How to master your productivity and accelerate your results
Interest in remote work productivity has really taken off in the last few years. And it’s not a surprise to see why. Companies are saving costs on expensive office space, and can access a global talent pool instead of limiting themselves to their city. For remote workers, they’re experiencing a new found freedom and flexibility that was previously unattainable for most employees.
But working remotely comes with its own challenges. We’re all drawn to the idea of working from home or having the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, but we soon realise that staying on top of our work with so many distractions isn’t easy.
We’ve been working remotely at Wesrom for nearly a decade. We have a main office that a large number of people work from, but that’s optional. A lot of our team have travelled, moved continents, or simply stayed put where they were but found more time for their friends, families, and passions.
We know first hand that making the transition to remote work isn’t easy. It certainly wasn’t easy for us. But we’re sharing this guide with you in the hope that it’ll make things a little easier for you and ultimately help you deliver better results in less time. Whether you’ve just made the transition, or you’re simply looking to increase your remote work productivity, this guide is for you.
We’ll share with you the exact tools we use to manage our workload and keep us on track. These tools might seem simple at first. And yes, there are a ton of project and task management tools out there.
Some are better than others. But for the most part, what’s important isn’t the tool. It’s how you use it (or whether you use it at all).
I don’t know about you but I can’t keep track of the number of remote work productivity tools and apps I’ve downloaded over the years. It took me a while to realise there’s no silver bullet to productivity.
The tool doesn’t really matter. What matters is your consistency. And the simpler the tool, the more likely you are to keep using it.
With that in mind, we’ve kept our tools simple, and accessible. There is zero cost attached to using these tools other than the time you put in to use them.
We’re going to share with you a simple worksheet you can use for yourself or your team to stay on top of your most important tasks and make sure you’re aligned with your goals.
These worksheets are incredibly simple and easy to use. In 15 mins or less a week, you could see your productivity and results skyrocket.
Before we share the worksheet with you, let’s breakdown our process for how it all works.
Setting Your Goals
What does your typical work week look like today? Do you know what you’ll be working on? Do you know if what you’re working on is having an impact on the company? Are your priorities and tasks aligned with your company and career goals?
These are important questions to answer. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily stream of calls, emails, team messages, and miscellaneous tasks that come through.
And while we might be “busy” handling those tasks, are we really moving the needle?
To set yourself up for success in your career and your company you need to be sure you’re working on the most important tasks first. How do you know what’s important for your role?
It starts with knowing your goals.
When most people think of goals they think of losing weight, running a marathon, or getting a raise. But what about your work goals and your business goals? Are your goals in sync with where your company wants to get to? And are the tasks you’re working on each day getting you closer to your goals?
Having goals is often associated with New Year’s resolution. Those things people want to change each year but fail by the end of January. We’re not here for that. We use goals to help keep us on track, a north star to guide us when things become uncertain or we start to steer in the wrong direction.
But how do goals work? And how do you set goals for yourself and your work?
Here’s how we break it down:
Your annual goals
These are your big KPIs for the year. Your target of where you want to end up 12 months from now.
Don’t want to overload yourself with big goals. If you do, you’ll very quickly become overwhelmed and won’t make any progress.
If you can keep it to one goal, so you have total focus towards that one goal, then great. But try not to have more than 3 or you’ll soon lose focus.
Setting your goals for the year is important. But they have no use if you set your goals and forget them.
Set aside some time to review your progress every quarter. For your quarterly targets you want to keep track of your progress every week.
For example, if you work in Marketing, your quarterly target might be to increase user acquisition by 10% in the next quarter. Or if you’re in Operations, it might be to complete an internal knowledge base for you and your team.
Whatever your situation, remember that your quarterly targets must be tangible. It has to be something you can track like number of subscribers, operational efficiency, sales conversion, etc.
Most Important Outcomes
One of the most common challenges people face in their day to day lives is knowing what to prioritize.
This is amplified in a remote setting because you’re not surrounded by your teammates or within reach of your boss to make sure you’re staying on track.
The key here is to focus on outcomes. What are the outcomes we want to deliver in order to achieve our goals.
Your Most Important Outcomes (MIOs) are your weekly action items you need to complete in order to reach your quarterly targets.
