Easy & Stress-Free Ways to Achieve Maximum Productivity – Even While Working Remotely
The vast majority of companies have been working remotely since March, and many have come out with their own ‘tips and tricks’ for being productive while working from home. But not many faced a shake up quite as dramatic as we did.
We went through a merger right before shut downs happened across the country. Back in March, we were still growing our staff and ironing out processes between two newly-merged companies. Then Covid hit. We had a lot of adapting to do all at once.
That said, we think we’re uniquely positioned to offer advice about common challenges faced by many organizations, particularly those challenges related to the remote work that has become an everyday reality for millions of employees.
We interviewed our leadership team, and they had some valuable advice for keeping productivity high when you have to work remotely. Despite their varying positions and work styles, there were quite a few common themes among the interviewees. Whether you work in sales or marketing, manage a team or are part of a team, you will find this list valuable and, best of all, immediately actionable.
While it’s not a new topic, productivity and how to be productive while working from home is still a challenge on many workers’ minds. Here are our 7½ tips for achieving maximum productivity while working remotely.
1. Have a designated (and distraction-free) work-only area
Every single one of our interviewees mentioned this – a work space setup is the first step toward being productive when you have to work from home. Further, a work space setup that is distraction-free was advised.
Here are a couple key elements to a productive home workspace:
- Establish a specific, designated workspace where all you’re doing there is working. Get your workspace setup situated right away.
- Be conscientious of the distractions around you and figure out how to best reduce them.
- Sometimes a change of scenery helps when you’re feeling stuck – try moving to a different location in the house to work.
Do what works best for you. The goal is to limit distractions and set yourself up for success in your designated work space, whatever that looks like for you.
2. Create a ‘new normal’ for yourself with a routine you can stick to
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘new normal’ too many times to count, but rather than allowing this ‘new normal’ to happen to you, take a proactive approach. Actively structure your own ‘new normal’ by implementing a routine that you follow daily, just like you did when you commuted to the office. It’s one thing you can control amidst all the uncertainty right now.
- Make a conscious effort to put a routine in place. This is what really provides that mental buffer between work time and freetime.
- For some, putting in the motions that you would if you were going into the office that day really helps to get in the right mindset. For example, if you relied on your calendar to keep you on track each day before Covid, keep it up, don’t neglect to update your schedule.
- Try your best to end at a regular time so you don’t end up sitting in front of your computer late into the night. It’s easy to fall into working long hours when you aren’t physically leaving for the day, but that will quickly lead to burnout.
The key is to establish a work life balance, setting boundaries so that your approach to remote work is sustainable over time.
3. Prioritize your physical health and take frequent breaks for renewed energy
Again, this was a tip shared by all the leaders we interviewed: pay attention to your physical health. With grocery and meal delivery and no commute, it’s easy to sit at your desk (or on the couch) all day without taking a break or even leaving the house for a few days. Many of our leaders are big advocates for taking breaks throughout the day.
- Prioritize your physical health by making sure you’re getting some movement, like getting your steps in throughout the day. Try grabbing your morning coffee and going for a walk before you start your day, or taking a short walk during your lunch break.
- It may seem contradictory, but taking a break and doing other things that are ‘a distraction’ really help you come back motivated and ready to work.
- Don’t work through your lunch breaks – your brain needs a break. Try using your smart home to help remind you to take breaks; one of our Account Managers shared how she uses her Alexa to set lunch times and specific break times during the day.
One technique to consider: Our Customer Success team uses the Pomodoro method, meaning they work really hard for 25-30 minutes, take a 5-minute break. Work really hard for 25-30 minutes, take a 5-minute break. They do that 5 times then they take a longer break.
4. Fully utilize the value of the tools you already have
Increasing productivity doesn’t have to mean investing lots of money. We understand that it may not be realistic for some companies to invest in new technology just yet. Instead, make sure that you and your team are using the tools you already have to their fullest potential. Adapt the way you work with them to adjust to remote work by rethinking the way you work with your tools like some our customers have.
Here are a couple examples of how our team is adjusting their use of our own product to be more productive while working from home:
- Use Geopointe to track your last touch with customers by using the data visualization to map the ‘last activity’ field.
