I recently posted on LinkedIn to ask my colleagues for advice on how to manage my exploding workload. According to the latest Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition from Total Brain, between November and December there was a 48% increase in the risk of depression—a risk level not seen since this past spring. Further, employees’ focus dropped 62%—a record low since the inception of the research in February 2020. While remote working has its benefits, most of us would argue that we need to make some significant changes for this style of working to be sustainable. Below are a few of the suggestions and ideas from professionals that commented on the post.
- Scheduling meetings for 60 or 30 minutes. Try 15-minute meetings (it will force you to be succinct) or at least switch to 25 minutes so everyone gets a 5-minute break before their next call).
- Accepting meeting invitations without an agenda. When everyone knows up front what the meeting is about, it helps them prepare for the call (or maybe even avoid it altogether).
- Allowing people to schedule meetings outside of the time you are comfortable working. Set boundaries and then clearly communicate them.
- Feeling guilty about doing personal stuff during the work day. Work is no longer an 8 to 5 routine… it is perfectly acceptable to run an errand in the middle of the day.
- Blocking your calendar. Don’t just block it though… assign specific work to do during that time or designate it for dreaming, reading or writing (try Focus Fridays).
- Letting technology help you. Outlook can automatically block “focus time”, batch processing can filter your emails and turn off the automatic email notification that can be a constant distraction.
- Prioritizing meetings you really need to attend. Think D.A.I. (if you are not a decision maker, advisor or someone who needs to be informed, then do not attend)
- Taking regular breaks, including walks. If you are not actively presenting, take the next call while taking a brisk walk around the block.
- To look for ways your teams can work asynchronously. Use collaboration tools that allow people to work independently and on their own time.
- To limit the frequency that you check your email. Reading a notification can cause a 9-minute lapse in getting back on track with the task you were doing beforehand.
- To be present during calls. Avoid constantly checking emails, chats and texts and give your full attention to the person on the other side of the screen.
- For work-life integration versus work-life balance. When we work, where we work and who we work with is fluid. Embrace the new normal and make it work for your unique circumstances.