Working from home isn’t a walk in the park as some might suggest. It’s challenging to maintain a work-life balance and stay productive when you’re stationed at your recliner. Frequent calls, remote meetings, pets and kids, and countless other distractions compete for your attention.
Remote work has been around for years. In 2016, 43% of Americans worked from home, which rose to 62% by 2020 as the COVID-19 hit the world.
Work from home has many benefits, no doubt, but many remote workers struggle with maintaining their productivity level. Staying at one place day in and day out can get boring and dull. Then there are constant distractions from fellow inmates and other activities you’d love to do rather than work. With the freedom of working at your own pace and time, your work and life equation can quickly get out of hand.
However, all is not lost. With a little mindfulness and some changes in your routine, you can boost your productivity one-hundred percent. With a few tweaks to your home office and work routine, you can become even more productive than you ever were when you worked out of an office. Here are 10 easy ways you can maintain and increase your productivity while working remotely.
The first and foremost principle of working remotely is to create a schedule and stick to it. Since you’re at home, you might be tempted to work whenever you feel like it, but it’s counterproductive.
Your brain needs to know what to expect and be alert and attentive for the upcoming activity. Structure your day as you want it and follow it consistently!
Consider these important factors before setting your work schedule:
- Your routine must take into account the remote meeting schedules.
- Schedule work when your mind is fresh and maximum productivity is possible.
- Install applications in your smartphone that help you keep up with your schedule.
You can find many handy apps that can help you set a daily schedule and send you reminders. If you’re working with a team, download Teamup or Google Calendar to stay on track. Similarly, World Time Buddy or Time.is can help you schedule online meetings across different time zones by comparing them instantly.
When you work from home, you need the right tools to stay connected and productive. You’re working alone at home, and it can save you a lot of time because of the peace and quiet. You also save your time spent on water cooler discussions, but there’s a downside too.
Apart from missing human interaction, the simple tasks that needed only verbal communication can get lost in a sea of messages in chats and remote calls. Keeping everything streamlined while working remotely isn’t a struggle if you know the right tools to help you out.
You can use any of the powerful project management tools like Monday.com, ClickUp, Basecamp, and Trello. These applications can keep everyone on the same page and make communications easy, quick, and transparent. Identify the problem that’s keeping you from giving the top performance, and you’ll find an online tool to manage it.
If your household is too noisy or too quiet, positive noise can stimulate attention and eliminate distraction. Choose white noise apps such as Krisp.ai or MyNoise to produce positive noise and stay focused on your work. It can mask unnecessary noise in the background, helping you stay productive.
When you’re working from home for an extended time, it’s crucial to create a designated workspace for yourself. With a defined space to work, you can enhance your productivity and attentiveness. Avoid working from your couch or bed. It’s bad for your posture and creativity.
Your home office can be a separate room or a special nook in the room with your workstation and a comfortable chair for maximum back support. Get dressed to get in the mood for work. Working in pajamas may hinder motivation. Lastly, make sure your workspace is well-lit, as proper lighting has a profound effect on your productivity.
Whether you love to munch while working or have the TV on in the background, it can be a distraction. Take breaks, get out of your working chair, and go to the kitchen or the balcony to enjoy snacks or coffee. Your designated workspace is going to help the mind transition between work and relaxation. It also informs your family that you’re working and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Setting goals is vital for work, whether you work from home, the office, or a resort. Without goals and milestones, you cannot complete tasks on time or measure your productivity.
There can be many tasks assigned to you in a day that can be overwhelming. Prioritize them according to urgency or personal effectiveness. You can divide big projects into smaller chunks to maximize productivity. If you’re not setting daily goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
According to Henry Ford, “obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
When you’re not attentive to your goals, you can fall prey to procrastination or waste time in unimportant activities. Many apps can help you set and achieve your daily goals and milestones, such as any.do, confluence, and clear todos.
Not a fan of the apps? Get a good ole’ fashioned whiteboard, write down your daily goals, and tick them off as you achieve them.
According to researchers, even having two brief breaks during a prolonged task can improve productivity and attention. If you’re not taking breaks, your performance can decline and leave you stressed and tired.
As compared to office work, the remote working style can become more exhaustive in the absence of coffee and gossip breaks. You may be tempted to work quickly and complete your day’s tasks in fewer hours so you can get more time free. But the lack of movement and continuous work can be debilitating both for the body and the mind. Ultimately, it can lower your productivity and efficiency.
According to a study, 75% of remote workers can experience burnout due to continuous work. Especially for those who live alone, taking a break may not come to your mind while you’re engrossed in work.
