Before we begin, let me introduce myself: I’m Kyler Ashby, the Creative Services Manager looking after our wickedly talented Community and Originals teams. I have a robust leadership background in retail management for brands like EB Games, Apple, and The Source, and spent my younger years studying video production and photography while supporting an international film festival here in Canada. I’ve had many opportunities to work remotely over the years; however, this past year I have fully committed to it at Evolve.

When you work from home, there are endless distractions and interruptions that can make it difficult to stay focused. Whether it’s social media, household chores, or just the temptation of playing video games all day, staying on task can be a real challenge.

Another challenge is the lack of structure and accountability that comes with a traditional office environment. When you’re working from home, there’s no one beside you to keep you on track. Managers and peers rely on you to get your work done and will always provide support, but it’s all up to you to manage your time effectively and stay motivated.

But don’t fret, there are many ways to overcome these challenges and stay productive! Before reading on,  recognize that everyone is different. While these tips have been successful for some, they may not apply to all!

Here are some of our top tips:

Set up a designated workspace

Similar to how we all like to have a dedicated gaming setup, create a designated desktop workspace that is free from distractions. This can help to create a separation between work and personal time, and can help you stay focused on your tasks. To take this a step further you can use tools like multiple desktop views in Windows: 

This can be a handy trick to keep a personal desktop view separate from your work activities, or to separate your communications from focus work. You could even go deeper by creating different user profiles on your PC to prevent temptation.

Don’t sleep on your physical workspace either. It can make a big difference to balance the cozy vibes of a home office with an organized and functional desk area. 

  • Start by decluttering your space, giving a satisfying wave goodbye to all those unnecessary distractions. 
  • Get crafty with storage solutions that suit your style and keep things within arm’s reach. 
  • Don’t forget to add some personality with things like comfy seating, funky decor, and a hint of greenery (if that’s your thing).

Remember, your workspace should be your happy place – a spot where you can hit your peak workflow with ease.

Establish a routine and take breaks regularly

Create a routine and stick to a regular schedule

Set specific times for work, breaks, and other activities. This can help create a sense of structure, and routine that can help you stay on track. 

Avoid hitting that snooze button! 

Understanding sleep inertia is a game changer to working remotely. The latest research from the National Library of Medicine shows that you can experience a 41% reduction in performance from interrupting slow wave sleep (which takes place at the beginning of a cycle).The gist is that even going back to sleep for 10-20 minutes can restart the deepest state of the sleep cycle, which can last for 75-90 minutes. It will cause a state of grogginess, poor short-term memory, slower thinking and learning that can last up to four hours.

Chart showing how sleep inertia affects your day

If you really want to get wild you can strive toward waking up without any alarm. A study done by eachnight in 2021  found that 61% of individuals who do that feel well-rested throughout the day, and it even makes  you 10% more likely to feel well-rested than those using alarms.

Survey results from eachnight study done in 2021

Take breaks regularly!!! 

Yes! It really is that important for maintaining focus. It can be difficult to stay on task for long periods of time, so taking breaks to recharge and refocus your attention can be hugely beneficial. Adults need recess too, okay?

Practice the 20-20-20 rule: 

Every 20 minutes, look up from your screen and focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Ideally something not electronic :D. This is your excuse to buy that sweet wall art you’ve always wanted…

See, it’s all connected. The better your sleep, the better you are able to take short breaks and get back into a focused workflow quicker.

Use technology to your advantage

You’re probably already a pro at using technology when it comes to gaming, so apply those skills to your work. As the famous saying goes: “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.”
So utilize productivity apps and tools like task managers or time tracking apps to stay organized and motivated. 

There is Notion, the digital maestro of organization and project management. Feel the efficiency surge with Taskmaster 9000, a no-nonsense task-tracking overlord. Unleash your inner artist with Trello, where colourful cards dance to your command. Or find Zen-like serenity in Asana’s peaceful task-tracking gardens.

At Evolve, we currently use ClickUp, because until we have AI-brain integration, you can’t possibly keep track of everything there is to do all the time. Though maybe you can? But why waste all that brain sauce on icky, boring things like deadlines, am I right? 

ClickUp allows us to create customized task lists, assign teammates, set start and due dates, and leave the paper lists behind to effortlessly manage projects. We appreciate that it has an intuitive timer that allows you to gain valuable insights into what people are working on—and as an agency, which client they are working with. 

okay, okay, so maybe Taskmaster 9000 isn’t a real thing, but it sounds pretty cool! Consider using focus apps that block distracting websites or notifications. 

There is Focus Keeper, a time management app that uses the Pomodoro Technique to boost concentration. The Pomodoro Technique is a method that involves working in 25-minute intervals, called Pomodoros, followed by short breaks. So set those work intervals, take short breaks, and bid farewell to wandering thoughts!

If you need something stricter you can try Freedom, the “digital fortress”. Freedom will straight-up block tempting websites and apps to create a distraction-free oasis. 

These are only some of the tools that are out there to organize and limit distractions to find your ideal flow. 

Break tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces

Think about how you tackle a big boss battle by breaking it down into smaller pieces, discovering its weakness in phases. Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces can help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Rather than trying to tackle a large project all at once, divide it into smaller tasks that can be completed over time.

It really is that simple sometimes!

Create boundaries between work and personal time

When you work from home the lines between the two can easily blur. It’s too tempting to read your emails or Slack messages before your day, or even after. In no time, you end up working an 18-hour day without even realizing it!

It can be crucial to set boundaries between your personal and work time. Boundaries can help prevent burnout and ensure that you have time to recharge. 

Set specific times for work and personal time, and try to stick to them as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to make something a tomorrow problem. If you deliver that email/iteration/doc past your end of day, it probably won’t get read until the morning. And even if it will, you don’t want to encourage or make someone feel obligated to overwork themselves!

It’s better to send a note letting someone know you will hit them with that email fresh and rested in the morning versus squeezing out what’s left of your brain for the day.

Practice self-care

Prioritize self-care to stay healthy and focused during work sessions. Taking care of yourself is paramount for maintaining focus and managing stress. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Seriously, go touch grass!

By following these tips, we hope you can improve your productivity and achieve your goals while working remotely. And who knows, maybe you’ll even have more time for your personal passions (or more time to finally play that game in your backlog). 

We understand the unique challenges that come with working remotely (some of us have been doing it almost definitely longer than Twitter has existed 👀).

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