Remote work is one of the trends revolutionising modern business because of its benefits for the individual and business activities. Flexibility, convenience, fewer person-hours spent on commuting, convenience, and reduced operational costs are just some of the benefits of remote work.
Once upon a time, remote work (WFH) used to be a practice for freelancers who enjoyed the freedom of being lone rangers that traversed the business landscape and lived by their own rules.
Then COVID-19 happened.
Life as we knew it changed, and most businesses had to adapt to the disruptive effects of the global pandemic or quickly die off. So many companies adopted the WFH concept to balance their needs to stay relevant in business with compliance to the safety protocols and measures occasioned by the pandemic. As a result, working remotely has saved a lot of business.
Interestingly, the working from home model doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon. But that is just one side of the coin.
Not everyone is as productive as they should be when working from home. There are just too many distractions to battle, and since the regimentation of office work is nonexistent, it takes a lot of discipline to stare at a computer screen for long hours while working from home.
Thankfully, there are ways around your struggles with productivity when working from home, so if you are in a WFH situation and struggle with staying productive at the same time.
No worries, mate, she’ll be alright.
We have come up with some tips for working from home that could help you stay productive as much as you can while working from home.
Keep a Dedicated Office Space
You have most likely seen an ad or two of a person working from the “comfort” of their beds/bedroom or everywhere else but a dedicated workspace. Now while such ads are pixel-worthy and stuff, don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes. You are less likely to get more done while setting up shop anywhere cool and comfy than you would at your workspace.
Get a home office space if you want to achieve anything while working from home. Depending on your living quarters, your designated workspace should be in a separate room with a door that shuts out any distractions that you might have around the house.
If you don’t have that much room (or even if you do), there is this thing called “desk-scaping” that you need to master to make the most of your workspace. With a good mastery of “desks-caping”, you will get to optimise your desk space as much as possible. The idea is to keep only those things you need at each point in time at your desk.
But that’s not all. It is extremely important that you invest in the latest office equipment to make your physical office and work environment as effective as possible. It would be best to do all you can to keep that space as alluring, comfy and functional as possible. Find ways to make the desk area colourful:
- Get pictures for the wall.
- Save up some great screen savers.
- Play around with the mugs, ink wells and even the pens and pads you use.
Colour affects mood, and you can manipulate them to boost your productivity. Whatever you do, opt for the spot in the room/house with the best natural light.
If you live with family, then you need to establish some ground rules and schedule time for them. It is all about time management.
Have a To-Do List
You need to be well-organised when working remotely, or you might have a Buckley’s chance at getting anything done that day. So get a task list that organises the tasks you need to handle in order of priority.
A daily to-do list helps you track every hour of your day to understand when you are productive or not. It also allows you to take on your most important task when you are in the most effective part of your day.
One great thing about such lists is customising them to meet your particular needs. But always make your most critical tasks the ones you work on as soon as possible while giving it the most time possible.
You also want to consider long-term goals and short-term goals. So as soon as you meet one goal, you clear it off the list. This way, you are better focused, and your motivation skyrockets as you progress with your work.
You could take things a step further by getting a planner so that you could track deadlines and appointments. The planner records all of that, remind you when you need to deliver tasks, and offers a schedule for your meetings & appointments.
There are a lot of productivity apps that could help you maintain a regular schedule and stay organised throughout the day when you work remotely. That way, you are more accountable and more likely to be more productive.
Tune in to Inspiration
There will be times when staying motivated throughout the day is challenging. No matter how many productivity tips you read about and all, it becomes difficult to pay attention. Making progress on critical tasks becomes an uphill task in such situations. You’d be surprised at the number of remote workers who struggle to stay productive when working remotely.
The good news is that there is a way to stay productive when you find it challenging to stay focused on certain tasks. The way out is to tune in to some inspiration. It could be listening to instrumental music, making a video chat with your other employees, getting some fresh air, getting on video chats with family members or just having to spend time with your kids during your personal time.
The idea is to do anything that inspires you and kickstart your motivation. At this point, it makes sense to get off the computer and allow some distractions if they will let you feel connected without making you lose track of your work.
Keep regular work hours
It is important that you have work hours that you stick to. You risk burnout from all those long hours. if you don’t do that. Always remember that rest is integral to productivity. It is easy to get caught up in the work when working from home and let it drag into the night.
