How to Succeed in a Remote Work Setting

The Key To Remote Work is Organizing For Success. In this article, we are going to be breaking down chapter four of Madhan Kanagavel’s book, “Get Remote Work Done.” In his book, he lists five steps on organizing for success and inevitably succeeds in working remotely.

Prioritize Tasks in Sets of Three

According to Kanagavel, “ one of the hardest things to do is to figure out the things you need to work on every day.” Whether you are working from home or in an office, prioritizing your tasks is difficult. 

It is difficult to prioritize tasks because we often prioritize everything or nothing, leaving us stuck with a mountain of work and no motivation. The best way to prioritize your duties is to listen to Mark Twain. Mark Twain once said, “eat a live frog in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”

Now, we don’t recommend eating a live frog. What Mark Twain is trying to convey is that if you do the most challenging thing first, everything else will appear effortless. When prioritizing your list for the day, take on the first most time consuming/important task. That way, when you are done, all you have left are two easy tasks. 

Most people tend to accomplish more with fewer tasks. Further, people tend to perform better when they organize their tasks by level of importance and in three’s. Additionally, prioritizing your top three tasks will improve your focus.

Zero Inbox

With the rise in remote work, the majority of our communication comes from email. However, email saps productivity. According to a 2019 study by Adobe, titled, “Adobe Email Usage Study,” most employees spend up to three hours every day managing their emails. 

Suppose workers checked their emails three hours every day. That is 15 hours a week wasted. On a monthly scale, that would be a total of 60 hours spent checking emails. On a yearly scale, that is 720 hours completely wasted. That means 720 hours of lost time and time equals money in business. 

According to Kanagavel and Merlin Mann, the best way to regain control of your inbox is to implement the Zero Inbox method. “Zero Inbox is about keeping your inbox clear or almost empty so that you clearly know what actions if any are needed by quickly glancing at your inbox,” (Kanagavel, 2020).

The most effective way to approach Zero Inbox is to create multiple inboxes. According to Kanagavel, you should have three different inboxes: 

  1. Regular Inbox
  2. To Read Inbox
  3. Actions Inbox

Your regular inbox is where all your new email comes in. The to-read inbox should be for emails that can be read at your leisure. Finally, your actions inbox is where the highest priority emails that require an action from you go. 

Organizing your inbox will eliminate the time spent sorting out which emails are important and which aren’t. For a total email nirvana experience, organize your inbox. 

Write Everything Down

“NEVER TRUST YOUR MEMORY,” (Kanagavel, 2020). As you have heard in school, most people remember things better when they write them down. While the school adage is true, most people work better with digital tools.

Whether it is handwriting your notes, tasks, and reminders, or inputting them digitally, pick the system, you can trust yourself to use every day. Having a sort of task tracking system in place will ensure relief, organization, and feeling accomplished. 

However, one thing to note is that “a long list is a dead list,” (Kanagavel, 2020). While it is great to have a list of things that need to be accomplished, you will not maximize your workflow if your list is incredibly long. Keep your list short and sweet. 

Reduce Interruptions

Reducing interruptions should be self-explanatory, but do you know why reducing interruptions is a useful method for getting remote work done? According to Kanagavel, “ every time you are interrupted by your phone, a co-worker, or the door, you are switching from a deep zone of focus to something trivial.” 

When you switch from being in the zone to something trivial, it can be hard to get back in that zone. To maximize your productivity while working from home, minimize the distractions that do not help you work. 

Separate Chunks of Work

At the beginning of the post, we talked about the importance of prioritizing your tasks from most important to least important in sets of three’s. Now, we are going to discuss the importance of separating each group of tasks throughout the day.

For instance, the three tasks you need to complete today should be placed at the beginning of your day. Doing so will prevent you from feeling drained. Instead, it might make you feel excited since you have taken care of the most important tasks first.

If you have calls and meetings to attend, place this in the middle of the day. Since you finished your tasks in the morning, you will most likely be feeling a surge of productivity and excitement. Use that excitement and productivity zone towards your calls and meetings.

Finally, when the end of the day has arrived, conduct a closing on the day’s work. This could be pre-listing your tomorrow’s tasks or reading and sending off any final emails. Whatever you like to do at the day’s end, please do it.

Now, you don’t have to follow this particular curriculum. If you find it easier for you to take calls and meetings in the morning and doing your three tasks in the afternoon, do that instead. To succeed in a remote work environment, you should set your tasks in organized time frames.  

Get Remote Work Done Like a Champ

There are many ways to succeed in remote work. In this blog, we covered chapter four of Madhan Kanagavel’s book, “Get Remote Work Done.” To take back your productive day in a remote work environment, consider doing the following: 

  1. Prioritize Your Tasks 
  2. Clean and Organize your Inbox
  3. Write Everything Down
  4. Minimize Distractions
  5. Separate Your Work Into Time Frames

To download a free version of Madhan’s book, visit AirSend