Shorter days, cloudy skies, gloomy weather – the fall season doesn’t give us much incentive to be productive, especially working from home where the comfy couch and a cozy blanket tempt you to binge-watch a series. How can you motivate yourself to steer away from the sofa and towards your home office? The Oakywood team has plenty of experience in the area and we want to share our tips with you.
Remote work in the fall according to the Oakywood team
Task assignment and communication
Asana is our primary tool for work organization: it allows us to log our assignments, set deadlines, manage our projects and marketing calendar all in one place. One of the standout features of this app is being able to add attachments and comments to each task which lets us gather all communication and essential files concerning a particular project under one post. You can also choose the priority and task dependencies attachment to instantly see your most pressing tasks to easier organize your workday. Bigger, more time-consuming assignments can sometimes seem like an insurmountable obstacle. By breaking them down into smaller sub-tasks, you can make them more approachable and ensure you remember all the details.
I’m #teamAsana all the way :D. I usually log all my tasks unless I know something won’t take more than 5 minutes – then I do it straight away. Tasks from emails and meetings get put into Asana, which, together with my to-do list and Google calendar, helps me plan the week ahead every Friday.
Although we don’t use it as intensely as Asana, Notion stores our general information such as work organization, company’s mission and goals, strategies, and processes, as well as files regarding employee benefits, onboarding, vacation days, etc. Notion also helps us pool content ideas and references which we use to write blog posts.
We use Slack as an organizational but also teambuilding tool. Apart from discussions on certain projects and tasks, it is a space where we can chat more freely, recommend vacation or workation destinations, share interesting articles, and geek out on tech-world news. Despite living and working remotely hundreds of kilometers away from each other, we are constantly connected which helps build a strong team and positively impacts our work.
4. Google Meet
Written communication is not always enough – it is important to see your colleagues’ faces from time to time, even virtually through a webcam. Google Meet is a great, but not only tool, to hold online meetings – Zoom or Teams work equally as well. Regular face-to-face calls make it easier for us to discuss abstract topics and long-term strategies, help us get to know each other, and remind us that we work with fellow living human beings and not avatars and email addresses.
5. Other tools
Apart from the above-mentioned apps used by the whole team, some members utilize other nifty tools such as time trackers which help monitor and analyze our work schedule and let us plan the day or week with ease.
Finding a time-tracker that suits you best, for example, one synchronized with your browser, is a brilliant tool for freelancers who frequently switch between clients and tasks. Turning the tracker on saves time and helps increase productivity – it makes reporting easier and allows you to analyze the way you spend your workday, where time gets wasted (time-trackers connected to the browser do that automatically), and which tasks require more time. For me, a good time-tracker is also a work organizer. I have used a lot of such tools and I find Timecamp to be the most effective.
Another way we stay productive is by using quick note taking tools so that no thought or idea gets lost amongst the multitude of assignments and meetings.
I use two apps: the standard Apple Notes app and Minimal, a totally simplified text editor. The Notes app serves as a never-ending page I use when I’m working on my tablet using the Apple Pencil. It synchronizes across my devices so it’s always at hand. I don’t use Minimal to write books but to create very chaotic to-do lists. I jot down notes during meetings and from that stream of consciousness, I extract tasks and their descriptions. The list is then pinned at the top of the page, and I can see it every time I open Minimal which helps me stay on track.
1. Creating to-do lists
The most straightforward solutions are often the most effective which is why making to-do lists is our favorite work organization method. The process itself provides a huge boost of motivation and helps in hitting the ground running. It allows you to think through the order of your tasks from the get-go, helps identify the most urgent ones, and figure out which tasks are the most time consuming and which you can tackle straight away.
I’m not reinventing the wheel by saying that, for me, daily to-do lists have been super effective for years. I like analogue notes most – a simple notepad is unbeatable, but I also often use digital tools that let me transfer tasks straight to Asana, even during calls. Fridays at Oakywood have scheduled time for planning the week ahead which helps me think about my assignments and carefully create said lists ☺.
Nothing groundbreaking from me. I perform my tasks promptly and after dealing with the most urgent points, I work with a to-do list in Asana. I try to set realistic deadlines and stick to them. Our special organizational time every Friday is very helpful too ☺.
2. Personal approach
Working remotely makes you avoid adapting to the specific rhythm of the office. You can organize your work however you please, taking into account your own preferences and conditions. Take advantage! Reflect on when during the day your mind is most productive – early in the morning, before noon, or maybe in the evening – and plan your tasks accordingly.
In my opinion, the best apps, tools, and programs don’t work unless you work out how to plan your workdays or weeks. Everyone deals with a different set of tasks, and everyone works differently. For some, the ‘eat the frog’ method is the most suitable, while others need to warm up by accomplishing smaller tasks first. I prefer to use fewer tools – this means I don’t switch between them and don’t waste time to ‘work about work’. Instead, I focus on planning my workload in a way that allows me to be the most effective without overworking myself, and to know when I need a break and when I can push myself some more.
Sometimes, instead of scrupulously sticking to the plan, it’s best to work intuitively and do what feels most appropriate for you at any given moment. It’s important to take breaks regularly, however, sometimes it’s better to stick to finishing a task or at least a sub-task before taking a longer, pressure-free break. Working out the best way to organize your assignments and picking the most useful tools for your tasks allows you to stay motivated and keep your productivity levels high. This will, hopefully, free up enough time for you to enjoy a leisurely walk before the sun sets on another short fall day – remember to take care of your work-life balance at any time of year.