Truly finish things, and feel more accomplished
In our post yesterday we talked about some things you can do to make remote work a bit better for you or for your team/company. With that cleared up it’s time to talk about your own personal productivity.
The topic is an easy one and is not necessarily linked to remote working. A lot of companies, or teams within companies, forget that you and other people need to understand their role and responsibilities. You’ve heard the words often, but only few really have it cleared up.
- what are you specifically responsible for?
- Which output?
- What do you have to accomplish? Daily, weekly and even in the longer run, yearly?
- How do these tasks contribute or add value for the customers of the company, or maybe your direct colleagues?
Once you have those questions crystal-clear – you can start thinking about how to change some usual habits in your remote environment (or even in the office…).
The most important part of efficiency or productivity is time management. Everyone can be a so-called ‘do-er’ but only few people actually do. Even though almost everyone agrees that they feel a lot more accomplished after actually delivering something (hint: it’s the starting it that is most daunting!). Small side-note: most people need clear responsibilities, clear tasks, to-dos. Burn-outs (or bore-outs) happen because people do not have something they can call their own, every-day accomplishments. Nobody (well, almost nobody) actually likes doing nothing and feels happy about it.
So how can you become truly productive or how can you help your team become truly productive?
Step 1: let’s tackle meetings directly off the bat – cancel every meeting that you do not have a direct personal contribution to. Do not worry about missing out on things! If you are a mid-level manager and you feel insecure (be honest, you know who you are) just stop going to or organizing unnecessary meetings. Start accomplishing things, even if they are not directly perfect. Also, ask people why you are being invited to meetings, ask them what they expect of you, what you need to prepare and what the outcome of the meeting should be! If they cannot answer those questions – do not go (or dial in!).
Everyone will nod at this point and continue with their meeting chaos – I know – but if I can only get a few people to stop the nonsense I’m already happy. I urge you to seriously start doing it, it may feel a bit scary at first – because, ‘what will people think, how will they react, what will my manager say when I confront him…’ – but you’ll see that quickly people will start following your lead!
Step 2, block time – do it! Block two hours every day in your calendar and do not accept ANY meetings during that time unless it is really unavoidable. Discuss the time you are blocking with your colleagues so that everyone has approximately the same blocker. Use this time to get work done! Not to get your laundry done.
Step 2a? Block a full day – seriously. I’m not kidding here. In our team, except for our 11.00 morning week-closer call in which we discuss the week, the agendas are blocked to get work done. No meetings, no other distractions. Call it a maker-day, a do-er day or whatever you like but encourage everyone and yourself to really get things done!
Easy right? Sure, but it requires routine and it requires discipline. So make sure you follow some of the following tips if you notice that you are not being as productive as you’d like.
- Set boundaries, and communicate them: do not blur lines between work and personal time. Mute notifications (personal ones during working hours and work-notifications during personal time). This is also why dedicated spaces are so important – be able to close the door to your personal life or to your work life.
- Optimize everything around you: whether you need an empty desk or lots of screens. Make sure to have natural light, use plants for good air (NASA has a cool guide to plants – the dummy version) and take mini breaks. Just make sure to leave your Playstation, Xbox, Switch or whatever else can be of distraction far away from your work-space.
- Structure your time: be your own manager – what would you tell yourself if you were your own manager? Plan your day, block time and reflect on priorities. Start the day with writing down what you would like to accomplish. Do not plan too much or it can feel overwhelming and reflect at the end of the day on why you have not been able to accomplish certain tasks. Then, ask yourself why you haven’t accomplished them and eliminate the reasons or optimize your planning!
- Get a few good tools: I personally use Microsoft to-do but you can use wunderlist, trello, or just write things down on a notepad. Set a limited number of to-dos for the day and cross them out. It’ll feel great!
Now, just a few closing words – you are in charge of yourself, your environment and what you focus on. So if something is not working out……reflect on it and change it. The end goal is to feel happy and fulfilled about the work you do – whether that is remote or in an office setting.