The situation in the world is forever changed by our work. Many teams started working remotely practically overnight. However, is it easy to switch to remote work in express mode? This form of performing duties can be very effective, but we must pay attention to a few non-obvious issues. One of them is setting goals and priorities that will allow you to work effectively in home office mode.
How to prioritize while working remotely and why do it?
Remote work is challenging in many ways. Especially since it imposes the need to follow self-discipline and appropriate organization of work.
From the manager’s perspective, setting e.g. specific working hours will not always result in the effective implementation of the tasks entrusted to the employee. The idea of remote work is the ability to perform duties anywhere and at any time! Therefore, it can be said with certainty that in order to obtain much more tangible results, one should focus on task-related aspects of work – defining goals to be achieved and indicating priorities that a remote employee should follow. The goal is one of the key conditions for effectiveness in remote work – the awareness of the effect that can be achieved enables the optimization of paths leading to its achievement. In addition, each correctly formulated goal should be recorded, preferably using task management tools.
Specific priorities for remote work make it possible to mentally systematize the steps to be taken to reach him. Meticulous analysis and prioritization of goals is very important in establishing and creating a priority list. Determining how urgent and important specific actions are will allow us to save a lot of time by properly planning work for a given day. The reason for not achieving your primary goals is to spend time on secondary issues first. Of course – these tasks can be very important, but they are not the most important. As a result, we can leave too little time to complete key tasks, which in turn will result in a decrease in the quality of their performance. However, if we are held accountable for the effects of our work, and not for the time spent on the task, then in many cases our work will become more effective, and we will do it faster!
However, if we don’t create properly structured goals and priorities, we can face serious consequences. What? One of the biggest mistakes in managing the time of a remote team is the employee spending time on work, the expected effect of which he does not know. As a consequence, there is a lack of motivation, low quality of results and a sense of lack of sense in the duties performed. By presenting the employee with clear goals to be achieved, he can look at his work from a new perspective and when carrying out tasks, answer the question: how will the implementation of this specific activity contribute to the achievement of the goals?
Good practices in remote work
In remote work, it is necessary to be involved in the work performed and a strong concentration on the duties performed. Home office is characterized by more distractions than stationary work, therefore a strong focus on achieving the goals set is essential. Must separate work and domestic responsibilities, and when achieving the goal, try to fit within the time allotted for its implementation.
Each day of work from home should begin with creating a to-do list and analyzing which tasks are the most urgent and which can still wait. On this basis, we set priorities for a given day. You also need to evaluate how long it might take to complete a specific task. Often a good solution is to note these assumptions, e.g. in the Google calendar. However, regardless of the system we have established, it is important to return to the created list during work and realistically refer to the assumptions.
How to set goals in remote work?
When setting goals and controlling their validity, it is worth using the concept of formulating goals. For this purpose, the S.M.A.R.T. analysis can be used. However, when determining the urgency of tasks in relation to others, we will need a priority and time management matrix – I suggest, for example, the Eisenhower matrix.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) are the five recommendations related to features that should be properly formulated for a purpose. According to this concept, the goal should be:
- concrete – formulated precisely and unambiguously, without the possibility of different interpretations;
- measurable – Defined in such a way that it is possible to quantify the degree of achievement of the goal. If this is impossible, its implementation should be unequivocally verifiable.
- achievable – realistic. A goal that is too difficult has a negative impact on motivation and results in doubts as to its attainability.
- significant – valuable for the person pursuing it;
- timed (time-bound) – set on the basis of the time interval provided for its achievement.
The Eisenhower matrix enables tasks to be categorized into four types:
- urgent and important – priority matters that require immediate action;
- important but not urgent – tasks that may be scheduled later;
- urgent but unimportant – tasks intended to be delegated to someone else;
- issues that should be eliminated from the action plan
Such definition and grouping of goals enables their clear understanding and, as a result, effective implementation.
What to pay special attention to in dispersed teams?
Organizing, planning, controlling and motivating employees seems to be a much easier activity when dealing with a team focused on achieving goals in one place – usually the company’s office. Merely supporting team members and organizing resources to perform tasks may seem easier to accomplish. It does not have to be this way – working in a distributed mode, you can equally efficiently carry out all activities related to employee management. However, this management should be based on a few of the most important determinants.
The first is clearly stated, precise and measurable common goals. They unite the dispersed team and involve its individual members in their implementation. However, it is necessary to build a sense of team identity. The feeling of community and belonging increases the motivation to perform tasks, and communication between all persons involved becomes more efficient.
Another important point is proper structure of the team, clarifying the roles played by individual employees and defining tasks assigned to a specific role. In addition, people with specific roles must be able to work together as one entity, which is a team. In this case, it is worth that the team should also be of an appropriate size, determined depending on what goals are set for the team. It has been assumed that highly task-oriented teams should have up to seven members, but for example, teams focused on preparing as many ideas or solutions as possible should be more numerous. However, I leave the final judgment to you – but remember that it should be determined rationally based on the goals set.
What tools can help you prioritize your remote work?
Virtually every person has their own preferences related to the methods of planning your work and tasks to be carried out. There are many tools for this, but some of them play a key role in remote work.
The first is the calendar. It allows you to organize yourself among scheduled phone calls, videoconferences or deadlines for achieving goals. The most popular tool of this type is Google Calendar, which allows you to create events or virtual meetings and invite guests to them, who immediately receive a notification on their e-mail. I know some people use paper calendars – this is obviously an effective solution, but I find the electronic version of the calendar more functional, especially when we often organize online team meetings. In addition, everyone on the team can access our calendar so that they know when we are available and when they can contact us about something. Thanks to this, no one writes to us and does not distract us when we need to focus the most.
Another group of tools is solutions that enable project management. Here we need to talk about Trello, designed for long-term planning of tasks for many people. While working on achieving goals, we can drag a given task to another column, which is a specific stage of the project implementation. It is also possible to assign labels to specific tasks, defining e.g. the importance of individual tasks.
Note-taking tools, such as Evernote or Zoho Notebook, can also help you work remotely. They allow you to write down ideas or solutions that come to your mind in an orderly and organized manner.
Any tools dedicated to creating a to-do list, such as Todoist or Google’s To-do List, are also useful. Task lists allow you to for a concise description of them, defining the deadline for completion, marking off already completed tasks, or printing a ready list. These are very useful tools that allow you to return to your intended tasks without leaving your computer.
To sum up – effective remote work is based on skilful goal setting and prioritization. In order to effectively carry out your duties in the home office mode, you need high motivation, self-discipline and good organization . However, in order to maintain order in the tasks to be performed – it is worth using helpful concepts and tools that prevent chaos in the implementation of tasks. Remote work undoubtedly has its whims and poses completely different challenges, but the availability of technologies and tools meets our expectations – thanks to this, with a little self-discipline, we can effectively organize our activities in the home office mode. We hope you understood the above post how to set goals in remote work.