It has been three months since our normal way of working was disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown. For some, it was easier to adapt to remote working, and for others, it has been harder. Yet, as time has gone on we have developed new ways of working, overcome challenges and continued to move forward under different and difficult conditions. However, one theme keeps emerging in coaching conversations and that is the continuous challenge of achieving FLOW while remote working during this time.
FLOW is the state you find yourself in when you can concentrate and move along at a steady constant pace. Not only that, but it is also the time you achieve peak productivity and what you do, you do well whilst enjoying the process.
I will be one of the first to admit my biggest frustration over the past few months has been barriers to getting my head down and getting into FLOW when I have needed to. Until I took action and recognised it was leaving me underperforming and exhausted, I was trying to squeeze the big tasks that needed quality time and attention into multiples of 15 or 30 min blocks. This was never enough time to get into FLOW. These were small bursts of time when I found myself between clients, homeschooling and managing home /life activities. Then even if I did find larger periods of time the struggle was how to tackle constant interruptions by someone or something.
Before Covid, my normal working life was part remote-working. However, where we find ourselves today is not remote working like before. There are so many more interruptions, broken routines and people who need attention. Pressures, expectations and the overall mood is different. All this is making achieving FLOW so much harder than ever before.
If this resonates here are a few tips that can help you navigate remote working and achieve FLOW more often than not. They will help you end each day feeling more energised and satisfied and less exhausted and frustrated.
Allocate Power Hours
Each day you will find a period of time where interruption is less likely. Mine is 6.00 am until 7.30 am. This time I class as my power hours. They are the times when if I have a big thinking or writing task to do, this is when I should tackle it If I want any chance of achieving FLOW. I’m a morning person so it works for me, you may have a different period of day which works for you. Take time to audit your day and spot where you have the most opportunity to get focused without interruptions and when you are at your best.
Use your diary and schedule everything
Using your diary to schedule meetings is common placed. The more you put in your calender the more control and accountable of your time you will be. To achieve more chances of bigger time periods to enable, FLOW you should schedule everything. So don’t just stop at work. Schedule meals, zoom catch up with friends, homeschooling, exercise, shopping, tv time …….. everything! It may at first feel over the top but with everything mapped out, it is easier to move things around and talk to others about the space and focus you need.
It is always good to talk and share your challenges. Both to those around you at home and those in your team. Simply sharing your diary with your team puts you back in control of your time. Agree times specifically when you will welcome interruptions and ad-hoc requests. At home, share your needs and desires. Agree on ways to share responsibilities and seek to carve out the right amount of time in advance so you can achieve FLOW when you need it.
Right now turn off all notifications related to email, WhatsApp, messenger and social media. Set times to check those and avoid the unnecessary interruptions when you are just settling into FLOW. Create a clear and tidy working space. It is true a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind. Make yourself comfortable. Avoid being cramped, dark spaces or spreading out on a sofa or bed if you need to concentrate. Put your phone on silent or better still, leave it in another room.
Plan your work
With a plan, you will have clarity and with clarity you can achieve FLOW much easier. When you have a plan even short bursts of time can enjoy FLOW moments. You will be more productive and efficient knowing what you need to do and can get straight to it.
Manage anxieties and inner chatter
As we work remotely many people may feel anxious. They worry about what is going on without them and outside of their direct view. A lack of social contact and an inability of watching what others are up to can leave someone feeling isolated. It can lead to the creation of negative stories in a persons head. This inner chatter and anxiety can lead to distractions that stop you from getting into FLOW when you want to. If you are a leader, be pro-active and offer scheduled catch up and check-ins. Use this time to boost your confidence by knowing everyone is doing what they should be doing and that they have all they need from you and others. If you are part of a team why not reach out ask for more group get-togethers. Eliminate anxieties and inner chatter and you’ll be able to settle into FLOW much easier.
FLOW is easier when we are feeling energised and able to concentrate. Being on the go and juggling between so many tasks at work and home is exhausting. Remote working has taken away forced breaks like a commute or the need to go to the shop for lunch. (Yes, who else misses the commute for that downtime!). Schedule breaks and motivate yourself to take them. When you return even from a 20-minute break you will feel refreshed and your brain health will have improved. The longer the break of course the better!
So, make sure you create boundaries of start and end of the working day and get a good night’s sleep. You know that when you feel refreshed you have more energy and it is easier to focus. Remind yourself of this the next time you find yourself thinking about just keeping on going from task to task.
It looks like remote working is going to be the new normal for lots of us for quite a while. Leading yourself more effectively to achieve the goal of FLOW with a focused approach will help you achieve more each day. It will help you work to your best ability and maintain your positive wellbeing and satisfaction in your work.
Need support in finding your best version of yourself as a leader or in your role? Thinking of changing career or wondering how you can get to the next level? Why not book a FREE DISCOVERY CALL to see how I can help you.