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5 tips for staying productive (and sane!) while adjusting to remote work

This post was originally published by Lisa Hufford on LinkedIn.

A few months ago, I shared five tips for successfully managing remote employees. I also shared some stats on the rise of remote work:

It’s grown 91% in the last 10 years, and 159% over the last 12 years. 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028.

Today, remote work has become an overnight reality for businesses and teams of all sizes as we navigate this global pandemic. Many who have been weighing remote work programs are suddenly rolling them out by necessity, essentially building the plane while in-flight.

Managers, it’s worth revisiting my tips for the shift to managing your teams while working remotely. And for those who are adapting to working from home for the first time—managers and individual contributors alike—this post is for you.

Here are five tips for maintaining your productivity (and sanity!) while working remotely.

And above all else, please remember this: Remote work is still just work. It’s about business goals and people. And it’s grounded in setting clear expectations and using technology to facilitate collaboration, communication, and connection.

1. Get focused on your goals. What do you need to accomplish today? This week? Who do you need to engage with? Block your calendar to carve out uninterrupted time to focus. And then unleash yourself! I love this advice from Seth Godin:

“When you work from home, you can sit back and wait for assignments and hope you won’t get picked … Or can you decide to change your posture. With all the time you save by not going to meetings and not commuting, you can run with the opportunity. Turn the freedom into responsibility instead of fearing or hoping for authority.”

2. Create your to-do list for the day. Working remotely requires more self-discipline, and I’ve found that a prioritized to-do list helps me stay on track of deadlines and deliverables.

Our marketing team lead, Stephanie Chacharon, jots down all of her open tasks before shutting down her computer at the end of a work-from-home day. In the morning, she is able to approach her list with a fresh focus and prioritize her day’s action plan.

3. Focus on what you can control. Be aware of how regularly checking the news and social media may be contributing to your inability to focus. Recognize that there are things within our control—from the work we do to what we choose to read, say, or share. Be intentional.

4. Keep your meetings, and use video! As humans, we crave connection! And remote work doesn’t have to be isolating: Use technology, including your webcam, to create regular touchpoints for human connection. Turning on your camera for video calls and meetings is a great way to replicate in-person interactions and ensure that everyone is still engaged.

My team uses Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and we encourage everyone to turn on their cameras to facilitate connection and participation.

And it doesn’t have to be all business, either. Since we’ve all started working remotely due to the COVID-19 conditions, I’ve scheduled a 30-minute weekly virtual touchpoint for us to share inspiration and support, built on a weekly theme. (Stay tuned, team!) This week we’ve having a virtual sound bowl gathering (thanks for organizing, Carrie Morris!) where each of our teammates are bringing suggestions for how we can stay connected, integrated, and productive while distributed.

5. Practice regular self-care. It’s easy to get lost in your work and move far less than you would in a typical office environment. Remember to stand up at least once an hour, get some fresh air, stay hydrated, stretch, and take care of yourself. Mollie West Duffy, co-author of No Hard Feelings, uses the Time Out app to remind her to take periodic breaks. I like taking my dog, Winston, out for short walks around the block to recharge and reset.

Be kind to yourself and your team. Reach out if you’re feeling isolated, and take advantage of technology to stay connected and collaborate effectively. We’re all in this together.

Check out our remote work real-talk

Want more support? Check out our on-demand remote work webinar with our founder and CEO, Lisa Hufford, and remote work experts Monica McNeil, Mary Cronkhite-Johns, Maura Donaghey, and Hai Duong, for a real talk on how to thrive in the new world of work.

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