As many organizations have made the decision to have employees work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic response, many employees are now finding themselves working remotely for the first time and discovering the distractions that home can bring.
So, we polled our Blackbaud Champions for their best tips on how to manage and stay productive. We received an overwhelming response and have included some of their responses below. Unsurprisingly, many of the tips revolve around finding a good workspace and getting ready for the day, so shower and get off the bed before reading this and you’ll already be ahead of the game!
Keep a Schedule and Get Organized
- “Prepare your daily schedule/task list the evening before. This is a basic organization practice, but I find it even more important when telecommuting to help increase focus and productivity throughout the day. Also, if you’re anything like me, set an alarm for every few hours to remind you to get up and step away from your desk for a couple of minutes to get the blood flowing!”
–Bekka Austin, Senior Services of Snohomish County
- “1) As much as possible, stick to your normal routines (start/end time). It will help keep work from leaching into other parts of your life and help maintain a healthy work/life balance. 2) Again, if possible, take a full hour lunch break where you go for a walk, garden, bike, or other exercise during the workday. Not only will it help with stress, but it will make your afternoon more productive. 3) Tracking your work via a detailed to-do list is super helpful. We all can get pulled away from our work during the day and knowing where to pick back up is really helpful. Also, it helps you feel like you’re accomplishing something, even something small and incremental. Stay safe and sane!”
–Jahna Balk, Lycee Francais de New York
- “1) Keep your regular hours as if you were still on site, 2) Utilize the web conferencing software that is available to connect with co-workers along with email and phone, and 3) Get up and move around – it’s easy to forget when you don’t get the same kind of in-person interruptions.”
– Christine Cooke, Charles Armstrong School
- “Definitely trying to keep my regular schedule, and prepping for the day in terms of dressing, eating, etc., as per normal. Especially useful if/when participating in video meetings.”
– Gurukarm Khalsa, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston
Create a Comfortable (but not too comfortable) and Focused Workspace
- “It sounds basic, but get organized as soon as possible – set up a working office, don’t have things in boxes or feeling temporary. You feel better and are more productive if you are in a functional space. Until I took time to find places for everything and a system that worked my disorganization was adding to my anxiety.”
– Shannon Muir, 4-H Ontario
- “Make sure you have the tools to do your job. Are you working at your dining room table, moving everything when you are finished and it’s time for dinner? Would you do that if your regular office? I don’t think so. If you have the space, set up a permanent workspace for you that has all the tools you need to do your job. You’ll probably have plenty of phone meetings, webinars and other online connections. Add some speakers to your computer set up so you can hear your associates clearly during your chats with them. Maybe a headset with microphone would make your chats easier for you and for those you are chatting with.”
– Mark Guncheon, Bon Secours Health System
- “The night before, set up & clean your work area so you aren’t distracted by messes and can get straight to work. Remove evidence of hobbies and other distractions from the room as much as you are able. All about that crisp workspace!”
– Kylea Johnson, Centralia College Foundation
- “I find that setting up my work area where there is as much natural light as possible helps keep the doom and gloom away!”
– Patti Holmes, Jack and Jill Children’s Center
- “Don’t work on your bed. A table is a better place to focus. Also, don’t work outside the hours you usually do.”
– Jose Orora, The San Diego Museum of Art
Get Up and Move Around
- “Just like you get up from your desk occasionally at work, don’t restrict yourself from doing the same when working at home. It’s needed physically and mentally.”
– JoAnn Strommen, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
- “Do remember to get up and stretch on a regular basis. There are plenty of suggestions for quick routines. Without co-workers or meetings, you won’t be moving around as much as you’re used to.”
– Petra Hall, Canada’s National Ballet School
- “Taking little breaks here and there to finish household chores helps break up the day. Chances are you’re going to get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time and doing little chores helps me prevent burnout.”
– Lawrence Rush, Van Andel Research Institute
Bring the Water Cooler Chat Online
- “Keep connected to your coworkers on a personal level. We send group emails where we give each other book, movie, and TV recommendations, and also touch base on what’s going on in our lives.”
– Karen Stuhlfeier, St. Paul Academy and Summit School
- “Do a 5-10 minute Google Hangout/Meet coffee break in the morning with your work pals to keep connected even while at home.”
– Amy Hentschke, Our Lady of Mercy High School
Do that work you’ve been putting off and take advantage of the time to do professional development!
- “For some, more work can be accomplished when they are not in the office. It is a great chance to get to the database in order, update procedures, and get more online training from Blackbaud University’s amazing instructors. Great time to get a Learn subscription if you don’t already have one.”
– Elizabeth Johnson, The Putney School
Do you have more tips to share with your peers to help them stay focused, motivated and engaged? Add them in the comment section below!
To help the social good community prepare for and respond to any impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Blackbaud has also compiled a list of resources from across the sector that may be useful. Visit www.blackbaud.com/covid-19 for more information.