Working five days a week really gets you into an established rhythm. The habits you develop and the atmosphere you’re used to really streamline your productivity each day. So what happens when you’re confronted by new surroundings and are expected to maintain the same level of productivity?
Don’t let change rob you of your productivity. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to ensure that you can get your job done no matter where you are or how much your workspace has changed recently:
Establish a Work Zone
Pick a spot in your new environment to designate as a work zone. For example, if you’re working from a hotel room, this could be the desk that they provide for you, a table, or the business center near the lobby. Your mind will begin to associate these specific locations as a place of productivity. Pick one and stick with it.
If you’re constantly moving around, you’ll have to readjust to new surroundings every single time. When your setup is comfortable and familiar, it’s easier to focus. That’s part of why students always sit in the same seats every class period. The consistency makes it easier to focus on learning.
If you don’t have a good workstation, try and make one. You might have had the new surrounding strangeness occur at home when trying remote work for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe you have moved to a new home. Whatever the situation, any change in routine can cause slight delays in productivity and stop you from getting in the zone.
Setting up ways that your alterations to a home office or a temporary workspace will be standard each time you are there can work wonders for your focus and productivity.
Limit Your Distractions
Did you know it takes nearly 30 minutes to refocus after a distraction? If you let multiple distractions get the best of you, there won’t be much work getting done. Factor in your new surroundings, and you’ll be experiencing more distractions than usual.
Start by attempting to identify any distractions that are bothering you. Some are obvious, like trying to get some work done at a resort while sitting poolside. Others are more subtle, like the light from the hotel window might cast just enough of a glare on your computer for you to have a hard time focusing.
Once you’ve pinpointed what’s distracting you, do what it takes to remove it. For example, walk away from a distracting atmosphere, stick on headphones or change the layout to accommodate. Many distractions come from online — so look at apps that can help you monitor and restrict unnecessary social media usage.
Work Off a To-Do List
When you sit down in an unfamiliar setting, it can hard to figure out where to start. You may end up spending so much time trying to acclimate yourself that you fall behind on important projects. To stop yourself from freezing like a deer in headlights, work off of a to-do list.
Start by listing off every task you want to tackle each day. Then, organize your daily list by priority. Now you can visualize the order in which to approach your day and focus on that task list instead of the change of scenery.
If it helps, you can assign each task in your to-do list a time in your online calendar as well to keep your productivity in motion. This practice is called timeboxing or time blocking. Each box or block of time contains a task, and during that time, you focus solely on said task until you move on to the next section of time.
Follow Good Habits
Even though your surroundings have changed, your habits can remain the same. For example, many people have productivity habits they rely on to perform at a high level every day. There’s no need to change these up even when your atmosphere is different.
Morning routines are perfect examples of habits you can maintain even if you’ve changed offices or are on a business trip. Try to wake up while you always do and include your normal activities such as breakfast and exercise. Your brain won’t freak out as much with other changes when habits such as this are maintained.
Any work habits you also have will come in handy during this time. If you always take breaks simultaneously and have gotten used to that schedule, stay as true to form as possible. Your online calendar can help you maintain habits like this, even with any potential time zone changes.
There are some things about a new environment that you can’t change. In fact, many of them might not be that bad after all. Learn to embrace the good changes and leverage them to your advantage.
Let’s return to the hotel scenario. Perhaps the wallpaper isn’t your thing, but having a coffee maker in your suite and a beautiful view should certainly make up for it. In addition, room service can provide a seamless and delicious lunch experience without having to detract too much from your day.
Now, how about a new office? Maybe feeling alone because you don’t know your coworkers is bringing you down and hurting your productivity. Instead, focus your attention on some of the good changes, like an enhanced benefits package or the fact that you now have your own office. With these in mind, you can push past the growing pains and keep productivity running freely.
Not everyone handles change well. Don’t let it get in the way of you accomplishing everything you set out to do. With some time management techniques and some resilience, you’ll be able to remain productive no matter where you are.
By Howie Jones