In my last blog Tackling lockdown isolation, I looked at how I was adapting to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the ways Elixel as a company have tried to keep the feeling of connectivity going, even though we are all in our respective homes.
In this blog I want to look a little more at how we are all staying focused. The rest of the team have had experience with working remotely for one reason or another but I’ve never had the need to, and I’m finding it a tough thing to do! When I’m in the office it’s much easier to immerse myself in a task, I don’t know if it’s because subconsciously I know I’m surrounded by my bosses, but at home with all the madness of young children, a husband and all the household chores that need doing, I’m finding it hard to focus on the job at hand.
Finding individual focus
In a ‘normal’ remote working circumstance it's likely you wouldn't have to battle all of those distractions. For example, children would normally be at nursery/school/after school club during working hours but seeing as they are currently home 24/7 I am finding they are my BIGGEST distraction. Don’t get me wrong, my two are great at entertaining themselves however they are only 1 and 3 so they still need me for survival! Without locking myself in a room and keeping them out of sight and earshot I can’t escape them. I’d love to say there is an app or game out there that will keep them happy during working hours but there isn’t, I’m sorry I can’t give you a magic fix for that….hang on is there an app idea there 🤔🤷?!
My husband is classed as a key worker so he's still leaving the house as normal which means I don’t have him around to help. He works shifts and this can mean on occasion he’s here to entertain them and I can be SUPER productive, but other days he's gone for 95% of my working hours.
My situation is going to be very similar for a huge number of you so I wanted to get some advice from people that have more experience with this set up so I had a chat with the team. These were the top tips…...
- Get dressed! It seems like a simple thing but a lot of people are tempted to stay in lounge wear because they are at home. Getting yourself up and dressed puts you in the right frame of mind to begin with.
- Plan your day and make a ‘to do’ list. Again seems like a simple piece of advice but when you’re at home it really is worth while planning your day/week and seeing what needs to be achieved and set yourself targets to keep on track.
- Keep your routine. Make sure you take a tea/coffee break like you would at work and keep to having your lunch break away from your work space. Also keep your work to your normal working hours. It is easier to look at the time as though you are working a flexi-day but if you try to keep your working hours to those that match your normal office environment it helps you stay in ‘work mode’.
- Keep your working space and ‘chillout’ space separate. This can be difficult for some but you really want to try and keep your work away from where you go to relax. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen normally but it isn’t where I go to relax at the end of the day so I chose to set up there. When the working hours are over and the kids are in bed I can go to my lounge and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere without seeing all my work equipment and visa versa, when I am working I can’t see my lovely comfy sofa and TV!
- Use the radio. It will make you feel less alone but won’t distract you like the TV will.
- Turn off your notifications on your phone. Phones consume most of us enough during our own time so when we’re stuck at home and our phones are one of the only connections to the outside world it is so easy to keep checking it or responding to a message as soon as it arrives but you probably wouldn’t do this if you we’re in the office, try to keep with that mindset and turn the notifications off to help with that.
All simple yet VERY effective.
One of our developers also uses the ‘Pomodoro Method’. I hadn’t heard of this before but she explained that the theory is you split your day into regular work/break intervals. She does 25 mins of work with a 3 min break. Turns out I'm using this method too, just totally unconsciously!!
Keeping to task as a team
The team is great at using Google Calendar and Teamweek for scheduling what they have to do. This doesn’t only help them but also helps the rest of the team know what they are working on and when. With each project we take on we also set milestones and this is a great way to keep on track, it’s pre written into our plan. This may not work as well for every type of work or business but with every job there is an element of ‘this section/task needs to be complete so I can move onto …….’. In this scenario you could give yourself a milestone for each section of your job or task.
Every few days our project teams also review and critique each other's progress to ensure no one has gone off-piste. The collaboration tool the team uses to do this is called Miro (miro.com) and here they can map out ideas, record feedback and keep an ever growing conceptual model up to date. Even at this time it is key to make sure you’re keeping your client in the loop so we continue to have communications with them to ensure we’re moving in the right direction. Keeping in touch is of utmost importance.
Some people may have taken to this situation like a duck to water but others of you could be like me and struggling to adjust to the balance. The only saving grace is that this isn’t going to last forever. If you are working from home it’s because there are others out in the world that still need what your company offers and your support during this tough time. We have to give ourselves a little slack too, but just remember when you are back in the office don’t ever complain about having to go in again!!
If you need any support or have a project you want to discuss then get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.