As the Coronavirus or COVID-19 situation develops, a lot of people are finding themselves working from home for the first time. Even if you’ve worked remotely here and there, doing it every day can be different.
Here, at AIM, we’ve always been a 100% remote environment. Our team is scattered across the globe and many of us like to work while we travel. Therefore, we know a thing or two about staying focused and getting it done in a non-traditional environment, and we’re here to help!
After discussing the subject with the team, I’ve gathered and organized the most repeated and helpful tips for anyone looking to be as productive as possible during this trying time.
Create a Faux-Office Environment
- Dedicate a space in your home that has minimal distractions- don’t sit on the couch! Sitting on the couch looking down at the laptop will only result in potential mistakes, lower productivity, and neck pain.
- Stock up on office supplies (e.g. post-its, pens, etc.) and keep them handy. This will give you the same preparedness and “security” as in the office.
- If you worked on two screens in the office, try to continue that at home if possible, as not to disrupt your routine even more.
- Identify what keeps you productive at work and mimic it at home. Is it hearing people talking in the background? Put on the news. Is it the music? Put on some music.
Starting Your Day
- Keep the same morning routine as usual (i.e. drink a cup of coffee, check the news, or work-out).
- Get ready for work in the morning vs. rolling out of bed. Take that shower, get dressed, wash your face… keep doing it to get you in the zone. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with wearing gym pants or leggings to work, just skip the PJs.
- Tidy up your workspace before you start the day. For example, if you have to work at the kitchen table, clean up your dishes, wipe down the counters, take the garbage out, etc. A clean workspace before you start means there are fewer distractions throughout the day, and you won’t spend your breaks loading the dishwasher.
- Music- finding the right kind of music to keep the work-pace up and efficient is key. Beware of songs with too many words- that ends up slowing people down or causing them not to think clearly about the task at hand. Spotify has some awesome workday playlists in all different genres, from classical to lounge, drum & bass, to nature sounds. (Our own Jules offered to share one she created called Lounge Beats. You can find it on Spotify under her username, juliannebabcock).
- If you have to co-work with a partner or roommate, don’t be afraid to tell them that you need to work if they are trying to chat with you. We promise that they’ll understand, and it will help you concentrate.
- Use OneNote and set up a schedule. Use your Calendar to plan out your days around meetings and personal stuff. But ideally, stick to the same schedule every day. (Ex: 8:30 am to 5 pm)
When the Kids are Home Too
- Create a rough schedule for their day, and let them know the plan (breakfast, reading, play, lunch, play, schoolwork, dinner, electronics, sleep, and snacks in between). If you have a schedule and they know what to expect, they are less likely to bug you when you need to focus.
- Schedule “hands-on” time with them in your work schedule/calendar. Pick a time that works for you and let them know when, otherwise, they will show up wanting one-on-one time at the most inconvenient times.
- Always let your coworkers and/or clients know that you have a full house, so there aren’t any surprises. People understand the situation, but it’s polite to give a heads up.
- Ensure you know where the mute button is – in case your kid doesn’t listen and you need to use your “parent voice” while on a call. You can mute quickly, say your peace, and then unmute and continue the conversation (it takes practice, but you get it eventually). If it’s a video call, just make sure you keep smiling at the camera.
- Aim to start work a little earlier and possibly work a little later, then do the things that need lots of concentration during those quiet hours at the beginning or tail end of the day.
- When all else fails, don’t try to be a hero. Put on a show/movie, hand them a tablet, or give them a treat. No judgment.
- Whether it’s doing chores in the morning and then working or starting your workday earlier to finish earlier, find the routine that works for you.
- Taking breaks throughout the day is key – get up, move around, do some stretching, take the dog for a walk, or play with your kids. You’ll be more productive in the end.
- Block some time in your work schedule for workplace socializing (let’s say 15-30 mins max) on SLACK or whatever tool you use at work. It helps curb the loneliness of working remotely.
In the end, do what feels right and helps you get the job done. We’re all in this together, so stay safe and healthy!