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  • Kevin Lindon Ryan

How to Be More Productive and Efficient While Teleworking During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As COVID-19 spread in Washington, D.C. my work-life changed forever. In health communications, I consult a client at its headquarters, an hour commute for me by metro and shuttle, my body less than six feet from sweaty, sullen strangers. I was an ad for coronavirus infection.

On the metro, I could feel a man’s breath on my shoulder. My chin itched from a more-than-five-o-clock-shadow. I couldn't stop touching my face. Yes, I’m someone who develops health communications for a living. That includes crafting content about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet all I could think about was teleworking, my higher risk parents, and the new normal.

My Organizing Strategies

Are Failing Me, Now What?

You may have seen my organizing tips featured in The Washington Post or other publications, but first teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic turned my world upside down. I felt like a first-year preschool teacher managing a room full of 30 students all coming down from simple sugar highs. It challenged me and required hard, strong skills and discipline.

However, it forced me to become more productive, efficient, and organized than ever, even compared to my organization skills during health care Annual Enrollment Period, when I updated 75 major annual communications ahead of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deadlines, or else resulting in major fines.

So, how can you maximize your time and accomplish a large number of tasks more efficiently? Read my tips below for strategies and tactics that work for me, which I'll practice beyond this pandemic. I hope you will too. We're all in this together.

10 Ways to Become More Productive, Strategic, & Boost Your Focus

  1. Create a daily list of completed action items, alongside your to-do list. I keep my notebook open, record the date at the top of each page, and track completed action items on the right page, and my to-do list on the left. It helps me focus and prioritize.

  2. Send your boss a daily report of today's accomplished tasks. Write this report as if you were writing a resume. Quantify as much as you can. Use bullet-points. Organize as an inverted pyramid: rank in order of importance— with heavy lifts listed first, and regular, consistent activities after.

  3. Keep your phone on vibrate or ring. Ask your boss, clients, and coworkers to call or text if they need anything.

  4. Respond to emails, like, instantly, if you can. Your clients and colleagues may appreciate your responsiveness, even if you feel like a robot for responding so quickly.

  5. Track projects on a spreadsheet or document. Provide as much detail as necessary. Keep your boss, clients, and team members up-to-date on status updates and progress.

  6. Share successes, and celebrate victories. If a client provides positive feedback, you hear praise about a fellow team member, or you see good results of hard work. . . Let your boss know. It may be valuable and encouraging.

  7. If you have data, use it. If you have access to analytics tools, it may be easier for you to quantify results and show your productivity.

  8. Save praise. Keep "thank you" emails from your clients or colleagues about your high-quality work and contributions. Store this praise for a rainy day or your performance review.

  9. Think beyond your assigned tasks. If you have ideas or suggestions for projects or process improvements, don’t be shy. Share your ideas and the reasoning.

  10. Set an example for yourself. Show your boss, clients, team, and leadership that you're doing great work even when teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Impress and amaze!

Remember, we're in this together. Reach out if you have questions or need help! #COVID19