I remember the day before lockdown hastily dashing back to the office to dismantle a desk and pick up a computer monitor for our home office. It was all a bit of a rush, and I know I wasn't alone. The last month has felt a bit like fire fighting for many as we've worked out how best to work remotely with our teams and clients.
A month in and we're probably starting to find some kind of routine forming in our days, so as things settle into a new normal, it feels like a good time to reassess how we want to be working before unhelpful routines bed in.
I was delighted to be asked to co-host a webinar with FreeAgent's Kevin Lord to share my tips for staying connected and productive while working from home, and you can catch the replay on demand here.
So what are my top tips for staying connected and keeping productive?
Use tools you're already using. Have a look at what's in your toolkit and don't try to reinvent a whole new system, if you're anything like me, you just don't have time. Instead, think about what's working and what's not, what you need that tech for and how it's going to best suit your new way of working.
Ultimately, you're going to need ways to stay connected and collaborate with others. Check your tech is working for you and achieving what you need to.
Video is a huge time saver. I've had to learn to love it, but it's a great way to speak to teams, networks and clients and get your point across at a time which suits you, in a short time frame. You can share screens, give demos, or just send personal messages. If you hate video, my tips are to:
Write a couple of bullet points on a post it note to keep you on track, the words will come out of your mouth
Record in one take. Be yourself, people won't mind if you say "ummm" a few too many times, they're interested in the message you have to get across and will appreciate you taking the time to help them
Easier said than done when you have a lot of conflicting priorities, you have children running around and your office is also your bedroom but there are things we can do to help our productivity
Take time to schedule your week and day ahead. Look at the meetings, deadlines and projects coming up and book time for them. Don't forget to schedule time for self care, what gets scheduled gets done
If you're feeling overwhelmed, just choose three priorities for the day. Anything else is a bonus.
A change of scene can really boost your productivity. Whether you take a break to go for a walk or can tether and work in the garden for an hour, shaking up your location will help your creativity and increase your motivation
Minimise distractions by putting your out of office on. Manage expectations of your clients around how regularly you'll be picking up emails, they'll call you if something's really urgent after all. Turn off social media notifications, or take apps off of your home screen. If it's housework that keeps you away from your desk. Schedule time to do it so that it doesn't distract you from your priorities.
My final tip is to use your most productive time of the day - for most people this is first thing in the morning - to focus on what's important for you. Email can seem like the most important thing to attend to, but by dealing with email, we're often dealing with other people's priorities rather than our own. Schedule time specifically for email, it will get looked at, but use your best work time for your own priorities.