- Use Geopointe to stay on top of time zones when you need to talk to customers in different areas at different times of the day (particularly those that are outside the US).
Alternatively, one of our Account Managers found she hardly had to adjust her use of Geopointe at all: “I’m using Geopointe more diligently, putting more focus on using it consistently because I am at home. I would say I’m using it the same way I always have except for the calendar piece.”
5. Use task management tools to stay organized and/or ‘schedule’ your task list
That said, there is one tool that you might want to invest in if you haven’t already. A task manager or some other kind of project management tool makes managing your to-do list much easier so nothing gets forgotten. Otherwise, we have some DIY options.
- Utilize a project management tool. It will help you stay on task and help manage your team’s projects or tasks, as well as being a great way for teams to communicate.
- Schedule tasks and projects. Set time blocks on your calendar for projects that tend to fall off of the priority list when things get busy. This keeps both urgent and non-urgent items front and center when you look at your calendar.
- Stay organized and on top of tasks with prioritized checklists. If the list gets daunting, start with the easy things. If you can get 2 easy things done off your list, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that gives you the motivation to push through the day.
Here’s a real-life example from one of our interviewees: “For the day I always have a to-do list and it’s [arranged] from most important to least important. I end each day by reorganizing my to-do list for the next day to prioritize the tasks I need to complete that didn’t get done that day.”
6. Be agile, experiment and be willing to adjust as you learn
This buzzword takes on a slightly different meaning from our perspective: be adaptable and flexible. Don’t stay set in your ways or be afraid to test things out.
- If an established process isn’t adapting well to remote work, try something new, and don’t be afraid of these experiments ‘failing.’ You learn as you go, and adapting or adjusting is a valuable part of the process.
One of our interviewees on readjusting their approach to daily team meetings: “We realized it wasn’t necessarily a productive team call at that point, so we decided to reduce the amount of meetings.”
7. Communicate, collaborate and ask for help
The best trick for being productive is to create a culture with good communication and collaboration. No matter what tricks you try to be as productive as possible, they won’t be effective if your team isn’t communicating openly and on the same page. Plus, your colleagues could be a great source for productivity advice.
- Communicate effectively – if there’s something you and a team member needs to discuss, put a quick 5-10 minutes on their calendar with a description of what you are going to talk about. This prepares everyone for the conversation or tasks they need to work on.
- Use this time to make sure your team is on the same page with strategic communication. Communicating everything in one place to eliminate more meetings and emails allows all of you to focus on the tasks at hand.
- Try peer-to-peer support. One of our team leaders had this idea for encouraging collaboration: “I’ve encouraged my team to do training sessions with each other. They have a weekly team meeting where they come to the meeting with topics and the subject matter experts present. I don’t attend these, I let the team come together and figure out a solution to these issues on their own.”
The best place for inspiration can be your own team members. Ask what they’re doing to stay productive, what’s helped them. Schedule a short team meeting each week where you can share ideas, tips and tricks that are working for everyone to stay motivated and productive. We suggest having a topic of the week each time (such as productivity tips). Share best practices and use this as a small motivator to check in on everyone now that you don’t have that normal interaction everyday.
(7½) Wifi is King
One last thing – upgrade your wifi! Nearly every person we spoke with gave some version of this piece of advice, having suffered through inadequate bandwidth themselves in the beginning. If you’re in a situation with a spouse working from home, adult/teenage kids working or going to school remotely, and have back-to-back Zoom meetings (like a few of us) you’re gonna need a bigger router.
How do you stay productive while working remotely?
Clearly, there are plenty of different recommendations for being productive out there – these are just a few of the productivity tips that our leaders shared. We recommend testing some of them out yourself to see which ones you can adapt to fit your work life.
What’s most important is not to follow these to the letter, but to use them as a guide to help you discover what works for you. Although these productivity tips helped us, you may find yourself unable to implement them in your own work life (we know having a distraction-free workspace is just wishful thinking for many parents out there).
Did we miss any crucial tips to increase productivity? Have your own favorite tool that you would recommend for being productive? Disagree with our suggestions? Let us know on social!