Since the summer of 2017, I’ve worked for myself and have been 100% location-independent. All I need is a strong wifi signal and laptop. That way I can create content like this post, record podcasts, and support school leaders through 1:1 coaching and the mastermind.
So I’ve learned a few things. The coronavirus has shut down schools forcing many educators to learn how to work from home and facilitate online learning.
Here are 10 tips to be successful in a remote work setting:
Routines are important. Avoid news, the phone, and email first thing. What routine do you need to have a successful day? I like to use the Miracle Morning (I talk about it on this podcast. You can listen or read the transcript at the 12:30 mark).
Create an ideal week. What does an amazing day and week look like for you? To be effective working on your own you have to be intentional and proactive. If you don’t create and adhere to a schedule you find meaningful you can waste the day on social or watching Netflix. You are your own boss. Show some discipline!
Step away from the screen. My work is 100% online. If I’m not careful I spend the whole day in front of a screen. This is terrible for my eyes and my posture. I love (sometimes hate) that my Apple Watch reminds me to stand up. I need that reminder. Go read a book or better yet ?
Go for a walk (or workout). I like midday workouts. Now that I’m in self-isolation I don’t go to the gym. Walks have become 1000 times more important and whatever I can do around the house. Give yourself a break from work and do something that recharges your battery. It may “feel” like you don’t have time to do that, but you’ll get more done. Trust me.
Set your do not disturb time. Apps like Zoom, Slack, etc. actually allow you to set a “do not disturb” time. Keep your email closed and check it at specific times throughout the day. Do not open social media until it’s time for a break or you’re done at work. Communicate when you are available via chat, text, phone, Zoom, with your colleagues.
Limit distractions to get into focus mode. I use a helpful app called Brain.fm to listen to scientifically engineered music that helps me get into focus mode. I keep my phone on silent. I limit the number of browser windows open to what I’m working on. The less temptation around me, the more work I get done.
Connect with others. Working alone can be lonely. Find times to connect with others via the phone (people still talk!) or on a video chat (e.g. Zoom, FaceTime, etc.).
Throw a work party. Invite others to a working party. Set up a Zoom room. Invite people to come and work with you (it’s not mandatory). At the top of the party people check-in (wins of the week, what they plan to do). Agree on an amount of time to sprint (30-90 minutes). Turn your screen off and mute yourself, but keep the Zoom room open. Now sprint! Reconvene in the allotted time. Share what you worked on and provide feedback on each other’s work if you’d like.
Focus on the inputs. I can’t control if people read this post, share it on social, or anything else. I can control on creating something that I think will help. This can be difficult if you’re used to a physical location. You can walk down the hall to check-in on colleagues (usually for compliance – yuck!). Now you have to rely on your systems and trust your coworkers to add value to the organization.
Choose a goal system and trust the process. This post on OKRs will help. Figure out how you are going to set and attain your goals. From a high level here is what works:
- Setting your “reach” goals
- Reverse-engineer how to get there (the plan)
- Communicate your goals and plan to others
- Check-in daily with others
- Keep score and announce your progress (in public)
This last part is key. Working remotely can be a major challenge. Lucky for you, I’m a productivity ninja.
We’re finishing up a 3-month “Productivity Sprint” next week and will be starting one for Q2 2020 (April-June) soon. If you would benefit from joining a group of leaders focused on increasing their productivity and (for some) figuring out how to work remotely, then I invite you to our productivity sprint.