Working remote sounds great, right? You can spend the day in your pyjamas, work from the comfort of your couch, have time to cook a nice breakfast/lunch and get a long list of things done completely ALONE.
In reality, you start your day turning on your laptop, when all of a sudden you remember that project you had to one day go through your pile of unmatched socks. Then, with 3 pairs reunited, you remember you’re supposed to be working. You send an email and then put on some music to get motivated. You end up singing and air guitaring until you realize it's lunch time.
At the same time, for some, having the chance to concentrate in complete silence, free from the daily distractions of an open office space, can result in a blissful productivity binge.
Whether you’re the former or the latter, having a plan of attack will make sure you get the most out of each day you spend outside the office.
Follow our 6 tips to ensure you stay organized, focused and get things done when working remotely!
1. Set your alarm as if you’re heading to the office
When working from home, you may be tempted to use that extra transport time to get some extra sleep in. Be careful with this. While getting a good night's sleep can do wonders for your concentration and productivity, too much can actually do the opposite.
If like me you love to sleep, as your body starts to adjust to not having to get up for that 7 am alarm, you may find yourself pushing back your wake up time to 8:30, then 8:45, then 9:15. Remember that your body needs time to wake up. Continuing to push back the time you get out of bed may actually result in you waking up at 9:30 and not getting started until 10.
2. Make a to do list
One of the best ways to ensure productivity is to have a set checklist of what you want to achieve during the day. The best time to do this is the night before so you can go to sleep with the relaxation of knowing you have a plan in place for the next day, and then wake up in the morning ready to go. This list can and should include the personal things you plan on doing (like laundry), to make sure these tasks don’t undermine your productivity hours.
Make sure to set milestones which are small enough for you to achieve in each time slot. If you try to be too ambitious you may end up falling behind and quickly abandoning your to do list.
Plus checking things off a list feels kind of great.
3. Schedule in break times
At the beginning of the day, after our first cup of coffee we may feel invincible. But remember, no one is a machine. Schedule in breaks based on the type of work you’ll be doing. If you need to spend time on a task that requires research and deep concentration you may need to schedule shorter work periods until your mind needs a short break. If you just need to follow up on some emails and admin, go for a longer stretch of work before taking your break.
In an interview with Fast Company, Robert Pozen, senior lecturer at MIT suggests working for 75-90 minutes and then taking a 15 minute break. Studying the work habits of musicians, his team found that, not only was this the perfect amount of time for productivity, taking that 15 minute break actually helps you to consolidate and retain the information you just consumed.
If you find you have more energy when you work in shorter cycles try the Pomodoro technique. This involves 25 minute cycles of work and rest. If you really want to get down to tracking your day more precisely, you can use this timing method to see how long it takes you to complete different types of tasks.
Here’s a great video to get you started:
4. Choose the right environment
Working from home may not be the best option for everyone. Some people love the quiet, for others it can be an invitation for their mind to wander. Funny enough, studies show that the right amount of ambient noise can actually boost your creativity. For this reason, many people often find the background noise in cafes to be optimal for their concentration. Treat yourself to a cappuccino at your favorite spot and watch the creativity flow.
5. Get some exercise in
Have you ever caught yourself pacing around the room when you’re thinking deeply about something or having a phone conversation? A study by Stanford University found that walking can actually improve creativity. If you’re stuck on a difficult question, take advantage of being out of the office by walking out your dilemma. You may be surprised by the creative solutions you come up with.
6. Don’t forget to connect back with your team
One of the most difficult challenges of remote working is the potential for isolation. Rather than working in your own bubble, you want to continue staying connected and in the loop with your team. Here at Impraise we created a Slack integration so we can easily share praise with teammates publicly. Simply by typing /praise @(recepient’s slack name) we can show our appreciation in a dedicated Slack channel. Virtual recognition, even for small things, is something that will help keep your team feeling strong and connected.