With the culture of remote working gaining traction, especially amid coronavirus epidemic, work from home seems ideal choice for many private as well as public institutions. But can you be as productive when you work from home like you might be in a regular office? This blog post provides smart productivity tips for remote workers.
Work from home trend is emerging as professionals, start-ups and even established enterprises are acknowledging its pros like saving on commuting time and a better work life balance. But as with everything, even working from home has its perils.
It’s not easy to maintain your productivity levels when you are working within the comfortable confines of your home. There may be too many distractions to affect your focus and attention.
So if you are joining the work from home tribe you need to plan your work schedule in a manner where you can get your tasks done and get adequate time to unwind too. Here is a list of 25 smart tips for better productivity when working from home.
Best Work from Home Tips for Productivity
Have you heard the maxim ‘work smart and not hard’? These productivity tips here basically expand upon this simple yet powerful saying. The popular perception of productivity or being productive with your time is slogging for long hours, which is not necessarily true. With an unwavering focus and attention you can easily get done with your work within a set time-frame.
In addition when you have some systems in place to ensure that your workflow is seamless and smooth there is simply no better alternative than working from home. Now let’s dive straight to these points.
#1. Determine Actual Working Hours
The first problem when working from home, especially if you are a solopreneur, is fixing your work hours. Just like in an office determine your work hours at home too. How long can you work without being distracted? When are you most productive is early morning or mid-mornings? Do have to attend any home chores in between? So think realistically how many hours you can work. Our productivity levels vary throughout the day. Observe when you are most active and create a routine accordingly.
A) Try Pomodoro technique where you work distraction free for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break to reset yourself and resume your work again.
B.) When you are unwinding for the day or setting your day priorities you can try the time-blocking method where you block your hours as per your personal and professional requirements.
#2. Focus on Deep Work
The aim of deep work is to create a 100% distraction-free environment. When you are working from home it is easy to lose focus with so many enticing options like a short walk to the fridge or check numerous social media notifications. Infact nothing can plunge you into the rabbit hole like social media apps. So definitely keep your phones away when you are focused on deep work or maybe install an anti-distraction app like Forest that makes you accountable for your time.
#3. Make a designated home office space
An important aspect of working from home is to have a separate space for your home office complete with desk and chair and other office essentials because work from home is regular work sans the office. Also working from your bed or living room sofa may tempt you to lie down and catch some beauty sleep. So it is crucial to your productivity levels to have a designated spot, preferably away from your bedroom, where you can quietly concentrate on work.
#4. Get ready for work
Best part of work from home is the comfort of working in PJs but many people find this a productivity killer. To get into full work mode develop a routine you would adhere to if you were working in an office. This means waking up at a certain hour, eating your breakfast and getting ready for work. Yes, actually dress -up for work to be mentally and physically ready for the day. This is would also help you look more professional in case you have to attend video-calls with clients and colleagues.
#5. Establish some ground rules with family
There is this erroneous notion that work from home is gives you ample time to attend various household chores, make time for useless chit-chat, sleep; basically do everything that wouldn’t do in a real office. So at the very onset make some ground rules with your family which means respecting your work hours by not disturbing you every now and then. Make it very clear in as many words that your work time is sacred.
#6. Netflix and TV check
Watching news or some morning TV show or getting some glimpses of your favourite Netflix shows can be so tempting. But this can divert your attention from the work at hand. Don’t encourage this habit especially if you are running your own enterprise and basically you are your own boss. Work from home is about assuming responsibility and not being lax about work because it is easy to lose track of time in the wonderful world of Netflix.
#7. Create a Morning routine
Beauty of a morning routine is that it sets your tone for the day. Since you will be spending a considerable stretch on your desk starting at your laptop you might as well break this cycle of a sedentary lifestyle and get moving to catch some early morning fresh air, stretch your body, take a nice shower and then settle down to work.
#8.Don’t Skip Breakfast
There is a very real possibility that you may become lazy when working from home because getting ready is optional and commuting is largely absent. So you may use this time to indulge in some sleep only to frantically wake up and start working, on an empty stomach. Breakfast is important because it stabilizes your low sugar levels in the morning. So set some time aside to savour the most important meal of the day. Here is a post on 11 quick, tasty and healthy breakfast recipes.
Short breaks are so important to break the cycle of monotony. Allow yourself some short 5-7 minute break to step away from the whole work mode and get catch some breath. If you are remote worker be clear on your company’s policies on break-timings. If you are self-employed it is easy to get overwhelmed with work especially when you are doing everything by yourself. In such a case it becomes all the more important to designate some short breaks and let mind wander.
#10. Establish Clear communication
Sometimes when you are working from home or managing a team remotely communication can get lost in translation. So pay attention to what you communicate. If the need arises over-communicate to remove any room for vagueness and confusion. If you don’t understand any official instructions ask twice don’t hesitate.
People who are in managerial positions need to follow this tip, automate work among your teams, designate as much as possible for seamless work culture. Don’t be a control-freak and hover around your team-mates, trust them to meet their deadlines. A gentle reminder or two is fine but bombarding your colleagues with endless mail trails is only a waste of time.
