When I started Work from Home in March, I was totally clueless about what to do? Even though I loved the concept of remote work and I never realized it would be hard. Multiple Zoom meetings, emails, and Slack messages often left me distracted and I always scrambled to reach deadlines. I later realized that this is due to poor planning. So, I spent some time reading books and tried a variety of things before I zeroed on the following ‘work from home’ tips. I used these tips almost every day for the past six weeks and they are really helpful.
So, I decided to write about it. The tips I discuss here are simple, easy-to-follow, and helps you stay focused. And, the best part is, you can implement these tips from today. Like, right now!
So, here we go.
Spend your first 30 minutes for the small stuff
The smaller tasks are the ones that actually take a lot of time during work. If you combine them together and handle them when you begin work, you’ll have more time on your hands.
A good practice is to block 30-45 minutes on your calendar and use this time to reply to emails (other than urgent emails), update your calendar, schedule meetings, file expense reports, review content, etc. This will free up the rest of your day and will help you focus on the important things.
Note: You can block this time anytime during your day if you’re not comfortable doing it as your first thing in the morning.
Connect your Email and Slack to a To-do list
We receive tasks and reminders through various channels such as Emails, meetings, phone conversations, and Slack messages (or Microsoft Teams). And, sometimes it is hard for us to remember them all. Having a To-do list is amazing, but having to manually add all the tasks from your email and Slack channels can be time-consuming. I recently found an easy way to do this.
I used Zapier to connect my Email and Slack accounts to my To-do list. The zap works in such a way that whenever I star or add a specific label (like ‘to-do’) to an email, it will be added as an item in my To-do list. I also configured the flow in such a way that my To-do list has details such as the name of the sender, the content of the email in the description, etc. This way I got enough context about the task when I begin to work on it.
I did something similar for Slack as well. Whenever I save a Slack message that was directed to me, it will be created as an item in my To-do list. This way, I don’t have to manually enter the task details, yet will be able to see all my tasks in one place.
In order to know how to create Zaps and connect them to your account, click here.
Block 60-90 minutes for focus work
I recently read an amazing book titled “Make Time: How to focus on what matters every day” where authors Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky talk about how to find time for focus work.
The trick is simple. Block 60-90 minutes every day where you focus on one important task and nothing else. This might sound very simple. But, it is very easy to wander off as we constantly come across distractions when we work on something. It can be anything from a cute video of a cat, a controversial tweet, an interesting blog (like mine) to a colleague asking for help.
And, by the time we get back to the task at hand, we would’ve reached the end of the day. So, set some time every day and focus on one important thing you’d want to get done that day. You can also create 2-3 such focus zones throughout your workday depending on your schedule.
And, make sure you snooze notifications, put your phone on silent or in flight mode, and close all other tabs in the browser when you’re in the focus zone. Minimizing your distraction helps you maximize your outcome.
Schedule Lunch and coffee breaks
When you work from home, there is a very thin line between your personal and professional space, and the line is often faded.
To make a clear distinction, block time for personal activities such as lunch and coffee breaks. This helps you in two ways:
It helps you take your mind off work for some time
It gives visibility to others who are trying to block time with you.
Imagine you being hungry and wanting to have lunch and somebody scheduling a 60-minute meeting at that time. It is always good to set boundaries and loosen them on a case-by-case basis.
Note-taking is the ultimate secret to staying on top of your day-to-day tasks. Every day, we’re bombarded with too much information, and with multiple meetings. This makes it difficult for us to remember everything. We often forget stuff and go clueless in follow up meetings. Taking notes is immensely helpful in meetings and quickly offers you enough info that leads to effective context-switching.
Create folders like meetings notes, daily stand up, personal notes, feature launch timelines, follow-ups, articles to read, etc. and add notes under them. This makes it easy to navigate through your notes.
Turn off Slack notifications after work
This small hack can make you think less about work and help you peacefully spend your evenings with your family and loved ones.
I have uninstalled the Slack app from my phone as I am working from home and my laptop and mobile phone are next to each other. So, receiving the same notifications on two different devices doesn’t make sense to me. If I go back to working at my office, I would definitely install the app again. But, as long as you’re working from home, please silence your Slack notifications after work
Finish your day by sitting idle for sometime
After you’re done with your work, go to your living room or bedroom and spend five to ten minutes by sitting idle. No looking at your smartphone or reading a book or watching TV. Just make yourself comfortable and do nothing. If possible close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
This small exercise can make you feel a lot better. With so many distractions around us, we hardly give our brain some idle time. Giving this idle time will help your brain take a break from all the work you’ve done during the day and will make you feel refreshed.
I am not a pro when it comes to working from home. A lot of people out there have several years of remote work experience. But, whatever I am doing right now is helping me to a great extent and I wanted to share that with you. I believe at least one of these tips would be helpful. See you soon with another interesting article.
Until then, stay indoors and stay safe.
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