In light of the Coronavirus epidemic, employers are choosing to extend telecommuting options to their employees. However, even before the need for social distancing, remote work has been found beneficial for both company and its employees.
Aside from being more cost-effective for companies, remote work can boost morale among employees, lower absences and turnovers, and encourage greater engagement. Staying productive at home can be a challenge, especially for the uninitiated. Here are ten tips that can help you better adapt to work at home and boost your productivity.
1. Create a routine
It can be a challenge to figure out how to go about your workday when working remotely, especially if you’re more used to the rigid structure of the office environment.
Creating a daily routine can help you better prepare for the day–both physically and mentally. Ideally, your routine should start from the moment you wake up, continue throughout the day, and end the moment you finish your work.
Try keeping a full-day routine a few times before deciding if you can continue with only the morning routine. Keep track of how long it takes you to get through your routine and make adjustments if necessary.
2. Take breaks
According to an Airtasker survey, the most effective way for remote employees to stay productive is to take breaks (37%). In particular, breaks are an opportunity for you to get up, walk around, grab a healthy snack, and so on.
It is especially recommended to take breaks when you’re feeling drained or distracted to resume work with a clearer mind. Using time management strategies like the Pomodoro Technique—focusing on a task for 25 minutes, then taking a 5-minute break immediately after—can help you schedule your breaks while balancing your workflow.
3. Keep a to-do list
From the same Airtasker survey, 30% of remote employees said that having a to-do list aided in productivity. This is because a to-do list helps employees keep track of deliverables and deadlines concretely.
While pen-and-paper lists may seem old-fashioned, there are many new ways to create a list. Browser plug-ins and mobile apps like Trello are free and provide a highly-customizable digital list that is intuitive and easy to use. It’s a matter of finding a to-do list system that best suits your habits and adding list creation and updating into your workday routine.
4. Eliminate distractions
In the middle of the day, you may find yourself drawn to opening every notification you receive or browsing endless pages of non-work content. While environmental distractions like noises or housemates can’t be avoided entirely, activities that deliberately take your mind off work can.
Keep your phone on silent throughout the day and avoid checking any notifications or messages unless you’re on break. If unwarranted browsing hinders your progress, consider installing anti-distraction software and tools that limit unnecessary browser use, letting you focus on the task at hand.
5. Control noise
One thing that can take you out of your productivity is the noise around you. Noises like a neighbor’s dog barking, ambient traffic sounds, or chatter from household members can negatively impact your workflow.
Invest in a set of good noise-canceling headphones or earphones to help block out noise. Creating a non-intrusive music playlist can also help cover up the sounds in your environment while helping you focus. If possible, create ground rules for your household members with regards to keeping noise at a minimum.
6. Set boundaries
Another challenge that working from home can pose is the lack of boundaries. More often than not, your brain may associate the home with being a place of rest and relaxation. Therefore, attempting to work in that same space can blur the lines between leisure and productivity.
It is crucial to set boundaries, both physically and mentally, to help better separate your work life from your home life. Select a specific area in your home for your designated work area to make it easier to get “in the zone.” Discourage your housemates and loved ones from coming into this space, if possible.
Finally, allow yourself to log off completely once work is over. Continuing to do work tasks even if you’ve clocked out will only encourage you to overstep your mental boundaries, making you less productive in the future.
7. Tidy your work area
It’s no surprise that clutter can get in the way of working. Not only do you run the risk of stressing yourself out over the state of your workspace, but you may also spend precious work hours sorting through your mess to look for things or reduce your stress.
Incorporate tidying your work area into your daily routine, preferably at the end of the day. This lets you start the next workday with a clean slate, focused on the tasks ahead. Take advantage of various storage solutions to create an organization system for your belongings, making it easier to locate items and return them after use.
8. Avoid isolation
Working remotely can create situations where you feel disconnected from your peers, taking a toll on your mental state. Even the smallest social interactions at the office, like chatting with your seatmate, can play a role in helping you decompress throughout the day.
Try keeping an open line of communication with your friends and loved ones to reach out to them, so long as it does not distract you from work. If possible, encourage your colleagues to have meetings and engagements over video calls to reduce the lack of human interaction.
9. Stay healthy
While working from home can be comfortable, it can also compromise your health, and to an extent, your productivity. However, it can be challenging to practice a healthy lifestyle if your movements are limited to your home, and you are in close proximity to the fridge or pantry.
It will take a conscious effort to maintain your health and avoid lethargy, weight gain, and even a lowered immune system. Make sure to do stretches at your desk and move around during breaks to improve your circulation and reduce muscle tension. Continue clean eating by staying away from junk foods and sweets. Instead, opt for healthy alternatives like fruits and nuts.
10. Relax after work
In line with setting boundaries, allowing yourself to relax after a full day of work has its benefits. Aside from creating the right work-life balance, taking the time to unwind after your shift helps you get adequate, restful sleep, preparing you better for another day.
Aside from doing things you enjoy—reading a book, playing video games, or catching a show on Netflix, it can help to reflect on the day to process your mood and emotions thoroughly. Keeping a diary for your day-to-day feelings can also help alleviate any stress or worries you may have, ensuring that you start the next day with a clear head.
At the end of the day, working from home gives you greater freedom to manage your time and create an ideal working environment for yourself. It’s simply a matter of knowing yourself well enough and making the necessary adjustments to your mindset and behavior. With these tips, you’re sure to find yourself on the path of better productivity in no time.