How to remain productive while working from home.

Since 2005, the population of remote workers has increased by over 140%. And judging from the current trends, it’s going to increase even more.

The advantages are wide-ranging — both to the employee and the employer.

For the workers, it includes a better connection with family, flexibility in terms of time, and so on. For the employees, the cost of renting workspaces is checked off the balance sheets.

In view of all these, every WFH employee is tasked with coming up with strategies to maintain productivity at optimum levels. And although doing so might seem hard, it’s not impossible.

I’ve noted down some tips that would help you along the way.

Saddle up, and let’s go!

Have a dedicated workspace

First off, let’s get some things out of the way:

Setting up in your bedroom or living room is a total no-no.

Why?

A simple TV ad or the sound from your favourite movie sitcom is very distracting. And before you know it, you’re trying hard to balance your attention between working and watching the TV.

Also, if you choose to set up in your bedroom, your brain tends to jumble up work with rest. You end up spending the whole night thinking about work, instead of having quality sleep.

Now that is out of the way, the next question is: what should make up your workspace?

  • Ergonomic furniture

Ergonomic furniture is specially designed to ensure comfort while minimizing the risk of various musculoskeletal complications.

And since you’ll be sitting down for a long while, it’s wise to get chairs and tables that give you proper sitting posture while you work.

  • Technology

Remote working and technology are Siamese twins… they can never be separated. Moreover, what would you use to communicate or make your work easier?

With that said, should purchase a work-dedicated PC, phone, router, and headphones.

If you can’t afford two separate systems, you get an additional hard disk for your system and dedicate it for work only.

Or better still, create a new user on your pc, and do all your work from there.

  • Office stationery

Since you’re working from home, there’s no longer an opportunity to get a refill of papers or pens from the storekeeper down the hallway. Or borrow some from a co-worker. You are responsible for ensuring all stationery is fully stocked.

Hence, always buy them in bulk. It cuts costs and ensures that they’re always available when you need them.

Aside from buying them, it’s important that you keep them in an organiser or in a safe location. Or else, you would spend the time meant to finish important tasks looking for a missing pen.

If the cost weighs down your account, notify your employer.

Pay attention to the design of your workspace

Studies have shown the correlation between workspace aesthetics and productivity. Little things like the colour of the room, or the location of a table all affect productivity more than you can imagine.

To perfect the aesthetic appeal of your workplace, you could try things out. You could include a plant, paintings on the wall, sticky notes with motivational quotes, a whiteboard, and so on.

The most important thing is discovering what turns on your productivity levels and incorporating them into your workspace.

Get accustomed to SaaS tools.

SaaS tools were previously limited to the IT department. But they grew in popularity during the pandemic, and more are launched day in, day out.

There are SaaS tools for almost any business process. And to make work easier, you should learn to use these tools. But if you’re finding it difficult to use them, check for tutorials on their websites or confer with google and youtube.

Some examples of these tools include:

Video conferencing tools: Google meet, Zoom, Skype

Project management tools: Asana, Trello, Zoho projects, Nifty, Base camp, Proof Hub, Project management.com

Work messaging and email tools: Slack, Mailchimp

Time management tools: Toggl, Clickify, Quick books Time, Time Doctor, Hubstaff

Daily planners: Calendly, Zendesk

Set boundaries

Working from home opens the door for all forms of distractions if you have people (family members, roommates, etc) living with you.

They could presume that since you’re at home, you’re doing nothing (even when you’re typing on the keyboard).

Hence, make family members or housemates aware of your work schedule ahead of time. They should know that when you put on your headphones or put your hands on the keyboard, no distraction is permitted.

If you have little children and you’re unable to balance your work and taking care of them, seek the help of a nanny and check up on them during lunch breaks.

However, if distractions at home are just too numerous and unavoidable, you could move to coffee shops, shared workspaces, libraries, public lounges, etc.

Keep social media at bay

Social media notifications are one source of distractions.

Checking just one notification could morph into hours of going through various social media platforms — hopping from one news article, picture, or video to the other.

So what’s the best way to avoid this?

First of all, mute those notifications!

Secondly, sign off from all social media accounts on your phone and laptop/PC and log in to them after work.

Finally, use a private (or incognito if you’re using chrome) window when you need to access the internet. That way, you’ll be less tempted to take “social media breaks” while working.

Stipulate work hours

Working is good. But when there’s no time for rest or other fun stuff, then it becomes wrong. It’s even worse if it develops into work creep — when your work and life become indistinguishable.

And when you’re working from home, work creep becomes an existential threat.

