The last year or so has been a real rollercoaster. Lockdown has changed everyone’s lives, but we’re also thankful that we were able to work remotely, keeping the business afloat.
We consider ourselves lucky and, if you’ve been able to keep working from home as well, perhaps you should too. Yes, despite all the difficulties that working from home entails.
We’ve learned a lot in the past months and wanted to share our experience with you in hopes that it might help you get through these chaotic times.
Plan Your Day…the Evening Before
Productivity gurus say that a productive day starts with a productive morning. But in order to have a productive morning, one that isn’t wasted on emails, social media or playing games on your phone (unless that’s what being productive means for you), you have to plan ahead.
So, the evening before we suggest you:
- Write a list of 1-3 priorities for the day: write them down somewhere you won’t miss them like on a sticky note, in your calendar, or set a reminder on your phone.
- Review your plans and schedule: things don’t get done unless you make time for them. Every task you plan on getting done has to be allocated a (realistic) time slot. Check your commitments and create a schedule which includes your priorities for the day.
For example, we plan ahead and, perhaps even several days ahead, allot specific time to all our clients throughout the day/week, specific times for meetings and, within our project management system, allot estimated times to individual tasks. All of this greatly helps us to keep the business running smoothly.
**CALL TO ACTION** We take great pride in our work, and planning ahead enables us to keep our promises and live up to our positive reputation. Check out some of our client reviews for yourself.
Start Your Day With Intention
If you start your day on the right foot, things tend to fall into place. Or at least that’s our experience.
Basically, this means starting the day on your own terms, be it with some peace and quiet with a cup of coffee, a quick meditation session, a newspaper in hand, or blasting some energising music during a morning run. All of these are great habits, of course. That being said, your idea of an ideal start to your day might be entirely different. You do you. But try and start your day on your own terms. This means:
- Not waking up in panic mode: try not to snooze your alarm.
- Leave time to complete some kind of morning routine, regardless of how brief (e.g. just brushing your teeth and savouring your first cup of coffee) or elaborate it might be.
The Legmark team knows how to use accountability to motivate us to get up and start work on time. We use meetings to your advantage. This leads us to our next point.
Don’t Try to Go It Alone
Have one or several people who you trust and that you can talk to throughout the day when you need some support. In a work setting, it’s best if these are trusted colleagues and friends who can also serve as a kind of accountability system.
Besides, working from home all the time can get lonely. In the past months, the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression has risen. To help fight this, it’s important to keep in touch, and emails just don’t do the trick. Opt for video or at least voice calls when you can.
In our blog post on Top 15 Legal Marketing Tips for 2020, we suggest you “focus on the community you’re in”. In legal marketing, this may refer to focusing on local SEO, but in terms of productivity, it means focusing on those nearest and dearest to you. Those that nourish you. Humans are social animals. Bear this in mind.
Be Honest With Your Loved Ones, but Make Compromises
Although surrounding yourself with people that energise you can be beneficial for your mental health, it might prove detrimental to your productivity. If you’re living with other people or living alone, you might get distracted by others who aren’t your work colleagues. You kids or your spouse might need you or a friend might call and want to catch up or grab a drink.
Just like you would establish boundaries for work with your colleagues, we recommend you find a way to let your loved ones know when you’re working and how they can reach you should something be urgent. Notice the emphasis on “urgent”?
Of course, if you have small children that don’t quite understand why you’re not available all the time, this might mean making compromises such as:
Multiple Computers? How About Multiple Desktops?
So using the little time you might have available for focused work (even if it’s in little bursts between babysitting sessions, for example) is extremely important. Distraction is the enemy.
Regardless of what operating system you’re using, there’s an easy way to do this. On Windows PCs, you can create multiple desktops for different uses. For those of you using Macs, you can create multiple virtual spaces.
There are many more techy tips you can use to limit your options to stay focused in the digital world such as blocking distracting websites and programs. But this is a topic all on its own.
Just like separating work from your private life on your computer will help you greatly, establishing temporal and physical boundaries in the real world helps you stay on track and be productive during work hours (and enjoy your free time, guilt-free!).
Set Work-Life Boundaries
In short, this means two things:
- Knowing when to stop working;
- Knowing where you work.
Let’s address these separately, shall we?
Know When to Stop Working
If you followed our first tip, this one won’t be so difficult, at least not in theory. You have your calendar, you set your work hours, designate time for specific tasks or clients and voila – you have a schedule and an established work time.
In practice? You get a call or email past 5 p.m. (or whenever your workday ends) and you get drawn back in just like that. “Let me fire off just one more email,” you say to yourself. “Just a quick text,” you lie to yourself. There’s nothing quick about it.
The best way to stick to the boundaries you set for yourself is to make them clear to everyone. At Legmark, we know who’s doing what when. We communicate things clearly with our colleagues. So, when you have an agreement with your boss and colleagues on when they can reach you and when you’re out-of-office (and vice versa), you’re all on the same page.
Don’t forget to clarify things with your clients as well. We communicate clearly with our clients about when and how much time we’ll get devoting to them based on our initial agreements. Some flexibility is necessary, of course. But generally speaking, you have to be transparent about what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.
Know Where You Work
While the prior tip might be more general and applicable even to an office surrounding, this one is extremely important when working from home.
Separating work from life in terms of physical space will help you mentally shift from work to home mode. Some might be so lucky to have a home office. Others not so much. Make do with what you have, even if it’s just moving from your living room to the dining room table and putting up a post-it saying you’re working or switching from one chair to another.
Just make it clear to yourself (and your housemates) that you’re either in work mode or not.
Setting clear work-life boundaries like this will also make you more productive. The mindset shift will make you less likely to get distracted by chores…or the fridge…or your pet cat. Whatever your kryptonite might be.
If it weren’t for implementing these tips throughout 2020, the crazy year that it was, we wouldn’t have been able to get nearly as much work done as we have. We’ve been up to quite a bit and will be announcing some of our most recent projects soon enough. But this will have to be a teaser for now.
If you’d like to be one of the first to know about our new offers, read up on our most recent projects, and get more useful tips on life, work, and, first and foremost, legal marketing (which is our speciality after all), subscribe to our newsletter.