Working remotely can be challenging at times, especially during a pandemic when many workspace options have limited seating or closed lobbies. Having fewer options makes managing our working environment even harder. Coffee shops often have the strongest internet access, but managing noise can be next to impossible. And if we’re working at home with small kids doing their schoolwork, it can be tough getting them to understand the importance of interruptions.
Having a template for dealing with the challenges of remote work is key. By identifying the primary challenges of your work environment, you can create a pre-defined set of actions to take when these challenges arise. These actions can be called heuristics, and the issues can be called cues.
To start taking this “cues and heuristics” approach, it helps to start by writing down some common issues that keep you from getting into a good flow state at work. Is it noise? Distractions? Lighting for video calls? Then come up with a few different options to test the next time the problem (cue) arises.
It could be something as simple as “When I go to work at the coffee shop that’s often noisy (cue), always bring my big noise-canceling headphones instead of my AirPods.” (heuristic) Other examples could be remembering to bring a laptop stand so your wrists don’t get fatigued from typing or always setting a countdown timer before video calls so your kids can easily see when they’re all-clear to ask for help.
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