How to Stay Productive When You Work Remotely
In these days of uncertainty, social distancing, and government-enforced restrictions, a lot of people are facing the fact that they’ll soon (or are already) self-isolating, or working from home.
Working remotely or freelancing has its positives— working in your pyjamas being one of them— but when it comes to self-motivating and staying productive, it can be an uphill battle.
Without the traditional office space or team nearby to keep you accountable, it’s up to you to maintain your deadlines and keep proactive. Here are some tips to increase productivity when your team is remote.
Set Weekly Expectations with Your Team
Productive group communication keeps that team accountability in check. My team uses Slack and automated channels to keep everyone in the loop with any updates in real time. But we also make sure to have a weekly Skype stand-up to give everyone a brief overview of what we’re all working on, and we’ll do a quick check in at the end of the week to review if we’ve completed certain goals.
This gives me room to go with the flow that is my inbox and any other fires that might pop up during the week, but also keeps me focused on any large team projects.
Embrace Your Flexible Schedule
A flexible schedule helped me realize when I’m most productive and how to manage my time. For me, that’s early mornings and afternoons but for others, that can be evenings and late nights. To be more professional, I’ll schedule my emails to go out during the traditional work day and I’ll manage expectations by replying consistently at certain times during my own work hours.
That being said, a flexible schedule also makes me more aware of when I need breaks and how to stay energized. When I worked in a traditional 9 to 5, I stayed laser-focused on tasks and burned out by the afternoon, sometimes running the clock on unimportant tasks. With a flexible schedule, I can identify when I’m starting to fade. I’ll take a proper break from the screen, maybe take an afternoon workout class, and come back ready to focus and be present.
Get Out of the House
If you’re working from home, I think leaving your space and finding a space to get into the zone inspires me and puts me into work mode. For me, the same thing day in and day out can make my creativity or output feel stale. Try meeting up with fellow freelancing friends, visit a coffee shop, or check out coworking spaces in your city with Croissant. Space where you dedicate “work time” is a great way to prep you for productivity.
When in Doubt, Set Sprints
If you’re seriously struggling, sometimes the best way is to dive in by committing a full hour to work. I’ll even set a timer, jot down a few goals for that hour and jump right in. It feels great to knock out a few things right off the bat, and I find it sets that productive energy for the day.
Of course, working from home isn’t easy for everyone – no matter the circumstances. Loneliness can set in, not to mention boredom. And if your childcare plans have fallen through and you have children to contend with, well, that’s another thing entirely.
But know that you’re not alone, colleagues and friends are just a phone call, slack message, or video conference away.