Stay mindful and avoid multitasking on video calls.
As tempting as it is to work on other tasks while you’re on calls, multitasking is terrible for you and your productivity. Help yourself stay focused and present in your Zoom calls by going full screen and minimizing distractions like other windows. That slack message can likely wait! Better yet, mute your notifications so you won’t be tempted to look. There is nothing more disheartening to your team (internal and external) than attempting to engage with someone who is clearly looking at a different window and thinking about a different task.
This meeting not a valuable use of your time? Cancel it, cut it short, or uninvite yourself.
If you find yourself unable to be present during a video call, perhaps it isn’t the most valuable use of your time?
- We are all occasionally invited to a meeting we weren’t really needed in. Speak up - politely - if this happens and excuse yourself either right then or for future sessions. It is more polite to excuse yourself than to zone out or act distracted. Pro tip: Say “because” and give the reason you are opting out of meetings.
- Or maybe it’s a meeting that could have been an email? Professionally request an agenda to start the discussion about the merits/necessity of the meeting format.
- Sometimes we are just accustomed to certain meetings. Because, well, “we’ve always done it this way.” Be bold and switch it up. Try a new abbreviated format like “standup” or make it a huddle.
Make it a phone call.
Unless you need to share your screen, pick up the phone and call someone. Use Slack huddles. Take your 1:1 calls while going for a walk, making a snack, laying on your couch...the possibilities are endless when you’re not tied to your desk!
Bonus: If anyone has muted their slack notifications (see above) and you need help with a fire lane issue, you call or text them to talk about it.
Schedule meetings efficiently
“30 is the new 60” - After 30-45 minutes in a meeting, attention spans begin to decline. Keep meetings short and if you do have to schedule a meeting that is longer than 30 minutes, make sure you have a good reason for it.
Ask yourself the following questions to help schedule meetings efficiently:
- What is the purpose?
- What is the outcome?
- Who needs to be there?
- How much time do I really need?
Use some Google Hacks to help:
- Change the default meeting length on your calendar. Can you cover everything in 20 minutes instead of 30?
- Enable Speedy Meetings to end calls longer than 30 minutes a few minutes early to get a little time back in your day.
We’re set up to be flexible
Want to work a strict schedule? Block out your calendar as needed to do that. Need to visit your elderly neighbor 2 afternoons a week? Work earlier or later on those days. Client on the West coast keep you working late into the evening? Try to move things around so that you can come in a little late or leave a little early the next day to recover. As long as you show up to key client and internal meetings, are reasonably responsive during office hours, communicate with your team and put in at least 40 - do what works!
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you don’t need a sick day
Frankly, your work isn’t very good when you’re sick, cranky and unfocused. Take the time you need to get well enough to return to work with focus and energy. Don’t be tempted to tell people “I’ll be online, but I might be slow to respond because I’m sick.” Be present and reliable or take the day to rest and get better faster.
Give yourself a break
Remote work requires a lot of collaboration and it takes effort. Short breaks can help you refocus and recharge. Build in breaks to your schedule to eat lunch, take a walk, stretch, or do whatever you want to do!
Give me a break
Build in breaks to your workshops and meetings that are over an hour long. Your attendees will appreciate it!
Time block for heads down time
Been on calls all day? Block some time to do the things you need to do outside of meetings.
Change your environment
Sometimes a change in scenery is all you need to be able to focus and get it done! Designating different spaces for different types of work can be a game changer for productivity.
Get off screens and go back to basics. Break out notecards, paper, and whiteboards when brainstorming or creating decks. Do your storytelling on paper first!
Make video conversations feel more natural
Looking at yourself all day can be quite distracting. Hide yourself from view to make the conversation feel more natural.
Back up from your camera so you have more space to move around like you would in an in-person conversation.
Use speaker view to focus only on one speaker at a time instead of being distracted by a grid of faces.
Use technology to help maintain work life balance and allow others to do the same
When you are working from home, maintaining the separation between your work life and your home life becomes difficult., It is important to set boundaries and allow yourself time off. Set your working hours on your Google calendar, Slack, iPhone, or Android.