👩💻 Today’s Tip: When you’re working from home, remember that you’re the boss.
Many of us have settled into working from home at this point in our pandemic lives, and it’s likely that you’re really used to it by now (or itching to get back to the office). Either way, it’s time to improve — or at least, reframe — how you see remote work. Here’s the thing: When you’re the only one in your workspace… you’re your own manager.
One of the worst things about office work is also one of the best: You’re constantly interacting with your colleagues. Those interactions can be distracting, time consuming, and frustrating ー especially if you’re deep in thought when someone pops their head into your office, or interrupts your reverie as you’re pouring a cup of coffee in the kitchen. But they also ensure you stay connected to your co-workers, keep you at least vaguely aware of what they’re each working on, and help prevent life from getting lonely or dull.
Work from home, and you experience the reverse boon and bane…
Chances are, your job has changed in the past year. And it’s not just that we’ve swapped cubicles for kitchen tables, donned protective gear, and adopted Zoom for everything from board meetings to birthday parties. How we think about work — and how we feel about it — has changed, too.
In her newsletter Culture Study, Anne Helen Petersen, whose book Out of Office comes out later this year, writes: “This has been the hardest thing for people who didn’t work from home before the pandemic to visualize: your current WFH scenario is not your future WFH scenario.” She predicts…
📂 Today’s tip: Use your Drafts folder.
Here’s the task-prioritization hack to try when you’re tired of to-do lists and calendars. Jason Chatfield writes on Medium that this is a trick that works “100% of the millionty zillion times I’ve done it”: At the start of the week, write out, or at least start, the main emails that you have to write. You can also just start an email with the subject line reflecting something that needs to get done that week. (For example: “Touching base with Jason about Project Z’s deliverables.”) …
Because I write about distraction and how to avoid it, I often get asked the question “Aren’t distractions sometimes a good thing? Don’t we all need some distraction in our lives?”
Distractions are always bad. Period. Diversions, on the other hand, can be good. This isn’t just hair-splitting: The two concepts are fundamentally different, and if you want to use your time productively, you need to understand the important distinction between them.
As I explain in my book Indistractable, distraction is an action that pulls you away from what you intended to do.
Distraction prevents you from living out…
📥 Today’s tip: Automate your email workflow.
At the end of the day, talking about work over email isn’t the same as producing the work you were hired for. To wrest your working hours from the jaws of your inbox, you must automate your workflow.
In his new book A World Without Email, the productivity mastermind Cal Newport suggests scheduling recurring emails ahead of time and using templates wherever possible. “Make automatic what you can reasonably make automatic,” writes Newport, “and only then worry about what to do with what remains.”
🤔 Today’s tip: Schedule a “hunch hour.”
Brainstorm sessions can be useful, but they can also be intimidating. Fred Dust recently wrote on Medium about an alternative: the hunch hour. “A hunch is a whisper of an idea — something that might come to you on a long walk or in the shower. Usually, it’s something so half-baked that you’d normally never utter it aloud, and therefore, it will never become what it could.”
One thing I can say with confidence about remote work: It does absolutely nothing to ease impostor syndrome. Over the past year, even as the world turned upside down, many of my therapy clients have continued to battle work-related worries: They don’t deserve a recent promotion; they aren’t qualified to give that upcoming Zoom presentation; they find it hard to feel professional and accomplished when the sink is full of dishes and they haven’t worn real pants in weeks.
Surely I’m not the only one who has found it difficult to focus and work efficiently recently, by which I mean for the past year or so. But I’ve also discovered an unexpected trick for getting work done in difficult times: You don’t need to find your own productivity if you can borrow it from someone else.
I’m not talking about some kind of dark magic where I transfer my procrastination to others. The alchemy I mean is the burst of energy I can get simply from watching TV. …
☀️ Today’s tip: Go outside.
We’ve spent some time on Forge singing the praises of spending time out in the cold. Great news for anyone who’s still skeptical: Soon, you won’t even have to worry about getting chilly — which means it will be easier than ever to reap the restorative benefits of being outside.
For a mental-health day (or quick midday break) that truly recharges you, spend it out of the house. As Ashley Laderer explains in Elemental: “Studies have shown a link between proximity to ‘green space’ and a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms,” and getting out…