So, make sure you leave your workstation for a while every couple of hours. Go out for a walk, do some yoga, or visit a local restaurant for lunch. You can also take this time to interact with your kids or furry friends. Once your mind is fresh, buckle yourself up, and move back to your work.
Some people are more productive during the day while others can focus best at night. According to research, only 48.4% of women and 39.7% of men believe that they are morning persons. For the rest of us out there, peak performance hours may fall anytime during the day or night.
Clinical psychologist Micheal Breus, author of The Power of When identifies four main chronotypes for peak performance and sleep preference based on our genes.
Since you’re working remotely, you can plan your entire day around your personal effectiveness. If you can’t wake up early in the morning, it’s okay to ditch the 9-5! Identify your most productive hours and prioritize the most crucial or demanding tasks for that time.
For example, if you’re a content marketer and a morning person, you should work on strategy and planning in the morning when you’re fresh and schedule calls and meetings in the evening. You will also need to consider your team and clients’ availability and create a schedule that suits everyone.
Communication is a big issue for remote teams. Miscommunication can affect your project and prevent the colleagues from bonding as you did on the office water cooler. Open and accessible communication between the team members, clients, and managers is critical for any business’ success.
That’s why remote teams need to arrange more frequent virtual meetups than the teams in the offices. Zoom and Google Hangouts are the best tools to communicate with a large number of employees at once. Use Slack or create a server on Discord for your company to communicate important information quickly and directly with each other. You can even play games on Discord with other interested team members.
With frequent communication with your team, your mind stays alert and in the game as you do your work. Clarity on work requirements and following joint goals also sparks productivity and creativity.
Many remote workers tend to work without a set schedule and mess up their sleep cycle. Quality sleep at a regular time is crucial for our physical and mental health. It’s a common misconception that working from home means you’ve to compromise your rest. But it can only happen if you don’t keep a regular sleep-wake time and don’t prioritize health.
A fresh mind and a healthy body are vital for productivity. A tired brain can’t utilize its true potential. Experts recommend no less than 7-9 hours of quality sleep; too much or too little sleep both have a negative impact on your health.
Besides sleep, it’s crucial to put some time aside for exercise, especially if you have a desk job. Go out for a walk or sit outside in the sun for at least half an hour. Try meditation with Calm or Rainymood app that helps you relax and unwind.
Avoid junk and eat healthily. Since you’re at home, you can prepare your own food and snacks in one of your breaks. You can even bond with family over baking cookies or making a pot pie. If your routine is already haywire, try herbal teas and deep breathing techniques to calm your nerves and help you sleep better.
Working from home gives you a unique opportunity to connect more with your friends and family. Since you’re working alone with no colleagues around, spending time with others around you becomes even more crucial. But, too much interaction during work turns into a tug of war between your work and the distractions.
Setting boundaries is oft-neglected, but it’s a crucial part of creating a healthy work-from-home routine. Communicate your schedule both with your team and your family.
Turn off all notifications and shut off your work mind when you’re enjoying the company of your family, friends, or yourself. And, when it’s time to work, consistently enforce your boundaries and refrain from indulging with your partner, kids, and pets. It’s easier said than done, so here are a few tips you can follow to set up work boundaries.
- Request your family members not to disturb you when you’re working.
- Work from your workstation and if you’re not working from your usual nook for a change, make sure to inform your family.
- For emergencies, ask your family to call you instead of coming shouting.
- Consistently enforce your boundaries politely but firmly.
A well structured day will help you manage your family and team’s expectations from you. Therefore, you need to set limitations and well-defined boundaries to balance your work and personal life.
No matter how much you love where you live, a change of scenery is always advantageous. Remote work allows you to work from anywhere in the world. Why not take advantage of this opportunity and explore the world?
Yes, it can be frightening, but as C.S Lewis writes in the Chronicles of Narnia, do not dare, not to dare, because life is too short to live in fear.
You’re not bound to the 9-5, so why slave away in the confines of your room.
Take your laptop to the patio or garden and let the fresh greens and blue sky inspire your productivity. Go out, explore your area, and visit local cafes to work. Have a budget? Why not travel to another city or even another country and take your work with you.
Being a digital nomad is fun and entertaining. As the famous Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho, says, “If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: It’s Lethal.” And, it is… It’s lethal for your productivity, health, and relationships.
As a remote worker, you’re in a unique position to enjoy your life while making money. With the above 10 ways to stay productive while working remotely, you can see it’s easy to give top performance and enjoy a balanced life.
However, you must shift your mindset. In an office, your day is structured by default. At home, you still need to have a routine, but you’re blessed to be able to structure the day the way it works for you and your family. Isn’t that wonderful!
Are there any other tips you use to stay productive while working from home? Do share with us in the comments.