Distraction is a huge detriment in the workplace. In an office setting there are many distractions. People can walk past your door. The phone can ring. You probably have your email open on your computer. The same for some company chat software like Slack. And don’t even get me started on open office designs.
Working at home avoids some of the in person distractions. But it comes with many of the same distractions that involve your computer. And there are some new ones that make things interesting. It’s really easy to get up and get something from the kitchen. It’s easy to lay down on the couch for a minute. It’s easy to go for a walk or pet the cat or any number of things.
How can you be more productive while working remotely?
One way is to obsess over time.
Audit Your Schedule
Schedule a day to review your work schedule. First, look at what you’ve been doing for the last few weeks. See how much work you’re getting done. Take note of when you’re doing certain tasks and take note of the tasks that you aren’t getting done. Also look at distractions that are coming up. Both work and non-work distractions.
I’ve found that it’s helpful to audit your schedule every six months. It’s easy to stray from a set schedule and it’s definitely true while working remotely. There are less barriers to doing things that take away from work. And while some of that is fine, it can become a slippery slope.
Take Big Picture To Little Picture
Now review the big goals that you or your boss want to accomplish. Look at the top item for this month or this quarter or this year. Then work backwards to determine what you can do every day or every week to work toward that big goal. You’re taking the big picture of the year down to the little picture of the day or week.
You may need to talk to the folks you work with and get their input on priorities. Sometimes, for example, a boss can add things to your to-do list and it cuts into certain high priorities.
Obsess Over Time
Some say that the best way to live life is to make every minute count. Live in the present and do what will make you better. This can work for work life too. Treat every minute as if it’s running out fast. There is a time limit on how much work you’re going to be able to do in your life. And if you spend some or much of it not doing work then it can make you feel unfulfilled.
Look for ways to take advantage of a little downtime. When you’re waiting at the printer, make a quick sales call. When you’re getting coffee, listen to a voicemail. There are lots of ways to fill the little gaps in your work setting that allow you to get more done.
If you’ve been putting things off, do them now. Take the mindset that important things come first. Do them now. Don’t push them aside for something that is easier to do right now. Do the important things first thing in the morning and do them until they are done.
This might even include responding to emails. Get the biggest work done first. The rest can wait.
Avoid perfection. It can be a good thing, but there is a point of no return. It’s almost always okay to send that email without spellchecking it. Your powerpoint is probably good enough. You don’t need to go through it again and make it perfect.
Obsessing over time can get you into trouble. There is no doubt about it. But if you feel that your work has been lacking while working remotely, it could be beneficial to obsess over time more. Put a clock right on your desk. Set timers for doing tasks during the day. It will force you to work and it will make it more difficult to pay attention to those distractions.