When I dreamt of what it would be like to work remotely, I never really imagined it would be like this. I didn't think we would be in the situation, which has forced many of us to retreat to our homes, only venturing out for necessities and fresh air at the end of the day. No, I never pictured it quite like this. I thought it would be fun, focused, but, more importantly, part-time.
Many people are facing new challenges right now, one of them being work. How do we find focus amid the chaos that is Covid-19? How can we possibly concentrate on that document, that email, that meeting when our kids are running around, our partner is in the same room, the cat is lying across the keyboard, all the while trying desperately to keep our loved ones safe and healthy?
It isn't easy, that's for sure, but focus can be found in the crazy by developing a routine and sticking with it every day. Here are a few of our team's tips that we wanted to pass along to everyone out there who may be struggling to find their productivity.
1. Get dressed.
Yes, it is VERY tempting to sit around in your sweats or yoga pants all day, and I will admit, I've done it once or twice. Yet, on the days I didn't get up and get ready as if I were reporting to the office, I felt less connected to my work. The brain needs to know it's work time, and one way to show that is to maintain your routine of getting up and "getting ready" for work.
2. Schedule Your Day
I've never been much for block scheduling, and I never thought about teaching my team how to do that because we were all in the same area and shared our goals and projects. Now though, in a time of disconnect, it can be helpful to take it back to the basics of scheduling your day. Planning your day gives you flow, and a pattern to follow...and let's admit, it feels REALLY good to cross things off a list!
3. Utilize Headphones
It is really hard for me to listen to music with lyrics while working. I love music and listening to it makes me want to sing and dance along, so it can be pretty distracting. There are other ways though to utilize headphones to help drown out some of the noise around you. Noise-canceling headphones can be found for a reasonable price online, and work well to quite your surroundings. Ambient noise or white noise can be used as well to strengthen your focus. Last but not least, "study music" or classical playlists found on YouTube provide a more entertaining way to tune out but also tune in. However, if you are more productive while listening to your favorite band or podcast...go for it! Do whatever it takes to center your mind and get the work done.
4. Call People
I had a moment yesterday when I realized I had failed as a manager. I asked a team member to complete a project for me through email. I thought I explained well enough in the original message and the messages that followed, but something wasn't getting through. After hours of wasted time, I learned that by calling him, sharing my screen, and walking through the steps, I was able to communicate what I needed in about 10 minutes effectively. Sometimes it is difficult to pick up the phone and talk with people, but while we aren't all in the same room with one another, it can help communicate the details of a project efficiently. Plus, calling members of your team or other co-workers allows that connection with other humans you may not realize you are missing.
5. Take a Lunch Break
Get up, walk away, step outside, or simply to the kitchen. If your office is in the kitchen, go to the living room, or take a walk around the block. It is healthy and helpful for the brain to take a break and refresh. If you stare at your computer all day without moving or having a change in scenery, it is easier to feel lost, depressed, and less focused. If you take a break, even 30 minutes, you come back feeling more refreshed and probably more inspired to tackle all the projects on your daily to-do list!
6. Be done
We have to know when to call it quits. During my first few days of working from home, I found that I kept working, kept answering emails, and kept thinking about everything that was happening and everything that needed to get done. I was stressed, and I had a short fuse, and my family noticed. It is crucial to bring an end to your day. My routine is closing all of my programs, login gout of the remote server, and closing my laptop. I neatly organize my desk (a four-foot foldout table), close the curtains in the room, and walk away. I am fortunate enough to have a separate space to complete my work; I understand that not everyone has this luxury. If you are set-up in your kitchen, bedroom, or living room, I suggest you turn your computer off, so you aren't as tempted to check your email after hours.
These suggestions for working from home are pretty basic. I realize there are many people who have been making this work for years! If you have suggestions or comments, we would love to hear from you. Connect with us socially and drop us a line. Social distancing doesn't mean we aren't all in this together.