A lot of non-remote companies are now switching to remote work, so I thought I’d share a couple of tips that help me stay organized, focused and more efficient when I’m working from home.
This blog won’t focus on software, tools and apps that are usually used when working from home, but more on the mindset and the activities you can do to get in the zone. OK, let’s start with the tips!
TIP #1 Create a routine
When working from home, a lot of people believe they don’t need a routine, a plan and a timeline of what they should be working on, and that is a surefire way to get into a trap of thinking that when you’re working from home you aren’t actually working. And that’s not actually true – when you’re home you’re working, and the only thing you’re not is travelling to the office.
That’s why it’s important to:
- Try and wake up at the same time (that puts you into the right mindset and gets you ready for the day)
- Get dressed – no need to get fancy or anything, but taking off your pajamas and slipping into something more professional will help you get into that ‘work’ mode
- Do all your regular morning rituals – make coffee, take a look at the industry news or anything else that you usually do before work
Having a routine like this will enable you to connect some of those habits with work, and will prevent you from mixing your free time with your work time – and that ultimately leads to a better focus.
TIP #2 Define your daily goals
When you turn on your laptop and start working, it’s really important to have a detailed plan for the day (ideally – an entire week). It’s important because having a plan means you can create an estimate of what it will take you to finish each of the tasks (and it also help you practice giving those task estimates).
If you have a plan that fills up your entire work day, you’ll be able to constantly track your progress and react if you see that some of the things aren’t going according to the plan (and then you can inform project managers or other team members on time).
Defining your daily goals and the overall plan will help you to see the bigger picture of the project and your role in it, which will ultimately lead to a much clearer focus when it comes to delivery and achieving results.
TIP #3 Know when to log off
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that your work day is automatically longer. Be mindful of the fact that your overall productivity and efficiency might go down rapidly if you’re working late in the afternoons or the evenings, so it’s usually a better option to leave a task for the next morning when you’ll be well rested and sharp.
If you’re constantly working late to finish your tasks (e.g. because they need to be delivered that day), than it’s a big possibility that you’re making a mistake when you’re creating your daily plans in the morning – you might think that you’d be able to do a task faster that you really could or maybe you don’t set your work priorities the right way. Try to optimize your daily plans to see what works best for you and how much work can you actually do during a regular work day!
TIP #4 Communicate regularly
Streamlined communication with your team enables you to work more smoothly, and that is especially true when you’re working remote. Slack, Hangouts, Loom, Lightshot, Miro… those are just some of the tools that are ideal for sharing information with your team – so use them!
Here are some examples of when it’s important to share the information with your team:
- You defined your daily plan, so you send out the info in order for your colleagues (senior members of the team, project managers…) to know what you’ll be working on and what they can expect from you
- Your daily plan gets changed for some reason (maybe you got another task that has a higher priority or maybe a task takes longer than expected), so you inform others to enable them to react on time and adjust (e.g. switch up the plans, or communicate the delay to other teams)
- You have some questions – this is common sense, but when you’re working alone from home, you can sometimes really forget to ask others to help you out or explain something to you if you get stuck
TIP #5 Hang out with your team
Calls, chats and all other types of communication aren’t just for work. Remember, when you’re working remote, it’s really important to keep that team spirit high and communicate with each other about the things that aren’t just work-related (just like you do when you’re at the office).
Keeping your communication channels open, having lunch over a video call or going on a break together will really help you stay connected with the people you’re working with!
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