How to Work From Home Effectively: Adjusting your workflow during COVID-19

by | Apr 2, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

With the rise of social distancing to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of employees are forced to pivot and work remotely from home. Technology has already pushed many companies to provide some level of flexibility to work remotely, but now it is a necessity. Companies that are effectively adapting to the shift are able to upkeep productivity and may continue the practice after the pandemic has settled (a day we are all anxious for).

However, it’s a major shift for the masses. The spike in Facebook usage indicates that more than a few people are struggling to stay focused between the distraction of family, social media, and the confrontation of dozens of little home projects that have been put on the back-burner.

I’ve been working at home for years, and in many cases, find that I can be more productive because I don’t have the added commute time. I struggle with the same distractions as everyone else, but these are some techniques that I’ve found are super helpful for working efficiently from home.

List Your Priorities

If I let the day just happen, I’m likely to go down a rabbit hole on one project and suddenly feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. Other days I feel completely swamped and still feel unproductive by the end of the day. To manage this, each morning, write your Top 3 tasks to achieve that day. This will keep you focused when your emails and slack channels buzz with small projects that can pull you away from what’s important.

Make a Schedule

Treat this like a working day. If you normally work 9-5, maintain that schedule. Take your Top 3 from your priorities list and schedule those first. I personally don’t work 9-5, but I have my own schedule so that I can maintain a balance between work for clients, business development, and my own personal goals, such as improving French.

It’s important to anticipate distractions and schedule time for those, too. So rather than your Instagram feed getting the better of your dedicated project time, you can remind yourself that you have already made time for that later. Anticipate having to make time for life’s little requests (calling the credit card company, refund requests for cancelled flights, etc), and plan time for that (I take for a half day one day a week to take care of this). Otherwise, during your work day remove distractions. I really can’t emphasize how much this can kill productivity- not just from a time perspective, but by interrupting your thoughts during a project.

Finally, Consider when you’re most productive and work around that. I’m personally a morning person. This is what my day typically looks like:

Weekly planner to keep my on track with my goalsWeekly planner to keep my on track with my goals
Day to Day schedule

Weekly planner to keep my on track with my goalsWeekly planner to keep my on track with my goals Day to Day schedule

Make time for self-care

You’re not commuting in the morning now. Rather than starting your day with emails, use that extra time to center yourself and take care of your body. Meditate, journal, pray, exercise…I call this time of my day my ritual. Your ritual might be looking out the window with a cup of coffee. Just make time to clear your mind so that you can feel more relaxed and focused during the day.

Implement the ROWE method

It’s 2020, y’all. I’ve never worked 9-5 and I have trouble understanding why people are still stressing about how many hours their employees are working at home. Shouldn’t we reward those who stay focus and get the job done? “Results-only work environment,” a method adopted by Precision Nutrition president Tim Jones, focuses on goals and metrics, rather than hours worked. Be sure to continue to set (realistic) deadlines for your team. If someone is taking 20 hours to finish a project that should take 6, then it’s time to check in.

Set breaks & Move

Your body and mind need to rest, especially if you are sitting and staring at a screen for 8 hours. Set regular reminders to stand up, stretch, and even to fix your posture. Get up and walk around during calls if you can. You may want to take mini workout breaks now in addition to your regular workout time – after a call, do 15 pushups. Or maybe at the end of a project you reward yourself with 10 rounds of Sun A. You may be moving less overall for now, but working from home also means you can do a mini burpee break without your coworkers eyeballing.

Take Video Calls

Despite all the advancements of technology, in-person meetings offer us a social connection and level of empathy that we will never be able to replicate with a phone call. When that can’t happen, video calls are the next best thing. This is the time to turn your video function “ON” during Zoom calls. You can see the micro-expressions from your team or clients that you wouldn’t normally get. It also humanizes the experience of communicating, bringing us closer together. This means you do need to comb your hair and change out of your PJs. But as my dad says, who has been leading sales teams for 30 years, “You can be business on top and party on the bottom.” Blazer for the video call, but sweatpants and slippers below.

Take Small Pleasures

If you can still work effectively, it’s totally OK to have a half glass of wine with lunch. It’s also very OK to go on a 30-minute walk when you need to clear your head and get fresh air. When you AREN’T working, give your kids and partner your full attention. Life doesn’t stop when you’re working from home. Be sure to sit up, get off your phone and take notice!

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