(By Lisa Thal) The world has shifted with the coronavirus! Your child’s schools are closed for several weeks, Universities are moving to remote learning, and your kids are moving home, and many of us for the first time are working remotely. Our sales team can already work remotely. For other departments like the business office, HR department, sales support, and management, this is new to us. On Friday, everyone packed up their laptops and all the necessary items and headed home.
Here are seven tips to be more productive when working remotely.
- Find a workspace
Have a designated space to do your work. If you have a home office great. If not, you need to determine your workspace. Turn a spare room into a temporary office. Find the place you will focus on work. A designated workspace matters for a few reasons. It would help if you had a place for all your work materials. You may want to invest in wireless earbuds for the calls you will be making from your cell phone. If your kids are learning remotely, set a learning space for them. When you go to this designated space, you know that it’s time to work.
- Determine your mindset.
Working from home requires a different mindset. To be more productive while working away from the office, we need to create the right mindset. It’s training our brains to focus on work during our scheduled work time. When your day ends, it time to shift to family and your time.
- Structure your day.
Give your day structure and make a schedule for the day ahead. I recommend making an hour-by-hour schedule that includes your priorities and when you will work on them. You should schedule breaks throughout the day. Taking a 10-15 minute break gives your eyes a break from the computer screen and manages your energy throughout the day. If you have children at home, this is a great time to reconnect. You can show them what you do each day, your teaching focus, and responsibility. You can share time together during these breaks, including lunch. Most of us will be saving an hour a day from our commute to work. How can you use that extra hour for yourself?
- Stay connected with colleagues
In the first few days, you may enjoy your time working remotely. But most of us may miss connecting with our co-workers. When creating your daily schedule, make sure you schedule a time to call a colleague, check your social channels. You may want to connect during one of your scheduled breaks or while having lunch. Technology gives us this opportunity with facetime, zoom calls. We don’t want to feel isolated, and we want to stay connected to others. Also, say hey, Alexa play my favorite radio station. You will remain attached to a broader community.
- Have designated work clothes
We were laughing at work, saying it is going to be great to work in my pajamas or sweats. For those of us in sales and management, I am not suggesting that we suit up when we are working remotely. We need to be mindful and understand that the clothes you wear can determine your mindset. Yes, be comfortable, be aware. There is a mental benefit to getting ready for work and changing your clothes at the end of the day. It signals the brain to shift from work mode to family time.
- Reduce distractions
One of the benefits of being able to work remotely is escaping workplace distractions. Sure it’s okay to throw a load of laundry in during your workday. Just avoid cleaning the whole house. Just be mindful of any distractions, like turning on TV and scrolling through newsfeeds on Facebook. Why? It’s because multitasking doesn’t work. Switching between tasks can result in as much as a 40% loss of productivity, according to Dr. David Meyer in an American Psychological Association article. So stick to the schedule you created for the day so you can be more productive.
- Determine the end of your workday
When working remotely, you may find it challenging to know when it stops. We all desire to achieve a work-life balance. I will finish following up on one more email, that leads to the next one. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance when your workday will end—time to close your laptop or close your office door so tell your mind the workday has ended. Celebrate what you accomplished that day. Schedule your next days of priorities. You may find it helpful to note all that you have accomplished, including the most important priorities you set out for the day.Lisa Thal is the general sales manager for Hubbard Interactive Cincinnati. She’s also the author of Three Word Meetings: A Simple Strategy to Engage, Inspire and Empower Your Team. Get it on Amazon.com.