Except you don’t have a social life, working long hours will take a toll on your relationships and output. You never achieve much by overworking yourself. That is why you need to set boundaries that separate your work life from your personal life.
The boundaries, in this case, are your working hours. Without them, you would not be able to maintain the right work-life balance needed to be productive at what you do. But just having working hours is not good enough. You’d need to stick to them.
One of the best ways to do that is to have something like a schedule or a routine that helps you plan your workdays. The thing with the routine is that you’d need to set it up so that you can follow it easily, or it becomes useless. Now there will be days when you might not stick to the routine. That’s okay.
What isn’t is overworking yourself regularly because you want to meet a deadline. So try as much as possible to be consistent with your working hours. You will end up doing more.
Even heavy-duty machines take a break now and then. That should let you know that you can only work for so long and that you’d need regular breaks to be productive. See your mind as a muscle that gets stronger as you exercise.
Any elite bodybuilder would tell you that the best way to grow your muscles is to exert them strenuously, after which you rest them. The same principle applies to your mind. After working on your tasks for a bit, your mind will get tired, no matter how hard you try.
That is where a break comes in. When you take breaks, you give your mind the chance to reboot and recharge itself. You will be more productive after the break. No matter how short the break is.
We recommend that you take a break of a few minutes to do something completely different from the tasks you were working on for every hour you spend working. You might opt for a nap, a long walk, take a lunch break or run some errands.
The idea is to take your mind off the current task (s) at hand to be refreshed and ready to tackle the job again. To do this, you need to schedule breaks as often as possible. And stick to your schedule for breaks.
Dress like you’re working
One of the most significant downsides of remote work is that no one in an official capacity sees you most of the time. So for most folks, that is an invitation to dress poorly and “let their hair down” while working. But you know what? That’s a trap that could lead to many issues with your productivity.
So what do you do?
Simple. Get rid of the pyjamas and casual clothes. While it might be tempting to stick to your pyjamas and do without a bath, you are tricking your mind into this false sense of freedom and comfort. This lulls your brain into thinking it’s okay to take things easy or take another nap (even if you just got out of one).
Dress like you would if you had to go to a job halfway across your city. That might be overkill for some folks, but for others, it puts them in that zone where they can tackle the most challenging tasks for the day. Dressing formally might be a tad too much for you, so you might want to take a bath and change into something less casual and more formal.
The idea is to dress up. You are letting your brain know that it is game time and needs to stay alert. Then again, you’d never know when you need to jump on a video call or conference calls with other remote workers.
Show up at meetings and be heard
It is important that you show up at your virtual meetings . Not just being present at the remote meeting but actually speaking up and being heard there. Now a lot of remote employees shirk “regular” office meetings, and you would think they’d do better when they are behind a computer. But that is not always the case.
Many remote workers are uncomfortable at virtual meetings, which affects their productivity. You see, when you speak up, you get to share your pain points on the job and get solutions to them. You also contribute to the discourse and build a great rapport with your colleagues.
Take Good Care of Yourself
This is one of the tips that should probably have been at the top of the article because you can hardly be productive if you don’t take good care of yourself. Now the idea of taking care of yourself goes beyond grooming. It involves ensuring that your mind, body and soul are in tiptop shape.
That means that you need to eat healthily and maintain healthy habits. There will always be the temptation to binge eat a lot of snacks and all whatnot when you work from home. Most times, you are filling yourself up with junk that affects your productivity one way or the other. So eat healthy (vegetables, proteins, fruits, nuts and loads of water).
You’d also need to do some exercise regularly. Exercise increases blood flow to your brain, improves your happiness levels and keeps you alert and in the state of mind that you need to handle your tasks well. Once you make exercise a central part of your morning routine, you’d find that you are more productive with the tasks that you have to handle.
No matter how short the time is, you’d start to see improvements in how you handle your tasks. Part of taking care of yourself also involves getting enough sleep. Like the breaks in your work schedule, sleep gives your brain the time it needs to recharge and regenerate itself. Without enough sleep, you would never function at your best, and that will affect your work.
Last but not least, take your sick leave when you feel under the weather. Never force yourself to work in that state. You’d never work at your best, neither would you get the rest you need to be at your best.
There are loads of benefits from the work-from-home model. But on the flip side, there are tons of challenges mixed with the benefits. But you could always work your way around these challenges with the productivity and time management tips we described in this article.
Each of these tips is actionable and easy to apply. We hope you act on them to become more productive while working from home.