Productivity levels may be wavering in a lockdown, and
that’s normal. Some days a boost of energy could get you through your to-do list
in record time. Other days, focusing on the project at hand may be a daunting
task. The remote work setup is not an ideal situation to be in when
deliverables are due, distractions aplenty, and the internet keeps taking a
break. BDD virtually sat down with a productivity guru, Ali Khalil (AK) to
discuss productivity challenges, hacks and what managers can do to get the best
out of their teams.
BDD: As a productivity enthusiast, what tips do you have for
professionals to be more productive during lockdowns?
AK: Lockdowns may be opportunities to slow down the pace,
reflect and meditate on how to better move forward. Being productive does not
mean being ‘busy’.
Brendon Burchard, a world renowned High-Performance coach
puts it. He advises professionals to:
- Increase the outputs that matter. Determine the outputs that
matter the most to your field or industry, then focus there while saying no to
almost everything else.
- Chart your five moves. What are the next five major moves to
make your goal happen? Written them up, break them down into projects and
deliverables, add them to your calendar.
- Get insanely good at key skills. Figure out what are the
five important skills you need to develop over the next three years to grow
into the person you hope to become. Then start developing those skills.
It may not be as simple as that, but why not try it out.
BDD: We often hear professionals are having difficulty
focusing and delivering up to certain standard. What are the core productivity
challenges that people face when working remotely?
AK: Although studies have shown that while people are more
productive when they work remotely, they are actually prone to working longer
hours, with an intense stressful workload while trying to balance work and home
interruptions. Here are some of the challenges that people face when working
- Bad Health Habits. Are you eating too much? Or maybe
forgetting to eat at all! Be more mindful about these important habits.
- Procrastination. “I have too much work to do. Let me have my
breakfast and maybe watch one, two, or maybe three episodes of my favorite
series. Yep, it is lunchtime now. I need to rest. Oops, the day is gone!” How
many times have we thought or heard these words?
- Overwork. When you’re working from ‘home’, you tend to
forget to take any breaks, and it gets harder to switch between work and home,
- Miscommunication. If we’re not intentional about the way we
communicate with our team members, we would fall into the trap of
misunderstanding each other which in turn would evolve into tension.
- Interruptions. Parents, spouses, kids, phone calls might be
continuous interruptions that get you out of focus.
- Isolation. If you’re living alone, then you might actually
be wishing for that bit of human interaction instead of just virtually
connecting with people.
- Technology. Between electricity outages, internet hiccups,
slow laptops, and maybe a broken chair we end up getting frustrated and less
BDD: With these challenges, what tools do you recommend for
professionals to manage their productivity and efficiency levels?
AK: Productivity is not about the tools you use, but the
workflows you embrace. So, let’s categorize some of the systems that may allow
you to be more productive.
Zoom has become like everyone’s daily bread. It’s a popular
cloud-based service that offers online webinars and meetings. The best thing
about Zoom’s free version is its 40-mins limitation. I challenge you to keep
your meetings down to 40 mins, you will be so happy!
Slack allows you and your team to have one-on-one chats,
chat groups, audio, and video calls.
IFTT: An acronym for “if this, then that” is an app that
allows you to connect online services, tools, and devices to get them to do
specific things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.
Zapier is similar to IFTT but it is more focused on
connecting 1000+ business apps to help you improve your productivity. For
example, after you finish a zoom call, you can save the recording to Dropbox,
and then Zapier would take the public link, and email it to your team all while
you are sipping your coffee, tea or water! Zapier saves me around 10 to 15 hours a week.
Journaling is a hard habit to maintain. I’ve personally
tried many apps and systems until I landed on Brendon Burchard’s
High-Performance Habits. So, I digitized the concept. Feel free to try it out.
Please remember that there are plenty of tools on the
market. What works for me does not necessarily mean that it would work for you.
I recommend that you figure out your workflow, then test few tools to help you
achieve your goals.
BDD: Business owners and managers have a big role to play
when managing their teams remotely. What advice can you give them?
AK: There is a wealth of information on the web advising
managers on how best to lead their teams remotely. Here are few simple tips
from Kathy Gurchiek that might help you.
- Set expectations early and often.
- Adapt the length of your meetings.
- Track the progress consistently.
- Be available to your team.
- Resist the temptation to micromanage.
BDD: Due to the business disruptions that Lebanon and the
world are facing, what can companies do to keep their operational productivity
up to a certain standard?
AK: During and after these disruptions, companies need to
focus on restoring employees’ emotions and trust in order to keep their
operational productivity up to a certain level.
Nowadays, there is an overwhelming fear about health, safety
and job sustainability which keeps adding anxiety for business owners and their
Here are few tips to help companies and up their
- Socialize. Figure out a way to keep your workplace “social”
regardless of social distancing
- Strategize. Build a business continuity plan and share it
with your team.
- Support. Focus on employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing.
For more support and information, join the Email
Productivity Tips Series, delivered by Ali, by signing up here.
About Ali Khalil
Ali Khalil is an experienced global strategist, remote
worker, and productivity geek. Driven by his love to see people succeed, he
takes pride in providing great support to organizations and individuals alike.
As a global project manager, he takes his time to build efficient remote teams
with productive workflows.
by Beirut Digital District
This content was originally published here.