As the Coronavirus continues to spread, the majority of working professionals have switched from working at the office to working from home. For many, this is their first time working from home—and it’s a learning process. It’s likely many SSD attorneys and representatives have spent the majority of their career in the office, meeting clients face-to-face. Now, that’s not an option.
Personally, I’ve worked remotely on some level for the past 12 years. I’ve spent the last 2 years working remotely on a full-time basis. Let me say, it takes an adjustment in habits, routines, and mindset. I’ve learned a lot over the years, so here are a few tips for SSD representatives on how to work remotely (either temporarily or on a permanent basis) and stay productive in the process.
Create a Self-Care Routine
Why it’s important: Providing yourself with a daily self-care routine may sound trivial at a time like this, but in fact it’s even more important now. A self-care routine is essential to avoiding burn out, maintaining your sanity while being quarantined, and staying productive each day. Why? Because working and staring at a screen all day with minimal contact with others is not a healthy lifestyle, even if it’s only temporary. It will lead to a slower and inefficient work pace and cause burn out if elongated.
How to create it: Start your day with light stretching and exercise to get your blood flowing and your brain working. Eat a healthy, filling breakfast. (I always include a hot cup of tea!) Exercise and eating right are two important and relatively easy ways to take good care of yourself, preparing you to jump into work. It also means you won’t need to drop work to take care of yourself later, when your needs have increased due to lack of care.
Continue checking in on yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically throughout the day. Are you sitting for long hours? Take a break to stretch and walk around the house. Are you drinking enough water? Remind yourself to give your eyes rest every ten minutes or so by simply looking at something from a distance for 30 seconds. Take breaks, talk with a friend, check your email, and review the status of your work. Then jump right back into the task at hand.
Use Timers to Stay on Track
Why it’s important: Now that you’re working from home, there are a lot more distractions tempting you away from work. Family, social media, the TV, your phone, etc. are distractions that will slow your productivity; it’s easy for a five-minute break turn into an hour-long break before realizing it. Timers are a great way to set your focus on one thing, including breaks, for a specified amount of time, decreasing the temptation to get distracted. When you’ve set the timer to work for two hours and know the next timer is for checking email, you won’t be tempted to open your inbox until it’s time.
How to use them: Determine the amount of time you want to dedicate to a specific task, then set a timer using your phone, the internet, or even your stove’s clock. Remind yourself, when that timer is set, your focus is on that one task; anything else can be addressed later. Personally, I work in two-hour intervals. Others use the Pomodoro method, which incorporates short periods of working with small breaks.
Find what works for you—if you aren’t sticking to it, decrease the timer. Intentionally set your mind on sticking to it. If necessary, use an accountability partner who may also be struggling; check in on one another through a virtual meeting at a specified time in the day to review how it’s been going.
Use Technology for Security and Access
Why it’s important: Most SSD representative are handling files and information that are confidential. Working from home means ensuring these are protected and secured—and accessible to the right people, including yourself. Investing in technology allows you to work anywhere in the world so you can produce quality work with minimal disruption.
Choose what works for you: With cloud-based technology like Dropbox or Carbonite, you can securely transfer files. Other software systems, such as Clio, Atlasware, and DIBcase, are great options for managing legal files and documents. And, fortunately, sharing capabilities are enabled in these cloud-based technologies. When drafting documents, you work is automatically saved if you use cloud-based technology, like Word, OneDrive, or Google Docs.
Personally, I use Dropbox on a frequent basis to share and collaborate on various projects. I use Clio with certain clients to share files, documents, and communicate.
If you need to conduct virtual meetings, which most SSD representatives do, Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts are great options.
For increased security on your files, purchase a VPN (or, Virtual Private Network). Don’t get the free VPNs because they often gather information you don’t want them to have, then sell it for profit. It’s worth investing in a quality VPN. Do the research and choose which one works best for you.