MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Tips from the GSBS on how to maintain productivity while working remotely

March 25, 2020
GSBS Office of Diversity, Career Development, Alumni Affairs

Daily life has changed for all of us as faculty, students and staff, in a short period of time. The GSBS has provided ideas for you as students to help you maintain productivity while working remotely. These may also be helpful to faculty and staff.

 

 Acknowledge and accept that there will be an adjustment period

  • Acknowledge that things have changed quickly
  • Accept that working productively from home will take intentional action and trial and error.
  • Acknowledge your circumstances may be unique compared to your colleagues (e.g. live in family, single parenting)
  • Accept that productivity may be at a different level than in the lab (or office)

Prepare your work space

  • Create a dedicated work space where you feel motivated and comfortable
  • Let in natural light where possible
  • Eliminate as many distractions as possible (turn off the TV and phone/e-notifications)
  • Dress for success – wear comfortable casual clothes but reconsider those pajamas and bathrobes

Find a schedule that works for you

  • Stick to your usual schedule, if that works
  • If your usual schedule is not feasible due to enhanced family presence, experiment with different times
  • Consider working in time blocks when the household is quieter

Cluster tasks or work in short sprints

  • If you’re easily distracted and have difficulty focusing, try clustering your tasks
  • Break down large tasks into smaller pieces and set deadlines to complete each cluster
  • Work sprints – work on a task for 25 solid minutes (no distractions) then take a small break, then continue this cycle several times to power through procrastination and big projects

Enhance your accountability

  • Go the extra mile to let your PI/advisor know that you are working on specific projects (e.g. regular check-ins)
  • Keep a log of your activities that includes the things you’re able to accomplish and things that are on hold because of remote work
  • Plan the work you will continue once you re-enter the lab
  • Find a virtual productivity partner. Someone to cheer you on and with whom you can create tasks lists virtually (use shared drives or Webex)

Devote time to fostering relationships

  • Build into your schedule virtual “coffee chats”
  • Catch up with a colleague or potential employer over a quick break
  • Pick up the phone and call your lab mate or PI/advisor to ask questions vs an email/text

Take care of your mental and physical health (See additional tips from UTHealth here.)

  • Eat lunch away from your work area
  • Go for a walk or jog outside (keeping social distancing in mind)
  • Take a workout class online. Meditate or do yoga. Read a book or work on a puzzle.
  • Maintain proper nutrition and hydration
  • Be aware of good sleep hygiene – try not to fall asleep with electronics, keep your work and sleep space separate, keep a regular sleep schedule.

 It is not business as usual. Adjusting to working from home will be a process. We at the GSBS are here to support you during this time, and encourage you to reach out for assistance and advice.

 

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