To avoid this, stipulate your working hours, coinciding with when you’re most productive. Stick to it until it becomes a habit.

And when it’s time for work, block out every distraction and zoom fully into work mode… just like you would if you were going to the office

Also, notify your coworkers and employer of your working hours. Better still, ensure that it’s included in your work contract. You wouldn’t want to be receiving work emails at odd hours of the night.

Play dress up: I mean for work purposes

Since you’re working from home, the temptation to work in your comfy PJs, without shower or makeup, and with uncombed hair is huge.

I get it. It feels comfortable and relaxing to do so. But don’t succumb to it.

Simply spending time to dress, do makeup, and comb your hair triggers your mind to switch into work mode. This makes you productive and focused on the job/s at hand.

Set aside time for lunch breaks

Since you are working at home, you might want to skip the launch entirely. But it puts a strain on your health.

Trying to suppress hunger only makes working harder than it’s supposed to be. That creative spark will be very hard to replicate when you’ve not eaten.

So, schedule a lunch break, tell your team members, and go and eat.

Friendly warning, however: Don’t snack on junks.

Instead, purchase fruits and vegetables or prepare your lunch the night before or in the morning before work.

Take short breaks.

Staying for hours in the same position, working on your PC, isn’t great for your health, especially your eyesight.

You see, taking breaks prevents stress, mental disorders, eye disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. Your health is too important to be sacrificed on the altar of work.

Therefore, step outside, stretch, and take some fresh air…

You should also implement the 20–20–20 rule which is meant to safeguard your eyes which could be affected in the long term by the blue rays coming from your computer’s screen.

What this rule entails, is that you take 20-second breaks, after working for 20 minutes.

Within these 20 seconds, you should:

  • Look out of the window or the focus on the farthest point away from you
  • Move your eyes in a circular motion
  • Move around and stretch your body
  • Close your eyes for a few seconds

To help with the timing, you can install an eyecare protect extension on your google chrome or firefox browser.

Schedule meetups either virtually, or in person.

Working from home can be very lonely.

I mean, the shock that comes with moving from a crowded workspace to a secluded one where you’re alone, can be enormous and puts a strain on many people mentally.

To solve this, you could schedule meetups: could be physical, of virtual.

Perhaps most importantly, discussions should be about anything but work. It’s a time to unwind rather than to delve into more work.

Weekends are for rest

A five-day working week is tasking. Not to talk of a 6 or 7-day working week.

Weekends are when the work ends. Therefore do well to set aside saturdays and sundays to rest.

But, don’t spend it cooped up in the house. Go out, visit friends, have some fun, schedule a weekend getaway, and so on.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that the idea is to let go of the stress that had accumulated during the week and get set mentally for the working week which begins on Monday.

Start and end your day with a routine

Instead of working the moment you step out of bed, do something else. Take a shower. Walk your dog. Or go to the gym. This serves as a mental trigger to start work.

Also, you should end your day with a routine to show that work has ended. It could be taking a walk, gobbling down a bottle of soda, going out with friends, and so on.

Over Communicate.

In the office, communication is quite easy. You can easily talk with your co-worker at the desk next to you or schedule a 2-minute meeting in the conference room.

But that’s not possible when you’re working from home. Hence, there’s a tendency for information to get lost. Or for misunderstandings to occur.

So, make it a habit to over-communicate with your team members.

They should know when you take breaks, go for a vacation, are unavailable, live in a different timezone, and so on. Don’t just presume that they’re already aware. Because if you do, it could result in missed deadlines, quarrels, and many more.

Have your work for the day all laid out.

Each morning, layout all the tasks you’ll need to finish during the day.

That way, you wouldn’t spend any second being unproductive. And you wouldn’t have to carry important tasks over to the next day or do them after work hours.

To make it easier, confer with your email first. Check if there are prior messages that are work-related and include tasks that are mentioned.

Have quality sleep

Good sleeping habits are key to a productive workday.

Sleep deprivation leads to unproductive workdays. The rest you couldn’t get the previous day will come to hunt you the day after. You’ll wake up groggy, tired, and unable to focus.

So, start work early, finish at a healthy time, and retire to bed early. Leave the late-night chats, clubbing, or binge-watching of tv shows to weekends. You ought to have at least 6 hours of quality sleep.

Aside from being productive while remote working, WFH employees face the dilemma of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Doing so is simple: your life and work should be like the sky and the ocean. They must never meet at any point. The moment one starts creeping into the other, you have a serious problem right there! Leave the work at your workstation.

Implementing these little tips will make working from home a productive experience.

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