Focused working

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 • Productivity • 1 minute reading time

This article is part of a series discussing How to stay in touch (and stay productive) whilst you're working remotely.

Keeping a routine and staying productive is really tough when you’re away from your usual schedule.

A lot of the things you normally do provide anchors to your day. Even simple stuff like getting into the office and making a cup of tea (usually a mint tea for me) is a punctuation point in your day.

What do you do when that’s gone all of a sudden?

In the past couple of weeks Genius Division has had to rapidly switch to being a remote team. We’re now a fully remote team of 5.

In the first week I struggled working remote as it’s not something I’ve ever done in the past. Despite working from a laptop (docked to a monitor), the most remote I ever get with my work is switching desks in the studio or sitting outside.

Of course I’ve occasionally worked away from our studio, but like James I prefer to be in there with everybody. It still feels a little strange working by myself all day.

At first, I struggled to focus. Primarily because I kept my email and Slack open all day long. There’s an assumption that when you’re not sat next to each other you need to be always available to chat with somebody as soon as they ask.

I think @round puts this better than I could on Twitter:

The problem with being always available is that you never get any quality work done because you’re always waiting to be available and you’re always responding.

It’s a hard balance to strike. Sometimes people need me immediately to answer questions on stuff they’re working on, but a lot of the time they don’t.

So, two of the first things I did were:

  1. Turn off all notifications on my computer, including Slack and email.
  2. When I wanted to do focused work, I turned Do Not Disturb mode on my phone.

I then checked these two things periodically myself, on my own terms instead of being dictated by my notifications. It’s helping me a lot.

I think working remotely has the potential to boost your productivity, but only if you allow it to. If you continue to spend all day in your email and responding to people like I did, it’s hard to focus on getting work done.

Craig Burgess

Craig is Genius Division's creative director. At weekends, he likes to strangle and grapple fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu enthusiasts throughout the country. In his down time, he peruses the internet's finest cat videos.