Over the last few years, there has been a clear shift in attitude towards working from home, largely driven by the global pandemic. With our homes often filled with so many distractions, many workers are looking to find ways of staying productive when working from home.
If you’re considering a remote role or you’re currently working remotely, you may want to understand how to maintain your productivity.
In this article, we explore how you can be more productive and provide some tips on how to maintain that productivity.
How to Be More Productive When You Work From Home
When you’re trying to improve your productivity, many of the same fundamentals that apply within the workplace can also apply to remote workers at home.
That said, it’s just as important to realise these tips don’t work for everyone. You need to understand how you work and what suits your personal style:
Have a dedicated space for working
One of the biggest drivers of productivity is a good work/life balance, especially when you’re working from home. Having a dedicated workspace in your home is a great way of finding this balance. While you may be just as productive when you’re working from the living room, you want to make sure that you have a way of disconnecting at the end of the working day. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare bedroom or office, make sure you use it! Setting these boundaries is important and cultivates a mindset of ‘when I’m in this space, I’m working.’
Make sure you organise your workspace!
Having an organised workspace – set up to your needs and workstyle – is a great way staying productive when you’re working from home. If you utilise different tools or devices, make sure they’re easily accessible. If you need a second monitor, better chair or other health and safety items such as footrests, speak with your employer, they should be able to arrange these things for you.
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Maintain regular working hours
A common problem that many people run into when they work from home is working different hours than they usually might in a set workplace. Whether it’s starting earlier, working later or simply preferring to work during unsociable hours, all of this can impact your productivity levels.
While it might be tempting to wake up an hour early and clock off once you’ve done your hours, you may find this hinders you in the long-term. This is a particularly important consideration if you’re a person that needs routine or structure.
Remove potential distractions around you
A great way of being more productive working from home is by taking steps to reduce how many distractions are around you. This is much easier if you have a dedicated workspace you can operate from.
Don’t have TV or distracting podcasts on in the background and establish set breaks rather than stopping and starting at random. Although how much you might be distracted is largely impacted by your own self-control, trying to establish a distraction-free environment can stop you from developing bad habits.
Set expectations with people
If you’re working from home with other people present – such as family or roommates – it’s important to set boundaries with these people. There’s no problem with stating ‘I’m not going to be available between this time and this time, even if you just want a quick chat’. This reduces the chances of you being interrupted and can lead to a much more positive experience.
Take regular breaks
While we don’t suggest taking random breaks, we do suggest establishing a pattern of regular breaks that suits you. Research suggests that breaks are often beneficial and depending on how you work, a technique such as Pomodoro may help increase productivity.
Pomodoro is a concept of working in short bursts and taking small breaks often, as a reward. For some people, it’s shown to increase concentration, limit distractions and break down more complex tasks into bite-sized chunks they understand.
The method includes:
- Choose an achievable goal
- Work on the task for 25 minutes
- Take a 5-minute break
- Repeat this process until the larger goal is finished
- Take a longer break of 10 – 15 minutes
With this approach, you’re maintaining maximum focus for each 25-minute period of work and ensuring these chunks contribute to a larger goal, rather than trying to tackle the whole thing in one go.
Regularly communicate with colleagues
It’s easy when you’re working remotely to find yourself not communicating with colleagues as much. Take the time to chat with them over a messenger platform such as Slack or Whatsapp or – if they’re comfortable – video call to make it more personal. This can be a great opportunity to take a break, bounce any ideas around that you have and may even help you return to your work more inspired or focused.
Establish a set time-management system
You may already use this as part of your natural workflow but a specialist time management system or platform can help you stay productive when working from home.
There are several programs out there that can help you create to-do- lists, assign deadlines or expectations to projects and ensure multiple people can operate on one project.
Make sure you have a fixed lunch hour
As remote working becomes more popular, more unusual challenges emerge and one of these is the lunch break. Many work-from-home employees face issues with their lunch break – either not taking one at all or letting it extend into set working times.
It’s critical that you take the time to eat, recharge and reflect on what you’ve done so far in the day. There’s no need to be incredibly strict on your lunch break but it’s important to implement it into your schedule and use it as a way of maintaining a routine.
Why is work/life balance important?
Having a healthy work/life balance can make both elements better. If you take the time to separate the two and work on both without one overpowering the other, you can find success in your career, which can translate to happiness in your personal life. The same is true the other way around.
A major part of working from home and establishing a healthy work life balance is creating a pleasurable working environment that is only utilised during set times. The happier you are during the periods you’re working, the more likely you are to be productive. If you feel you’ve had a productive day, you’ll have no problem with switching off and enjoying the rest of your downtime.
It’s important to make sure you don’t feel you’re constantly trapped in the same space. This is particularly true for people living in flat shares or apartments with multiple people. If you’re sat at your desk in your bedroom all day working and then also stay in there to watch TV, you’ll eventually find it difficult to see where work stops and life begins, which can be an issue.
This is why having separate spaces for work or simply taking the time to speak with other people regularly during your breaks can contribute to a more effective workflow.