Remote work has been a growing trend for years, and plenty of today’s workers are used to completing their to-do list from a laptop or home office. But for others, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an abrupt shift to their daily routine. If your new normal isn’t feeling normal at all, these tips might help ease the transition:
1. Recreate your productivity triggers
When you work in an office, you have habits around doing productive work, such as getting dressed, commuting, and sitting down at your desk with a hot drink. When you work remotely, those important cues may be missing. To make your next out-of-office work session more effective and more focused, identify work habits you can do anywhere, like listening to a specific kind of music, setting a timer, and meditating.
2. Make it clear you aren’t available to talk
Another reason working remotely can be less productive than working in an office is that you’ll experience more interruptions. Especially right now, with relatives and friends on different-than-usual schedules, people may interrupt you more frequently because they don’t know you’re working. Remove this opportunity for distraction by setting clear expectations around your work whenever possible. For example, let your spouse or kids know you need 20 minutes of uninterrupted work time, put your phone on silent, and be sure to log out of social media accounts.
3. Choose one goal for each session
One of the biggest challenges of working outside your regular working environment is the tendency to get distracted by everything that needs to get done. If you’re not used to doing your job outside the office, it may be difficult to focus on the work at hand. When you try to accomplish too much, you often get nothing done. Fight the distractions by choosing one clear goal for each work session and taking a break when that task is complete.
4. Use technology to help you focus
Another form of distraction that can be a challenge for infrequent remote workers is the distraction of websites, games and apps on your laptop and phone. If you find you simply don’t get as much done when working remotely as you do in the office, consider using distraction-disrupting technology to help you focus. Apps like RescueTime, and Freedom can track how you spend your computer time and lock down distracting websites on your computer for preset periods of time, helping you work in peace.
5. Make your mental health a priority
There’s no way around it: the current pandemic is frightening, and it’s simply harder to focus when the future feels uncertain. If you find yourself experiencing anxiety or panic that interferes with your ability to work, try the following recommendations (in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. Consistently hearing about the pandemic can be unnecessarily upsetting.
- Pay attention to your physical health. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Apps like Headspace are currently offering free mediation content to help people through the current crisis.
- Let yourself unwind. Once you’re off the clock, revisit some of your favorite indoor activities like reading, crafting, cooking, or simply playing with your kids or pets.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and feelings. Use video chat programs to schedule group happy hours, chat with relatives, and share stories. Social connection is more important than ever.
This is an unprecedented time, but following a routine can bring a sense of normalcy and purpose back into your day. If you or your firm need help transitioning to a remote environment, we're here to answer your questions. If you're a current customer, please read our COVID-19 update. And remember: we’re all in this together.