Whether you’re working from home because of the COVID-19 lockdown or because your CEO is a forward-thinking individual, maintaining peak levels of productivity at home is always going to be a challenge.
From your cat breaking pots (or dog begging for attention) to roommates (or parents) bothering you for seemingly trivial issues, the distractions are countless. Not to mention your constant urge to check your phone or social media for no reason at all.
Clearly, some tried-and-tested tips to boost your productivity will come in handy while working from home. These can also be useful to include as part of your employee training programs for remote workforce.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in:
Tip #1: Set Goals for the Day
As soon as you wake up, create a mental to-do list for the day and commit to completing it within your working hours. Of course, waking up early will give you a headstart, but it’s totally fine to sleep in a little extra to feel fresher, as you won’t be wasting your time being stuck in traffic.
And talking about commuting, the time you save on commuting can be used to properly plan your day, the tasks you’ll tackle, and even complete non-work related necessary activities that need to be done, such as cooking, laundry, running errands, etc.
In fact, setting goals and creating a quick list of tasks (with or without time limits) first thing in the morning will make it easy to focus on doing the actual work throughout the day. It’ll also help you stay motivated as you keep crossing tasks off the list.
Tip #2: Create a Workstation
When working from the comfort of your home, it’s all too easy to be, well, too comfortable. This can quickly translate to lethargy, something that doesn’t help productivity. So, in most cases, it’s not a good idea to stay in your bed or kick back on the couch — spaces that are mentally associated with leisure activities.
Instead, set up a dedicated workspace that is free of distractions — a clean, well-lit table with nothing but the essential tools you need to work efficiently. This can be in a spare room or in your own room as long as it’s deemed as a serious place for purely work-related activities.
That said, if you can work efficiently from your bed in your PJs, then that’s great! There’s no hard and fast rule, it’s about finding that spot where you can work earnestly yet comfortably without distractions.
Tip #3: Take Frequent Short Breaks
At the end of the day, it’s about getting the job done. Forcing yourself to stay on your desk even when you’re unproductive isn’t doing anyone any good.
Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, studies suggest taking short breaks does actually help with improving productivity and creativity levels.
Taking frequent 5-10 minute breaks can do wonders for your productivity. You could take a break as a reward for each task you check off your to-do list (this also helps with motivation), when you hit a wall/creative block, or simply because you can’t seem to focus and need to freshen up.
Get up and do some stretching. Play with your pet, socialize with whoever’s home (or on a short video call), get a little snack in your belly, and then get back to work. You’ll realize an instant boost in your productivity and you’ll get more done in less time.
Tip #4: Stay in Touch With Your Colleagues
The initial feeling of joy in solitude can quickly wear out and soon you’ll find yourself longing for some social interaction with another human being. Because, after all, humans are social animals by nature.
Working from home can get pretty lonely, especially if your work involves writing, coding, or crunching numbers instead of coordinating video conferences or attending virtual meetings.
To alleviate such feelings of detachment, make it a point to chat with colleagues and team members every day, even if it’s not work-related. Knowing how their workload is or what’s going on in their daily lives will go a long way in warding off loneliness.
What’s more, regular exchange of texts over Slack/Skype or quick calls while working remotely can help maintain your relationships with your coworkers and managers. Besides, it also shows that you’re around and working, instead of playing outside, for example.
Tip #5: Don’t Think of it as Work From Home
Finally, simply making a mental association of your weekdays with work and office can make you more productive while telecommuting.
“Get fully ready for the day and pretend you’re actually going to work. Otherwise, you might find yourself back in bed,” aptly says Anna Faber-Hammond, a graphic designer at HubSpot.
So, when working from home, continue to do the things you’d usually do to prepare for working at the office: take a nice morning shower, change into proper clothes, get a cup of coffee, and so on.
Internet browsers like Google Chrome even let you set up multiple accounts with different toolbars on the top — for instance, a toolbar for home and a separate toolbar for work (which doesn’t have any links to social media or Netflix).
All these routine activities add up to a more productive workday.
Over to You
As you’ve likely already discovered, work from home isn’t all fun and games. Productivity can easily take a hit and the dismal feeling of being “stuck in a rut” can be distressing.
But with proper planning and scheduling, work from home will help you achieve higher levels of creativity and productivity while establishing more work-life balance and learning opportunities. Plus, it’s better for the planet as you reduce your carbon footprint, and even your wallet as you save on fuel.
So, follow the aforementioned tips, find what works for you, and soon you’ll be more productive than ever before.