May 9th, 2020
Having a consistent and early routine in the morning creates a daily rhythm for your work. My team has a team meeting at 9:50, and I find that if I commit to getting something done before that meeting it sets me up for a great day.
As much as we hate commutes, they can provide a key piece of the ritual that gets our brains into ‘work mode’. I always make a pot of coffee directly before sitting down - it helps me switch into my work context. Some people find that putting on their perfume or listening to the podcast they normally listen to on their commute helps them ease in. Figure out what works for you!
Have two or three key touchpoints - for instance, one in the morning and another in the afternoon - to give waypoints for your day and your goals.
Work in a space that settles your mind into work. For some people, that’s a special desk or a computer monitor they only use for work. For me, it’s a special ergonomic keyboard that I only use when I’m working.
If you have bookmarks in your browser for social media, delete them. If you have them on your phone, try moving the icon to a different page on your homescreen. Simple changes can be critical in a moment of distraction.
Every morning, in either a meeting or message to your team, tell your coworkers what you plan on getting done. They probably won’t be checking up on you, but simple goal setting can keep you on track.
Focused, solo tasks - such as writing an article, programming, or planning - are best done in uninterrupted sessions at your most focused time of day. I do my best work from 10am-12:30pm, just as my caffeine levels peak. I block off a time in my calendar for “Focused time” to let my co-workers know that I’m heads-down and won’t be responding to messages.
Whether it’s pomodoro or working while you do your laundry, timing work sessions and breaks can give a rhythm to your day that keeps you productive. See our article on Pomodoro timing.
It is so important, especially if you work independently most of your day, to interact with other humans throughout the day. At my job, I set up a 30 min “Team Lunch” meeting every day to get a bit of social interaction at a regular time every day. If you’re sick of Zoom calling your coworkers, find another friend and work together! Do lighter tasks for an hour while you chat. Bonus: this is a great way to stay in touch with friends who may be too far away to see in person.
Just as you might start to pack up at 5:15pm on the dot each day in the office, pick a time that you’re going to sign off and tell your coworkers in the morning if anything has changed. Then, when the time comes, close your laptop. Sometimes it will be necessary to work longer hours, but I have been much more successful setting 5pm to be my ending time every day, and then logging on again at 8pm only if there’s urgent work to be done. That way I can alway plan on a break at 5pm.
Whether it’s kids, a spouse, or a family member - set clear expectations and re-enforce them at the start of every day. Listen to your cohabitants and communicate why you’re setting boundaries. This is very case by case, but as long as you deal in compassion you can find something that works for you.