7 Tips for Better Productivity
Like many offices, AMC transitioned to a fully remote work environment back in March. I was happy about the change and envisioned sailing through my to-do list each day and checking off all of those lingering tasks I’d been meaning to finish. After all, I’d been very productive working from home 1 day a week for years.
As some of us have discovered, though, it takes a bit of strategy and planning to be productive when working from home full time. (If you haven’t read Mike Norbut’s 6 Tips for Thriving While Working Remotely, you should.) Here are 7 more strategies AMC staff have been using to stay productive the past few months.
Close your email, Skype, Teams, IM, etc.
Have a difficult project to finish or need to focus on a task that isn’t your favorite? Create heads-down time by closing your email and instant messaging (IM) for a period of time.
Many of us want to be seen as available when we’re working in the virtual office space but responding to messages as soon as they deliver can disrupt your focus. Not to mention, it can be very easy to convince yourself that an email is urgent enough to stop working on that task you’ve been dreading (Julie just emailed photos of her new puppy? I need to close this budget worksheet and look at it now!).
If you can’t see the message, you won’t be distracted by it.
Schedule movement breaks to recharge
Just as it’s important to create heads-down time, it’s equally as important to schedule time to move around, especially since many of us aren’t walking to and from meetings at home as we were in the office.
Try taking a quick movement break every 2 hours or a little longer one every 4. The frequency isn’t as important as finding the schedule that works best for you. If you have workout equipment at home, great. If not, stretches, yoga, and walking up/down stairs or outside are good options.
Make a point to go outside at least once a day to get fresh air, a change of scenery, and reconnect to the world beyond your computer. Schedule your next meeting as a “walking meeting” and encourage attendees to take a walk outside as they talk.
Set milestones and include rewards
Set mini goals for the day or week and reward yourself for meeting them with something you enjoy. Keep your milestones easily attainable to hold your focus. For instance, I gave myself a goal of finishing this blog post by noon with a reward of indulging in a little post-COVID vacation planning during lunch.
Find the routine that works for you
A consistent workday routine can increase your productivity, especially during stressful times. But, your routine at home may be different than the one you followed when working in the office. Some people prefer to get up early before their family is awake to carve out quiet time for projects, while others do their best work in the afternoon after a morning workout. Find what works best for you and stay with it.
Nurture connections with colleagues
Working remotely makes those impromptu conversations had by the coffee machine (or elsewhere in the office) more challenging, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t happen. It may seem counterintuitive to take time out to connect when you have a long list of projects to complete, but you’ll actually be more productive if you do.
Building connections gives you a network of people to bounce ideas off of, collaborate with, and commiserate with when needed. Make it a point to periodically connect with that colleague you turn to for advice or the team member who sits across from you and shares your passion for cooking and Netflix.
Take time for lunch
It can be tempting to think you’ll save time if you work through lunch, but don’t fall in that trap. Taking a lunch, even a short one, will mentally and physically prepare you for a busy afternoon ahead. If you enjoy cooking, plan to make a homemade lunch every day or meal prep on the weekends to ensure you always have options on hand.
Be kind to yourself
I saved this tip for last because it’s the most important one. Be kind to yourself. We all know this is a challenging and unprecedented time, so remind yourself you’re doing your best in the face of extraordinary circumstances. Don’t waste valuable time, energy, or productivity fretting about how you should have, would have, or could have done something different (work related or otherwise). Focus on what is in front of you and give yourself some much-deserved compassion.
Katherine Wayne is senior manager of corporate communications at AMC.
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