I’ve been working remotely for the last 3+ years and have devised a “must-avoids” to boost my productivity. Here are the top 5 ones:
1. Ignoring energy management
You aren’t at peak energy levels throughout the day. For example, some of you might be productive in the morning, while some might feel energized at night. Despite this, you schedule your tasks according to time management, not energy management, which leads to mediocre work and decreased output.
What should you do?
a) Pay attention to your Biological Prime Time (BPT). It refers to when you have the most energy or feel most productive in accomplishing your tasks.
b) After analyzing your BPT, if you conclude you’re productive in the morning, then schedule your tasks accordingly. Ensure you do your most creative and urgent tasks in the beginning.
c) You shouldn’t waste energy doing manual and repetitive tasks. Use Zapier to automate those tasks and save energy to work on things that require your creativity.
2. Thinking you can work with distractions
I hear you say, “No one thinks or works like that.” But,
a) Don’t you have social media sites running while you work?
b) Or keep your email tab open?
c) Or answer your colleague’s message in the middle of your work?
All these distractions suck the valuable hours you could use for work.
Here’s how to eliminate these distractions:
a) Tell your colleagues your working and communication hours—so they know when not to disturb you and when to contact you for help or collaboration.
b) Use Freedom to block social media, YouTube, and other distracting websites and apps.
c) Use Mailman to block emails when you work. You can schedule all the emails to receive during a specific time of the day (outside your working hours). This way, you can read and reply to all emails at once.
For emails, you can’t miss, use Mailman’s VIP feature that lets you receive these emails as soon as they are sent.
d) Remove distraction triggers from your working environment. For example, don’t have a sofa, snacks, video games, or anything that will distract you at your workstation.
3. Doing all the work yourself
Don’t fall into the trap of doing all the work by yourself. If you do, you’ll complete tasks that are the other person’s responsibilities and miss your deadlines, work on less-important work, and burn out.
What you should do instead:
Learn how to delegate.
a) Know what and when to delegate. Segregate tasks that are tiny, tedious, and time-consuming for you and that fall under the bucket of the other person’s responsibilities.
b) Pick the right person for the job. They must know how to do the job, like the work, and have time to do it.
c) Brief them on the work details, your expectations, the communication channel, how you’ll judge the work, and the deadline.
d) Provide necessary resources for the work.
e) Clarify their doubts and give them the freedom to do the work their way (as long as they achieve the desired output).
4. Attending unproductive meetings
Researchers have found remote workers are scheduling more 30-minute meetings than they ever had before, which is bad news because excessive meetings decrease employee productivity, happiness, and work satisfaction.
You yourself might have seen this happening in your company—how discussions that could have been on Slack/email are scheduled for a 30-minute meeting, which ends up wasting 1 hour for the attendees.
Is there a better alternative? You bet.
a) Prepare a helpful guide (like the one below) for your employees to decide when to host a meeting. It will save time for everyone.
b) And for topics that require a meeting, here’s how to run one:
• Invite only those people who are necessary. You’ll have less chaos, better discussion, and save time. You can record the meeting to distribute it to everyone else.
• Share the meeting agenda in advance. It should cover the time of the meeting, the importance and goal of the meeting, the topic of the discussion, and how every attendee should contribute (with the note that they should come prepared for what they have to say during the call).
• Start the meeting by reminding everyone of its goal, and have a facilitator to ensure everyone gets a chance to speak.
• End the meeting by summarizing the discussion and assigning responsibilities.
5. Resisting rest
By working non-stop and refusing rest, you’ll not only burnout, but also decrease your output and efficiency. So, ensure you’re intentional about resting to recharge yourself to boost your work productivity.
Here are some steps you could take:
a) Take a short break (15–20 minutes) after every 2.5-3 hours of deep work.
b) Never work on Sundays unless urgent (Give yourself a day to re-energize)
c) Avoid working overtime consistently.