Your MIOs should be clearly defined. For example, if you’re in sales you might have your MIOs defined as 1. reach out to 300 new prospects on LinkedIn, 2. Book 25 sales calls, 3. Close 5 sales.
Keep it to 3-5 MIOs for the week. Any more than that and you’ll overwhelm your workload. Your MIOs should be visible to you and your team daily, as a constant reminder of what you need to be working on.
Other tasks will come up, and some you may have to spend time on. But it’s always good to check in with your MIOs on a daily basis to ensure you’re staying on track and prioritising the right work.
Tracking Your Results
When performance is measured, performance improves!
Scoreboards keep track of the WHAT, HOW and WHEN.
Whether you’re incorporating this for yourself or as apart of the team, here’s what to include in your scoreboards:
Your Individual Scoreboard Should
Contain your weekly Most Important Outcomes (MIO)
Help you measure and keep track of your past, present, and future goals in relation with your team’s quarterly goals
The Team Scoreboard Should
Track Lag Measures, Lead Measures (more on that below), and the team’s cumulative MIOs at the same time
Not have more than 3-5 KPIs at any point
Help the team understand they are responsible for getting results
Tell at a glance if you are winning or losing
Be easy to update and visually represent the team’s progress
Lead vs Lag Measures
What are Lead and Lag measures and how do they differ?
Lead measures are predictive, measurable, and specific. Lead measures help us make sure we’re focused on taking the right actions.
For example, if you’re in Sales, a lead measure for you might be “Send emails to 50 CEOs of Med-Tech startups in the UK by this Thursday at 1pm.”
Completing lead measures will lead to your Lag measures. Your Lag measures are results that have already happened. Like Lead measures, they also need to be specific.
A good example of a Lag measure is “raise our customer loyalty score from 40 to 70 by Dec 31”. A bad example would be “we are committed to enhancing our relationship with our customers.”
Another important distinction is Lag measures can’t be directly impacted. They are the results of actions you take to achieve them, but they’re not tied to one action.
Let’s quickly recap on tracking results. The key is to focus on your MIOs, Most Important Outcomes and making sure they directly impact your Lead Measures, which in turn will move the needle on your Lag Measures.
This creates a pattern of accountability for you and your team. Once you’ve set your goals, your lead measures, and your lag measures, you focus on setting and hitting your Most Important Outcomes each week.
Can you see how simple yet effective this process can be?
There’s one last piece we need to cover before we share the MIO and Scoreboard templates with you. And that’s how to run your MIO meetings.
MIO meetings are weekly meetings between you and your boss/team/direct reports to take stock at the past week and what you’re focusing on in the coming week.
It’s a quick 15-20mins meeting that helps everyone laser in on our priorities.
Here are a few simple tips to make the most of these meetings:
- Hold your meetings on the same day and at the same time each week. Choose a day and time that works for you.
- Set yourself 3-4 MIOs per week. Remember, these need to be measurable.
- Have them written down before your meeting ready to discuss with either your boss or your direct reports. This keeps the meeting short and succinct and avoids brainstorming during the meeting.
Here are 4 simple steps you can follow during the meeting:
Let's review what you did / Review last week’s MIOs
If you didn't meet your MIO, why not?
STORM: What needs to get done? / What will we do next?
Confirm/modify MIOs for this next week.
And there you have it. A simple weekly meeting to keep you on track with your Most Important Outcomes that help you hone in on your quarterly targets and yearly goals.
These meetings should be kept strictly in accordance with the agenda you have set out. Do not fall into the trap of adding anything other than MIOs to your weekly MIO meeting. This meeting should not be used as a platform to discuss other things you may want to discuss with your team.
Schedule a different meeting if that’s the case. Why? Because you want to build a habit and system around MIOs and Scoreboards. Don’t let them be hindered by any other meeting items you want to add.
Accessing Your Remote Work Productivity Tools
Now that you understand the process and how the tools work, you can get access to the MIO and Scoreboard worksheets. Use these consistently and we have no doubt you’ll see your results dramatically increase.
Remember, you could use this worksheet, or an app, or any other productivity tool you come across. It doesn’t really matter what tool you use. What matters is that you use it, and use it consistently. Don’t expect it to be a silver bullet.
To get the results you want, you have to put in the work.
So get at it. Download the remote productivity tools now, set your goals, and start executing on your Most Important Outcomes.