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Recent world events have meant that many people are adjusting to the new reality of working from home for the next little while. It can be a great thing (no commute, yay!), but I know from working remotely myself for the last few years with Curtis & Coulter LLC that there is a certain discipline to it and depending on your life situation it can be a difficult adjustment process for many people.

I wanted to share with you some tips and tools that worked for me personally in the hope that maybe some will help you get the most out of what is a difficult and uncertain time for everyone, particularly if you are new to remote working and maybe finding it difficult to adjust and make the most out of the situation. Everyone’s life situation is different of course and ultimately you need to do what works for you. But I hope 1 or 2 of the following tips or tools help. 

      1. Have a designated workspace to work at and only use it only for work

Try to have a designated place at home to work uninterrupted if you can do so. Whether you have a spare room to work in or any area you have adequate space in your house for a desk/table, try to make it somewhere you don’t have to move all your work after you’ve finished for the day. It’s going to be your workstation for the next while so customize it to be an inviting place for you. Try to keep it as minimalist as possible though to avoid clutter. A plant or a window to look out of doesn’t hurt either!

      2. Protect your time as much as possible (if you can)

This is what most people will struggle with being at home and almost everything else shutting down, but in order to be productive you’ll need to minimize distractions and protect your time as much as possible. If you can, work in 1-2 hour blocks and defend that time as you would an important business meeting. If you use Slack to communicate with co-workers, put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ on. Even a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door or near where you work helps.

The next 3 items are tools I have found absolutely help me get the most out of working remotely. I’m not affiliated with any of them, I just think they are great productivity recommendations.                                        

      3. Get Inbox When Ready to stop you checking and responding to emails all the time

The problem with checking emails (and especially first thing) is that it puts you in a reactive state of mind and can stop you focussing on your own tasks at hand. If you let it, you can easily spend a good portion of the day just dealing with email. To combat this I got a Chrome extension called Inbox When Ready that essentially hides my email inbox until I’m ready to check email all at the click of a button. I’ve found this incredibly helpful in not getting dragged into responding to emails until I’m ready, and now I only check my inbox a few times a day and deal with what’s required in batches saving a whole bunch of time. If you want to know more about Inbox When Ready, you can check it out at www.inboxwhenready.org

      4. Get the Brain.fm app to help you focus during remote working

I’m listening to this as I write this blog. If you have not heard of Brain.fm it essentially is a mindfulness app that uses specific music and sounds that enables better concentration and to focus on the job at hand. Start a task, put the app on, give it 10-15 mins and you’ll find yourself getting into the zone of getting more tasks done. That’s certainly what I found and I use it all the time. It can also be used for meditatation, relieving stress and helping you get more sleep. Find out more about Brain.fm at www.brainfm.com and get 5 free sessions.                        

      5. Plan your day as much as possible with the Self Journal

Digital productivity apps with To-Do lists etc never worked for me. Actually writing stuff down in a journal of some sort to plan the day made it stick in my mind more. I tried a few different types but eventually I found something called Self Journal incredibly helpful to use to plan before the work day begins, helping me to prioritize my work for that day without being overwhelmed.

It’s essentially a 13 week productivity plan broken down into weekly and then daily productivity tasks you need to achieve your goals. Maybe there’s a revenue goal or subscription target you need to hit, this’ll help you break that down to make it achievable. It also asks you to practice gratitude each day by having you choose 3 things to be grateful for each day. It may sound abit cheesy but it’s a wonderful tool to put you in a positive mood before you start working. It takes abit of practise but it works once you get used to it. Check it out at www.bestself.co

I hope that by implementing a few of these and more importantly being consistent with that you’ll start to see postive results and be better able to manage the potentially difficult adjustment of working remotely.  Please do let me know if any of these work for you, I’d be interested in your thoughts and opinions. I’d also be interested in what tools other people use? Good luck and stay safe.

-Mark Coulter (mcoulter@curtiscoulter.com)

 

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