How to Work Remotely and Still Get Things Done
How to Work Remotely and Still Get Things Done

How to Work Remotely and Still Get Things Done

03/19/2020 by Erin Ramirez
Make the most of your time WFH with the secrets of GTD.

Aside from the occasional day here or there, sometimes circumstances are such that we’re required to work from home for an extended period of time. If your organization uses Salesforce, you’re already set up for success since Salesforce is cloud-based.

You’ll be able to work from anywhere as long as you can connect to the Internet. But your routine will feel very different and you may find it challenging, at least at first, to still be productive. 

Arkus has been a remote company since we were founded in 2010. We’ve worked with 465+ clients and have delivered over 1,275+ projects successfully...all remotely. Our team receives a lot of training and support to learn how to get things done from a home office.

To learn more about our commitment to practicing David Allen’s Getting Things Done©️ methodology, we have numerous resources available on our blog and podcast. Simply search for the keyword “GTD”.  Here are some suggestions based on my experience and standard Arkus procedures.

Your Personal Routine

Most of us at Arkus work from a dedicated home office. We've found it helps to establish a basic routine. We each have different habits outside of work, but here are my suggestions for establishing a new WFH routine or checking in to improve your current system:

1. Wake up at the same time you would as on a normal workday.

2. Shower, eat breakfast, and do all the normal morning things.

3. Get dressed and wear real shoes. You can be comfy, but don’t wear PJs and slippers.

4. Set a timer or use an app to remind you to stand up and look away from the screen regularly. I use an iOS app called Stand Alarm.

5. Step away from your laptop and eat a real lunch.

6. Get fresh air a couple of times a day. Walk the dog. Get the mail. Anything to get out of a stuffy house. Open a window weather-permitting. 

7. Stop work at the normal time. It’s way too easy to lose track of time when you work from home. Set an alarm if you need to. You don’t want to get burned out.

8. When work is done, put away your laptop. See number 7.

9. If you have a lot of “extra” time because you’re not commuting, use that time for chores (boring but necessary) or something fun like making pancakes for breakfast!

Maybe this isn’t your style. You should do what works for you and your job responsibilities. For a different point of view, check out Arkus Project Manager Haley Tuller’s “A Day in the Life of a Salesforce Consultant” blog post for VetForce.

Getting Things Done

When you are at your desk and working, it should be business as usual. If you need help focusing, take time at the beginning of the day to plan your tasks or projects for that day. At Arkus, we’re devoted to the practice of GTD. You may or may not yet be familiar with the Getting Things Done methodology developed by David Allen. 

The foundational principles of GTD are often referred to by the acronym C-CORE: Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect, Engage. Read more on these fundamentals on the GTD site. At the most basic level, we suggest you capture what's on your mind and on your plate and make a checklist of your commitments. Then block time on your calendar or use your preferred app (it's no secret ours is OmniFocus) to keep track and check off these items. 

Here are more suggestions for things to do to stay productive when you change your routine to work from home: 

- Keep your communication standards high. Update your personal voicemail message to let them know you’re WFH and checking messages regularly. Update your organization’s main voicemail message if most or all of your staff are working remotely.

-  Set up an email auto-response if needed. Trying to WFH and supervise kids? Perhaps a simple message stating that you’ll be slower to respond to email.

- Take breaks. It may sound counterintuitive, but you’ll be more productive if you take occasional breaks. Stand up, stretch, and look away from your screen. See item 4 above.

- Break your work into smaller bites by determining your next action. “Create a report for the marketing director” isn’t a’s a project. What’s the first step in that project? Do you need to set up a call to go over requirements with the marketing director? If so, your next action is to compare calendars for availability followed by suggesting a call time. 

- Expect a different kind of interruption. In the office, interruptions consist of the phone ringing or coworkers stopping by. Because you work at work, you’re used to them and they don’t derail your productivity. At home, the distractions will be completely different. A significant other or a kid might interrupt. Deliveries will arrive. Dogs will bark. The dryer buzzes. 

-Salesforce has publicly available Trailmix containing modules discussing mindfulness, the value of sleep, the power of movement, and more to help you change your mindset when you transition to WFH.

Physical Distance vs. Social Connection

Though sometimes it’s necessary to keep a physical distance from other people, either because you need to keep yourself healthy or keep those in your office healthy, we still need to keep our social interactions.

If water cooler conversation is unavailable and leaning over the cubicle wall to ask a question is not an option, take advantage of Chatter by setting up a Social Chatter Group along with Chatter Groups for different teams such as Development, Marketing, etc. Salesforce is also offering its collaboration tool Quip for free until September 30, 2020.

Or make use of a system such as Slack, which has a free version. Read more about how to turbocharge your use of Slack in this post from Justin EdelsteinWhen you absolutely need to have a call, consider using a tool like GoToMeeting or Zoom. Both have free versions, with limitations, of course.

Working from home can require a significant mental shift, especially when required by extraordinary circumstances. It can be especially challenging for nonprofit teams who haven’t encountered or had to plan for a situation where the staff needs to for an extended period of time. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to make times like these a bit easier so things can be as close to business as usual as possible.

Are you working from home (WFH) for the first time? Want to share your WFH success stories or ask for ask advice? Let me know in the Salesforce Trailblazer Community or chat with me @emradem.