There are many things that have been affected by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19. One of the undeniable global effects is that more of us, now more than ever, have to work remotely. In fact, current trends seem to indicate that it is very likely that many of us will continue to work remotely after COVID. But working remotely isn't easy for everyone, so how can we avoid procrastination? What can we do to maintain, and even increase, productivity, and how can we avoid so many of the distractions that come our way when we're outside of the conventional office environment? To help you, we've put together four simple categories, bringing together some of our best "remote work tips" to help you better adapt to this new global shift. Are you ready? We'll start with your environment...
1. Get a perfect environment: when and where
Working remotely doesn't necessarily mean working at a desk in your living room, staring at the four blank walls around you and listening to the sound of silence, Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. You may find that you prefer to work on the garden, on your balcony, on the sofa, with soft music in the background, standing, sitting or even in an outdoor space, such as the park.
You can be more creative when you go for a walk and jot down your ideas in a notebook, or leave them as notes on your cell phone. You may find that you are faster and more proactive at night or very early in the morning and that the middle of the day is better if you direct your attention to simple administrative tasks that do not require a lot of brainpower.
And don't forget that working remotely doesn't necessarily mean you have to work completely alone. Renting a co-working space, even if it's just for a couple of hours every day, could be the solution that gives you the office feel you need, without having to go to the office.
2. Dealing with distractions: time, tabs and science
If you find it difficult to use your time productively, and at the end of each workday you feel like you've accomplished very little, you probably need to address the element of distraction. Something, or maybe several things, could divert your attention from the more complex tasks on your list and cause you to work much more slowly than you would like.
Take the time to answer the following questions. Be honest with yourself as it will help you focus on those problem areas.
a. How many times in the last hour have you walked away from your task to answer a message on your phone or email?
b. How many tabs do you have open in your browser and how many of them are NOT related to the task at hand?
c. Do you have WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook or any other social media app open on your desktop?
d. How long do you sit in front of the computer to work without getting up to take a break?
You've probably guessed, by the nature of our questions, the kind of tweaks we're about to suggest. So here we go…
– As soon as you embark on a complex or important task, one that requires your full commitment, switch your phone and email notifications to silent mode.
– Close all browser tabs that have nothing to do with the task at hand.
– In particular, take a complete break from social media. Do not have any social networking applications open on your desktop (unless you work as a Community Manager, obviously)
.- Schedule regular breaks. Encourage your brain to focus for 60-90 minutes on the task at hand, and then take a nice break. It is scientifically proven that more breaks during the day translate into higher productivity. So get up, fix yourself something tasty to drink, and check your social media and phone messages if you want, but make sure that whatever you do, you enjoy your break and completely unplug.
3. Understanding Human Nature: It's All About Emotions
The wonderful thing about being human and the most important thing that differentiates us from a robot or machine is that we have emotions. We feel angry, sad, tired, happy, hungry, and the list goes on. While our emotions help us to be intuitive and responsive, which can be incredibly helpful when we sit down to work, they can also interfere with our productivity.
We start procrastinating when a task makes us uncomfortable in some way. We take it to the bottom of the list, putting things off as long as we can and worrying that we'll eventually have to deal with it. So when procrastination hits, the best thing you can do is get to the bottom of your feelings about that particular task. Ask yourself the following questions:
a. What worries you about homework?
b. What do you need to put those worries to rest?
c. Who could help you with those concerns?
d. What do you need to do to get that help from that person?
If you can resolve the concerns you have, you will find that you no longer feel the need to procrastinate. There will be nothing to fear about the task in front of you and you will be able to perform it as smoothly as you do all the other tasks on your list.
4. Teamwork remotely: you are not alone
As a final consideration, we believe it is important to highlight the fact that working remotely does not mean that you have to work alone, on the contrary. Technology has made it possible for us to be globally connected, 24/7.
We can hold “face-to-face” meetings with our clients and other members of our team through the use of a video conference. We may use other online platforms, including Asana, Slack, and Trello, to organize tasks, share projects, review ideas, and work together on presentations. Google has made it possible to share files, folders, emails, and links, and leave comments on those files whenever and wherever needed.
While some tasks can easily be accomplished on their own, others naturally require the creative input of the entire team. While some people are more inclined to increase productivity when working on their own, others tend to feed off the energy of others. It is important to know what kind of worker you are and how you work best. If you need to share initial ideas with someone else on your team, schedule a video conference ahead of time. Don't stay without your creative friend!
Are you already feeling better working remotely? We hope so!