I have enjoyed traveling for work in the past because a different location and scenery is rejuvenating to start a work week. Now that travels are restricted, I have to find ways to stay productive and focused while collaborating with colleagues at various locations. I had developed bad habits by working through the day, going through and responding to emails without breaks. Easily done from your home office. I soon realized I had to develop a schedule to keep me from insanity throughout my work day. Some tips I have mastered to stay sane and productive are:
Schedule regular breaks – Plowing through work is great, especially in the mornings which is when I am very productive. It is best to pause throughout the day to take short breaks. These breaks can reduce stress and give your brain a much-needed recharge.
The Pomodoro Technique is a great tool to proactively schedule breaks in between periods. For example, I schedule an hour of work time and a 10-minute break four times in the morning hours, then take a 30 minute or hour lunch. I take a real lunch break! I repeat the same process in the afternoon.
Create a schedule that best works for you – My most productive hours are in the morning; therefore, I plan around my productive hours. This does get tricky when I’m collaborating with a team, and worse when we are on different time zones. What has worked for me, is to start my work day a lot earlier, read and respond to important emails, complete all or some of my solo tasks before everyone is ready to collaborate.
Plan your daily or weekly schedule in advance – Planning your schedules in advance minimizes stress and helps me get back on track even when my day gets disrupted by new tasks/requests. At the end of every workday, I either update my task list with changes or write a list for the next day. Planning ahead reminds me where I left off the prior work day and where to start on a new work day. Another way to distress that works for me; I utilize my playlist on Spotify to keep me sane.
Phone calls can be the scoundrel of your work day, schedule them wisely.
Phone calls throughout the day can be a distraction and deter you from accomplishing your daily goals. Phone calls and returning voicemails must be prioritized. Minimize the amount of calls handled daily.
I use messaging tools such as Google Hangouts where you can send messages to a group for quick updates without the need for a phone call.
Similar to Microsoft teams, Zapier is another great office tool for workplace chat and getting things done. Modern day office relies heavily on team chats to convey quick messages that are relevant in getting the job done. Do not stretch yourself too thin.
Remember, travel will resume and we will get the well needed work travel breaks. Even when work is hectic away from your local or home office, the after-work events in a different city, and networking with other business travelers, make it all worthwhile.