Working from home comes with many advantages. You can take breaks when it suits you, there’s no boss peering over your shoulder, and you don’t have to endure the morning or afternoon rush hour.
The number of telecommuting employees has grown by 115% in the last 13 years, proof that this style of working benefits both workers and businesses alike. What’s more, 86% of employees claim they are more productive when working alone.
On the other hand, it’s not always easy to remain engaged with your tasks when working outside a traditional office environment. Although working at home is the ideal solution for many of us, we can’t afford to get complacent. Try these tips and tricks to boost your productivity:
1. Take exercise breaks
Research by the Brookings Institution shows that regular aerobic exercise enhances productivity. When you work out, your cells release more ATP, a chemical that allows your body to convert nutrients into energy.
You don’t need to spend hours exercising, either. If you hit a slump, all you need to do is take a short walk. This will improve your mental and physical energy, and also lift your mood in the process. If you can’t leave the house, why not put on your favorite song and dance around your living room for a few minutes?
2. Assert yourself with family and friends
We all know the importance of setting aside a designated work area at home. A home office is ideal, but a desk and chair in the corner of your living room will also suffice, especially if you can use a room divider. This keeps your professional and personal lives separate.
However, you will also need to practice telling the people you live with – in the nicest possible way – that they are not to disturb you during working hours. This is best done by rehearsing boundary statements and repeating them gently but firmly where appropriate.
For instance, boundaries such as “I am working at the moment, so please do not interrupt me” or “I will be free at 6 p.m., but until then I can’t chat” are effective if you stick to them.
3. Schedule yourself just like you would at the office
When you work at home, you will usually be responsible for structuring your day. If you are accustomed to working in close proximity to a manager who feeds you instructions and holds you accountable whenever you slack off, this may prove difficult at first.
The best solution is to follow a routine that would work equally well in a conventional office. Set yourself a regular start and end time for each working day. Although you could theoretically work flexible hours, most people find that keeping to the same schedule enhances productivity because the routine makes it easier to switch into “work mode.”
Every morning, decide on your tasks for the day and prioritize them accordingly.
At the end of the day, make a list of anything you need to do tomorrow. When you make your list, write down the length of time it will take to complete each task. Allow 10-20% extra time for contingencies. You can then use these times to put together a realistic schedule. If you happen to have any free time, you can simply move on to the next item on the list.
4. Dress as you would to go to the office
In theory, one major perk of working at home is that you can wear whatever you like. You’re probably familiar with the stereotype of the remote worker or freelancer who stays in their pyjamas all day.
Unfortunately, wearing clothes that wouldn’t be acceptable in a workplace isn’t a good idea. You probably associate pyjamas with relaxation, so wearing them while working won’t inspire productivity. Instead, wear the same kind of outfit you would wear to the office.
If you are a freelancer or work at home all the time, no problem! Just pretend you are meeting a client in a coffee shop, and dress accordingly.
5. Use an app to track your hours (and those of your team)
There’s no shame in admitting that you need help sticking to your task list. We live in an age where distractions await us at every turn, but you can use technology to your advantage with an app that monitors your hours. If you suspect that you’re wasting too much time online or chatting with colleagues in an instant messaging channel, an app will break through your denial.
In summary, you need to take the right attitude if you are to succeed at remote working. Fortunately, with these strategies in place, you can look forward to many productive, happy days in your home office.