I hope you're doing well.
Today I wanted to talk about something that's all the more relevant in today's pretty much necessary work from home society, and that's how to spark up and maintain productivity when working remotely.
When in an office environment, your motivation is instilled in you by the others working in proximity. It's also provided by the mandatory routines around showing up and getting things done within a set window. At home, these aren't done for you; neither is the oversight and observation from your managers to make sure you're on schedule.
It's just you.
You need to take over all of those roles and build the habits, routines and rewards to get you to your goals and milestones. This sounds overwhelming and done incorrectly, it can be. But just as with learning a new skill, it must be taken a step at a time. Let's break down those steps.
It's tempting when first working from home to set up on the sofa or in bed and never change out of your pyjamas. But doing so will put you in the wrong mindset. Instead, shower and get ready just as you would if you were going to the office. Dress for getting things done. Not for relaxing.
You should also seek out a quiet place with a desk (I use a standing desk, but you can sit down if you like) that can serve as your altar of work. Setting a place for only work to happen means that whenever you're there, your mind will automatically switch into productivity mode.
As well as having a dedicated mindset and location for your work, it's essential to plan and build up habits. These habits serve as the checkpoints in your day and make sure you're always working on the things you know you should be.
In my own work, I've found that having 1-2 main key things I build a day around to be the most effective. I usually plan my days 2-3 days in advance and always schedule in time for breaks, food and walks. So as not to get lost in a rabbit hole.
When planning your routines, be realistic. I've fallen into the trap of pre-planning every minute of my time, only for it to quickly fall apart or be impossible to execute. Start by building your days around a single task you want to achieve and build up from there.
It's all well and good planning a routine and building up habits to get things done. But without including accountability or rewards (or both), it'll be harder to follow through on what you plan. A great way to stay accountable is to link up with another person and check in with each other (maybe include a bet to make things exciting) to ensure you both achieve your goals and habits.
Tying in with accountability are rewards. They work in a similar way to having an accountability buddy but are more self-sufficient. It's pretty simple. Whenever you complete a goal or a series of habits, go for a fancy dinner, buy yourself something or do something nice. It'll give you that drive needed to get to the finish line.
Take these steps one at a time and work to make them a part of your regular work. Once they're built up and consistent, you're able to adapt and refine to fit your needs.
Adjustment and iteration is key to making a system that works for you.
This originally appeared on my newsletter.