Make hybrid working a breeze


Productivity hacks for every blocker

Ever try to focus while a barrage of emails and notifications flood your screens? Productivity instantly feels like a distant dream.

If you’re a hybrid worker trying to navigate this world of distractions, don’t listen to the productivity gurus. A working day that starts at 4am with a two-hour workout, an hour of meditation and a smoothie blending 17 different vegetables might work for some people, but it’s not realistic for most. Thankfully, we’ve got a few ways tech can help your working woes—all whilst preserving your lie-in time.

You're experiencing email overload


Emails are remorseless. Seven arrive while you’re making a cup of tea, and we all know the panic-inducing feeling of opening your inbox after a week off.

Start by blocking out regular times for emailing: half an hour at the start and end of your working day, for example, with another half-hour either side of lunch if needed.

How to fill that time? It’s all about triage: a technique that involves working quickly through your inbox. Emails that aren’t relevant or need to be kept go straight to the bin for starters. Anything that you think will take less than two minutes to reply to gets implemented straight away, and then archived—Outlook 365’s message folders can help categorise those saved emails so you don’t lose them.

Emails that require a longer response, or which require immediate action, can be added to your Outlook tasks list to help you plan your work. And, once done, these emails can also be archived. It’s a system that can clean up even the most terrifying inbox pileups.

Your to-do list is overwhelming


You know the feeling. A to-do list so long you find yourself paralysed by indecision and don’t get any of it done. Fortunately, there are systems that can help you blast through your tasks here too.

Time blocking involves dividing up your day into blocks, using Outlook to mark them on your calendar and assign specific tasks to each block of time.

Within that you can also use the Pomodoro Technique, where you decide how long you want to work on a task (20 minutes, for example) and set a timer for that amount. When it goes off, you take a short break, then continue with the next task.

You can even outsource help with prioritisation—try using ChatGPT. Simply input your list of tasks and ask it to help you prioritise them. You might be surprised at how helpful its suggestions are.

A woman studies her phone while working, with her young son sat on her lap

You're easily distracted


The phrase ‘deep work’ coined by author Cal Newport describes the state of proper concentration when you get your best work done without being distracted.

Sound appealing? Try disabling notifications on your smartphone for a set period, as well as the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature on Windows.

If setting your Teams status to ‘Busy’ or ‘Do Not Disturb’ isn’t doing the job, set your own boundaries with a firm calendar invite for all to see. Block out times in your shared calendar when you need to focus, to help colleagues get the message.

If distractions aren’t quite so under your control (those Teams backgrounds are designed for a reason) then focus can still be reclaimed. A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones can help zone out unwelcome sounds.

Finally, the housemates or kids being busy on Fortnite or Roblox shouldn’t mean watching your boss buffering. EE’s Work Mode lets you prioritise the WiFi connection to work apps like video calls if other people in the house are gaming or streaming video.

You struggle with mid-afternoon motivation


The afternoon slump is real. We’ve all had those moments where we close our eyes briefly, only to open them again and find half an hour has passed and you’ve got two minutes until your next meeting. Yikes!

If you don’t need to be on video, why not try taking things outside? We’ve all heard the complaint ‘this meeting could be an email’, but it’s also true that plenty of calls could be a pleasant stroll outside. If you’re flagging, a walk outside can boost both creativity and focus. Those noise-cancelling headphones we mentioned will cut out any annoying background noise.

A man taking a walk outside

You're often on the move


A key benefit of hybrid working is its flexibility—and that isn’t just about working from home or at the office. It’s about working from anywhere when you need to—whether that’s a coffee shop, travelling for work, or the school run. With EE now offering reliable 5G and free Wi-Fi hotspots galore, that’s finally achievable.

To keep up productivity when out and about, Outlook Mobile’s ‘Play My Emails’ feature will help you to flag, archive and delete emails, leaving a cleaner inbox when you return. OneNote’s dictation feature also enables you to write drafts by speaking, updating to the cloud as you go.

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