Have you made the abrupt switch from office life to working from home? While some people enjoy working from home, many people struggle to remain productive and find themselves easily distracted. Below are tips and tricks that can help you remain focused throughout the day.
Set regular hours - if possible, set regular hours so that your family, friends and colleagues know when you’re working and when you’re not.
Have a designated work area - we have laptops, but it doesn’t mean you have to work from your lap. Set yourself up within an area that allows you to not be looking down all the time. Get your gear set up in a way that allows you to work effectively. Also, if you have a room with a door – even better! If you are sharing office space with your partner/spouse/roommate during these periods of isolation, coordinate your schedules to accommodate conference calls, online meetings, and video calls, where possible.
Establish a routine - start and end your day with an activity or routine that signals to your brain that work has started and/or stopped. Have a shower and get out of your Pjs. Go for a 30-minute walk (with appropriate social distancing), do a workout or some yoga – whatever works for you.
You’re going to miss stuff - understand that you are going to miss phone calls and miss emails (especially with staggered network access). Don’t worry – you miss calls at work, you attend meetings with calls going to voice mail, you respond to emails and prioritize work during your day, just continue to behave that way. If things are urgent, pick up the phone and call!
Daily check-in - don’t underestimate the power of a daily meeting/a daily check in - a quick team call can lift people’s spirits & also, allow others to check in. Set up a team call at lunch, video chat while you eat your lunch. If daily is too much, at least every second day. There are many platforms available for video/audio calls – RingCentral, Zoom, Teams, etc.
Group message vs email - If you have an instant messaging app, set up a group for your team and use it. It is a great way to quickly reach out to a colleague to check in or ask questions.
Take a break… get up, move around - it allows you to re-focus & also, gives your body a break. You cannot sit at your desk for eight hours straight – and you wouldn’t do that at work.
Don’t eat lunch at your desk - go for another walk, read a book that has nothing to do with work, do something creative. Switch your brain into another mode and then when you get back to work, you’ll feel refreshed and be able to refocus.
Interruptions - try not to let your spouse, kids, dogs, etc. distract you – this is hard during these challenging times. If you have a lot of interruptions, try to refocus as quickly as you can or shift that work to a later time, when kids and pets are settled in front of a movie, in bed, etc.
The Mute button is your friend - go on mute on calls. Background noise and the kids screaming will only cause you more stress… Let the people on the phone know you’ll be on mute and why. Everyone will understand. If you have kids – play red light/green light! Use red and green construction paper and tape a sign on the door (if you have a door) or wave it around - red light – keep quiet and do not disturb, green light – carry on. Yellow – keep things to a dull roar!
Remember this is not what working as a remote team really looks like - these are exceptional times. Emergency remote working isn’t the norm (although it may be the new norm for a while). Create a sense of stability, build something predictable so the rest of the people can also gain some sense of stability… and wash your hands! OFTEN