With Labor Day behind us, summer is unofficially over. Feeling refreshed after the long holiday weekend? Motivated by the first glimpse of fall? Ready to get back into your routine? Now’s the time to put that newfound inspiration into practice—by working in a smarter, more efficient way.
Of course, boosting productivity and enhancing efficiency isn’t easy. And everyone knows it isn’t easy to immediately get back into the swing of things after a long weekend. That’s why CMIT Solutions has compiled eight of our favorite tips to make remote work smoother, day-to-day tasks easier, and big priorities clearer.
The first place most of us start after a long weekend is in our inbox: answering important messages left over from last week, deleting promotional emails that poured in over the holiday, and then trying to sift through what’s left. But even just one passing glance at every email in your inbox can add up to a full hour or more. So after organizing things this time around, consider creating rules and filters that can automatically do it for you in the future. Move messages not sent directly to you to a special folder. Group all promotional emails together. Flag every communication from important contacts within your company. Then, you can prioritize your email bandwidth for the messages that matter.
There are Outlook, Google, Microsoft Teams, and a hundred other calendar platforms out there—for your phone, your laptop, and your good old-fashioned desk. Syncing them all into one calendar that’s accessible across all devices may be difficult, but it’s also important so you can see your updated schedule anytime, anywhere. A trusted IT provider can help you master this crucial task, which serves as the foundation of apps like Microsoft 365.
Whether you like to take notes by hand or write out a daily to-do list that gives you the satisfaction of crossing work off as you finish it, manual work is important to activate certain parts of your brain. Also important? Aligning that manual work with your digital files. You can convert handwritten notes to text using Microsoft’s OneNote app, or you can use your electronic calendar to dictate day-to-day tasks. Like to edit documents with a red pen? Apps like Google Docs can even translate those edits into text that can then be copied and pasted into a Word document.
If you’re like most North American workers, you’re still spending some days working from home. And depending on how many meetings you attend, you might still be searching for the best backdrop for your videoconferences. Find a neutral backdrop like a light-colored wall, possibly flanked by plants or other small personal touches but without too much clutter. Position yourself so that your largest natural light source is in front of you, not behind you or to the side, and consider the amount of light that comes in during different parts of the day. Finally, raise the camera on your laptop or monitor so that it’s level with your eyes to prevent a hunched-over appearance.
Speaking of monitors, most of us are doing all of our work on a single laptop with a small screen… and straining our eyes in the process. In addition, it’s hard to quantify the exact amount of time we spend clicking between different windows and programs, minimizing one thing while searching for another. Needless to say, it adds up—and it can be frustrating. If you have enough space in your home office, consider the benefits of setting up a full-size computer monitor (or two!) that you can plug your laptop into. A trusted IT provider can help with the right connections and cables, which can ultimately ease the wear and tear that long-term computer usage inflicts on your eyes.
If there’s one keyboard shortcut you should know, it’s Ctrl + S for Save. Use this one often to preserve your progress and eliminate the chance you might lose an important file, especially if you’re working on a long document or report. Saving often only takes a second—and as you become more comfortable with the Ctrl + S keyboard shortcut, it will help you more easily learn other timesavers like Ctrl + C (Copy), Ctrl + X (Cut), and Ctrl + V (Paste).
If you’re working from home and need to connect to your company’s protected network to access files and apps, you should be using a virtual private network (VPN). These connections provide an extra layer of security for remote workers, shielding important data from Internet vulnerabilities and cybercriminals. Password-protected Wi-Fi networks are just as important. While we may not be logging on to public Wi-Fi at coffee shops, libraries, and airports that often, we can’t just assume that home networks are automatically safe. Make sure routers are password protected; if you haven’t changed the password since you started using the router, now’s the perfect time to update it. If you are faced with the prospect of signing on to unsecured public Wi-Fi, use the personal hotspot on your cellphone instead.
With millions of workers across North America working on different schedules that balance office work, childcare, and a hundred other variables, it can be easy to get lost in endless scrolling. Limiting the number of notifications you receive on your mobile device can help by reducing the noise coming from social media, news, sports, and other apps. That can make a huge difference in your level of focus—especially when you’re dealing with detail-heavy specifics. Don’t turn off text messages or phone calls, of course. But navigating to your phone’s Settings and adjusting the pop-ups for certain apps will prevent you from getting distracted and help you focus on the task at hand.
Looking for more post-holiday ways to boost the efficiency and productivity of your workday? Need help structuring remote work to be safe and secure? Intrigued by the tips outlined here but don’t know how to put them into action?—we worry about IT so you don’t have to.