#12 Use time tracker apps
When you are working from home it is easy to lose track of time. Time tracker apps will help you manage your time better by showing when are you most productive, time taken to complete a task, where you can improve. When are you working remotely and need to manage a team it is highly recommended that you use project management apps to stay focused on deadline.
Project Management Apps
2. Microsoft Teams
Video conferencing apps
2. Mindful Browsing
#13. Create some goals
When you are working from home, it may be difficult to maintain your motivation especially if you are starting a business from scratch. So create some small attainable goals for yourself to remain inspired in your journey. The best way to do so is to make a vision board of all your ideas, dreams and plans. A vision board would be a great reminder as to why you started your enterprise and how many milestones you have to achieve and how many you already have conquered.
#14. Don’t stretch meetings
To utilize time judiciously work in a time-bound manner on everything and that includes meetings too. When you are conducting meetings via video calls, you have to keep in mind certain risk factors too.
A.) Some people may not have a robust internet connection when it comes to video calls.
B.) Video conferencing isn’t free long meetings over Zoom or Skype consumes electricity, time and human resource.
Keep your meetings to the point and preferably under 45 minutes in a day. Before conducting a meeting, write down your points and allow your colleagues to make their observations as well.
#15. Affirm your availability
When you are working remotely it may happen that you are working in a different time-zone than your colleagues and clients. Make sure you inform them well in advance about your availability and the time-zone you are in. Activate out-of-office message in case you can’t reply to mails instantly. This will remove scope for any confusion.
#16. Get a standing Desk
Standing desks are thing now and certainly helpful in case you want to get up from your desk but can’t due to work pressure. Standing desk will ensure you don’t compromise on your health while working, do a few stretches, move around a bit while you are working at your standing desk. These wonder tools are also known to ease lower back pain.
#17. Enjoy lunch time
Working from home doesn’t mean you eat as fast as possible and rush to your desk. If you lunch allows the luxury to have a stroll then take it. Don’t skip your lunch and feed yourself on just energy bars. Stock up your fridge with some fruits and veggies. Munch on some healthy nuts and relish some good chicken breast salad. A weekly meal planning would go a long way in resolving your “I don’t have anything to eat” woes. Give your mind some nourishment for productivity to leap-frog.
Cyber-security should be your priority when you are working remotely. The information you device holds could be very crucial to hackers and cyber criminals. Use VPN (virtual Private Network) when sending important data for internal use. Most companies do have their own encryptions in place. Aim for one IT audit annually. Use premium communication tools during video conferencing free tools can compromise important information.
#19. Bond with Colleagues
Working from home may also be a lonely experience for some people, so do catch up with your colleagues once in a while via chat. Discuss things other than work as well. Seek to find common interests, or discuss on enhancing your skill-set through trainings. Get to know the person behind the screen. If you are a loner, still try and make an effort to bond with your team-mates. Also if your team-mates are in a common geographical area it doesn’t hurt to arrange for a get-together at common location.
Music has amazing benefits on productivity. Most people find themselves more focused with music playing in the background. When you are working from home try to put some soothing music in background while you work. This would also abate your sense of loneliness while working. Get a good headphone put on some good music, not too loud though and begin your tasks for the day.
#21. Separate work number
A separate work number is more professional and it helps in maintaining your privacy and a better work-life balance. You can reduce your stress by not having to answer office calls at odd hours. You can organize your business better by setting up a system by which clients can communicate with you, like having an automated voice response system even when you are available. For eg when you are attending calls from customers you set up a voicemail wherein the customer has to dail “1” to talk to you.
#22 Invest or Ask
When you are starting a business from home you may have invest in technology. If you can’t invest in the beginning consider upgrading your tools in future when your business gains traction. Don’t compromise on this, because as your business expands you will have to fuel it for smooth functioning. If you are working remotely for some organization don’t hesitate to ask for essential supplies in proportion to the work you have to put.
#23. Enjoy the perks
Work from home doesn’t mean you can let go off perks like travel, casual or sick leaves. Be clear on your HR policies, ask plans on skills trainings and compensation for overtime etc.
#24 Clear the clutter
Believe it or not but cleanliness actually improves your productivity. A clean environment helps you to concentrate better at task. Start your day by cleaning your bed or your desk. A bit of organization prepares your mind for the day.
#25. Shutdown for the day
Just like your morning routine create an evening routine where you can set your intentions and priorities for the next day. List out all the things you have done for the day as a means to develop a sense of responsibility and accountability. When you are working from home it is easy to mess up your routine so be mindful when setting priorities. Your work time shouldn’t eat into your family time or the need to unwind your mind.
Final thoughts on Smart Work from Home Tips
Ask someone who works from home and they would always tell you it is as real as working in an office minus the commute. If you already work from home or intend to in near future keep in mind these 25 points, even if you can’t follow all pick crucial tips that would work to your advantage. Did you find this post useful? Which of these tips would you apply when working from home?