5 Ways to Stay Sane and Productive While Remote Working
Social distancing measures means more and more of us are working from home. Here are some top tips to do it right.
Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash
If you’re used to being in an office, switching to remote working full-time can be a serious shock to the system. Not everyone finds it easy to stay focused and productive around the distractions of home comforts. It’s perfectly normal to feel a loss of motivation when you’re always on your own. Not to mention the huge potential for communication and projects to fall apart when you don’t have easy ways to collaborate with colleagues.
Here are 5 ways to make it work.
- Find a designated workspace
Even though you aren’t leaving the house to go to work, you should definitely leave your bed. The simple act of picking a spot to work in and sticking to it helps you to stay focused. It’s also really bad for your mental health if you mix the spaces you use for relaxation with the spaces you use for work.
- Structure your day
On day one of working from home, it might feel like a treat to lie in and start late, but after weeks and weeks of erratic sleep patterns, working late into the night and never knowing when you can justify clocking off, you’ll start to feel burned out.
Track your time and set alarms if you need to. Plan tasks at the start of the day, tick them off as you go and set a healthy finish time. Debriefing from your work is also useful, as it’ll help form the task-list for the next day.
Oh – and factor in regular breaks from work throughout the day to relax, eat, exercise and recharge.
- Get dressed!
Even though no one can see you roaming the house in your underwear or pyjamas, feeling icky all day is bad news for focus and productivity. You don’t have to put on a suit, but at least shower and put on clothes you won’t be embarrassed to be caught in if you have to join a last-minute Zoom call.
After all, no one wants to be *this* guy…
Behind every successful woman is an unsuccessful man not wearing any pants:pic.twitter.com/GZsKPsXhub
— Joshua Self-QuaRayntine (@joshuaray) March 24, 2020
- Get the right tech set up
You don’t need to be able to see your colleagues in person to foster a great working relationship, but you do need to figure out a water-tight strategy for communicating and collaborating with one another.
To start with, get your team signed up to a project management platform or team management system. You need something that allows you to map out projects so that everyone can see which tasks they’re assigned to, how tasks fit together and impact on other colleagues, and can automatically keep their teammates updated on progress.
There are tons of systems out there to choose from, but an excellent homegrown option is Bloo, a team management system developed here in Phnom Penh that’s based around visual flowcharts for tracking progress and advancing tasks to the next team member in the chain. It costs $50 per month for teams of any size and they’re currently offering a free trial.
- Call your colleagues
One of the biggest challenges for remote teams is miscommunication. It sounds like such a small thing, but when you’re stressed and isolated, misreading the tone of an email from a colleague or misinterpreting a hasty message from your boss can lead to wasted hours fretting over a perceived insult, or trying to figure out what that person really meant.
You will save yourself a ton of aggro if you simply pick up the phone for a quick chat with a colleague to iron out issues before they turn into resentments. What’s more, it’s much less lonely to hear someone’s voice and have a normal human conversation than to stare at a badly worded message.
Need to speak to more than one person at time? There are plenty of free or cheap video conferencing technologies like Skype, Zoom and Houseparty for that very purpose.
Just don’t forget that you’re on a video call, like this unfortunate woman…
Working from home doesn’t need to be stressful. If you manage it right, you can end up with more free time and fewer costs than commuting to work each day. You just need the right attitude – and tools.