Working remote is way different than working from home during a pandemic. Many of you know this. You’re either fighting for time against children who are remote learning and may need your help throughout the day, a spouse who may be working from home, meetings about meetings that you need to complete work for but have zero time to execute because, well, meetings and are expected to have your eyes glued to an inbox at every waking moment. If you’re lucky, you only have to deal with one or two of these things. But if you have to deal with all or even more than what’s on this list, you may find yourself like me, hacking the situation for optimal productivity.
Here are a few tips that I have amassed over the last eight months. Hopefully, you can find something that helps.
- Get Up Early: I can’t stress this enough. If you’re dealing with distractions throughout the day, there’s nothing that important than getting up early and doing everything you can; while the house is quiet and peaceful to get a head start on your day. I wake up between 4–6 most every day, and it helps. On the odd days, I don’t; I pay for it.
- Make Lists: Lists help accomplish two things for me. First, lists help me stay clear on what I need to complete in a day. Secondly, lists help me look back on the day and tangibly see what I managed to achieve. How many of you have ended a day only to feel like you got nothing accomplished when it’s rarely the case.
- Schedule Breaks: Wake up — Brush teeth and shower. Sit at your desk. Repeat. I bet many of you don’t even eat breakfast. If you’re anything like I was for the first half of this pandemic, you barely left the screen throughout the entire day. For several reasons, this isn’t healthy. Every hour, take 15 minutes to get up, stretch, and maybe walk around the house or outside to check the mail.
- Take Mental Health/Vacation Days: Let’s face it; things won’t be opening up the way we would like anytime soon. I know we all have an abundance of PTO time. I implore you to take it! It might seem like a waste since you can’t (or shouldn’t) escape to a sunny destination to relax in the sand, but I’d argue it’s more important now than ever. I can’t tell you how many friends, colleagues, and family members have or are experiencing burnout. A day here, a long weekend there, or a full-on week when you start to feel too stressed will do wonders for you as long as you genuinely leave the work behind both physically and mentally.
- Drink Plenty of Water: There are some days I’m better at this than others. On those days, I’m where I’m not so good, I can tell. Make it a habit of drinking plenty of water throughout the day because it doesn’t just boost performance during a physical workout, it promotes mental performance as well, and you’ll benefit from a myriad of other benefits. It will also help with number three on this list.
- Block Time Off Of Your Calendar: This is a big one that, admittedly, I haven’t been doing yet. I used to work with someone that always had 1 hour of every day blocked off on their calendar because they knew if it stayed open, it would undoubtedly become filled with another meeting. This was a simple way to help them organize the information they received throughout the day and allowed them to get a jump on the next day. It was brilliant, and as of today, I’m implementing it for myself.
- Put The Phone Down: Last, but certainly, not least is the thing that seems to be glued to most of our hands when we’re away from the “big screen.” Our phones provide a way for us to feel connected to our emails, colleagues, and any request that might come in after hours. I won’t lie and tell you I’m good at this either–putting the phone down. I am working on it, but I do use the “do not disturb” feature religiously, however. Our jobs are important; they are how we take care of the people we love most or build a life for those we will love in the future. But unless you’re an ER doctor or surgeon, you’re not paid, nor do you have to be on-call 24–7 or even 18–5. Unplug, experience life from behind the screen, and I promise you’ll be better for it.
I’d love to hear what some of you are doing to navigate this unprecedented time because I want to continue to find ways to be productive without losing what it means to be human. Please sound off in the comments.