How can you stay on task as a remote worker?

Staying on task is no small feat, regardless of where you’re working. In fact, one of the oft-cited drawbacks of being in an office is the constant distractions that pull your focus. Nearby conversations and people interrupting you for “quick” questions can be the death knell for productivity. Some of the #remotechat answers serve as great inspiration for staying on task.

Start the Day Off Right

Do your most important task at the beginning of the day, or when you have the most energy. When you make a commitment to get this biggest, highest priority task out of the way, it’ll get done.

Don’t Multitask

Shannon says there are statistics saying that multi-tasking or task switching can cause productivity to drop by 40%! I can believe that. When I come up with something I know needs to get done, if I can’t do it in 5 minutes or less, I add it to a to-do list and save it for later.

Take a Break

Breaks are also helpful for staying on task, or getting creatively unblocked. I commonly go for a walk during lunch in the summertime, and it allows me to return to the office refreshed and recharged. As a bonus, if I’m spinning my wheels on a piece of problematic code or a design problem, stepping away and going for a walk, hike or run helps my brain focus on something else. Invariably during the activity, a solution (or many!) arrives in my head and I’m eager to return to the computer to try it out.

Make a Plan

Plan out your day and make sure distractions will be held at bay. You can use something as simple as a Post-It note, or use an app that specializes in planning out your time. Allot a specific amount of time to each task and you’ll make sure each one gets the attention you think it deserves when you make your list. If you know there’ll be potential for distraction, like Katherine notes below, be proactive in planning focused time for yourself.

Turn Distractions Off

Carlie talks about a lot of ways of reducing distractions in her tweet, right down to what you’re listening to. After reading this, I ended up subscribing to brain.fm after a trial. Having something ambient, without lyrics, really helped me double down and focus. Couple that with putting your phone in airplane mode and/or turning off notifications on your phone and desktop, and you have a winning combination for a stretch of productive time.

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