Learn to max­i­mize your impact work­ing remote­ly.

6 min read

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A large por­tion of the Unit­ed States has sud­den­ly found itself work­ing from home and adapt­ing to a new way of life. How can you remain pro­duc­tive while work­ing from your couch or kitchen table? These five strate­gies can help opti­mize your time away from the office.

1. Establish a routine.

A sta­ble rou­tine is always help­ful, which is why hav­ing a habit machine — or sys­tem to help you build pos­i­tive habits — is essen­tial for those who are new to work­ing remote­ly. Your habit machine will help you add more val­ue to your dai­ly rou­tine.

The first step is a lit­tle coun­ter­in­tu­itive to some: Low­er the bar. Tell your­self, “I’m going to do this a min­i­mum of one minute today, two min­utes a day tomor­row.” Set the bar low, but con­tin­u­al­ly raise it to build momen­tum.

One of the things the habit machine will allow you to do is to save time. Every day, I set a goal or an objec­tive to fig­ure out how I can save four min­utes. Four min­utes a day is a mag­i­cal num­ber for me because I know it rep­re­sents three full days of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty each year. I know any pos­i­tive habit I cre­ate or any sys­tem I imple­ment that saves me just four min­utes a day has a com­pound­ing effect on my results.

2. Be a student of your calendar.

By far, the biggest change in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty came for me when I start­ed study­ing my cal­en­dar. This isn’t tak­ing a look at your sched­ule, there are three things to focus on:

  1. Study the things you have planned for the day. Look to cre­ate effi­cien­cies with your habit machine, as I men­tioned above. For exam­ple, I have a 5/20 Rule, where I try to sched­ule five-minute phone calls and keep my in-per­son meet­ings to 20 min­utes, mak­ing it so the peo­ple I inter­act with are ready for our inter­ac­tion and focused. With a pre­dom­i­nance of vir­tu­al meet­ings today, mak­ing even a small change like using a 4/19 Rule could allow for more pro­duc­tion.
  2. Study the white space of your cal­en­dar. How can you sched­ule more of those four-minute calls or 19-minute meet­ings? How can you be more acces­si­ble to those who might need you? And don’t for­get to ensure you sched­ule down­time or fun activ­i­ties, too.
  3. Study your sleep. It not only is the restora­tive process, but it enhances your immune sys­tem, which is of the utmost impor­tance. You need to build a con­sis­tent sleep rou­tine that helps restore not only your phys­i­cal being but your men­tal health, as well.

3. Master prioritization.

As you’re study­ing your cal­en­dar, you must insti­tute the “Do It Now” rule. There’s an old say­ing: “Ask a busy per­son to do some­thing for you and you’ll be much more like­ly to get it done.” It goes beyond that, though.

You have to eval­u­ate your tasks by urgency and impor­tance in order to deter­mine pri­or­i­ty. You do this by ana­lyz­ing the actu­al­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion or event in light of your own per­son­al val­ues, not the urgency per­ceived by oth­ers.

If a task is urgent and impor­tant, do it now. If you put off doing some­thing that you can do now, it will take you at least dou­ble the time to com­plete it.







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If some­thing is impor­tant but not urgent: Plan it, sched­ule it in your cal­en­dar. Give your­self a dead­line!

Some­thing that’s urgent but not impor­tant: Del­e­gate it. Trust your team to take care of it.

Final­ly, if some­thing is not urgent and not impor­tant, fig­ure out a way to elim­i­nate it. It’s obvi­ous­ly not worth your time.

4. Eliminate distractions.

What you focus on, or what you pay atten­tion to and give inten­tion to, will cre­ate coin­ci­dences in your life, whether you want them or not.

I’ve got a sto­ry that’s extreme­ly applic­a­ble to this that stems from the last time I was in a race car.  I was giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dri­ve around at a real track, in a real race car, with a real pro­fes­sion­al dri­ver. They had cones set up for us to maneu­ver around and I kept hit­ting the cones. My dri­ving instruc­tor told me to stop look­ing at the cones, to which I replied, “Well, I don’t want to hit the cones.” He told me to look at the road in front of me, focus on where I want­ed to go instead of where I didn’t want to go. After that, I didn’t hit a cone.

If you’re focused on the dis­trac­tions you face, you’re going to put atten­tion and inten­tion on them, even­tu­al­ly receiv­ing the coin­ci­dence of the dis­trac­tion. Pay atten­tion to what you want for your­self and your busi­ness. Stay focused and real­ize that you will hit the cones if you keep star­ing at them.

5. Use the telephone.

Final­ly, the last piece of advice for work­ing at home effi­cient­ly is that you’ve got to be tough and learn to use the tele­phone. Your tele­phone is one of the best ways to prove to those who you work for or with that you are pro­duc­tive, acces­si­ble and gra­cious. Effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion is more essen­tial than ever, which makes the tele­phone one of the eas­i­est and best forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, with min­i­mal tech­no­log­i­cal know-how required.

You have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to send your fre­quen­cy, into­na­tion and con­no­ta­tion in con­text via voice on the tele­phone. Data can flow on the tele­phone using text or social media or email, but the tele­phone is meant for call­ing peo­ple and mak­ing emo­tion­al con­nec­tions, some­thing dif­fi­cult to do over text. If you want to make sure that you’re pro­duc­tive, acces­si­ble and gra­cious, show you can be of ser­vice or of val­ue by the way that you con­nect with oth­ers.

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