Working from Home? Here Are 11 Pro Tips to Stay Productive
Whether you're an employee, manager, or freelancer, you can experience the joys and benefits of working from home. There will be little to no time wasted on commuting. You’ll also enjoy reduced stress, flexible scheduling, no office politics, and more time with family.
You also know that working from home has its caveats – distractions, loneliness, isolation, fatigue, and weight gain (yes, that’s a big issue). Oh, and did we mention the luring temptations of laying on your couch or bed? Don’t get us started with all the Netflix shows you can binge-watch.
If you're just starting out, you must be eager to learn how to successfully work from home. You’ve come to the right place. Here are 15 tips to help you lead a better and more productive remote-work life.
Can You Become Productive While Working from Home?
If you’re a working mom, things get complicated. How do you even balance your busy life of taking care of family and completing projects on time? Without proper time management, you can as well say goodbye to social events, night outs, and movie nights.
Having said that, is it still possible to stay productive while working from home? A survey by Airtasker says you can do this. A group of 1,004 participants, 505 of whom worked from home, were surveyed to compare their productivity, health, and spending habits. The study concluded that remote workers not only worked more but were also more productive. This is just one of the many studies associating working remotely and increased productivity.
So, what can you do to stay efficient while working from home? Here are some tips:
1. Work with a Schedule
When working from home, it’s a struggle trying to accomplish all your daily goals and still maintain a work-life balance. You can't achieve this without setting clear guidelines for when to work and when to stop.
That’s why you must create a work-from-home routine and stick to it. No doubt, there will be days when you may have to extend your working hours for a demanding client. When you do, remember to find time to make up for it, such as sleeping in the next morning.
When you work with a schedule, you avoid wasting time choosing which projects/tasks to do. You will also know how to start your day efficiently. In the end, your workflow is smooth, and you become more productive. To make your schedule work better for you, why not take advantage of a time tracking app like Traqq? It helps you monitor all your activities and projects, allowing you to determine whether your schedule is working for you.
The tool records every second you’ve worked and summarizes everything in a timesheet. You can see how long you’ve spent working on a particular project. You can also view your most productive times of the day. What’s more, it records the apps and websites you visit the most, which can help pinpoint if you spend too much time on non-work-related stuff.
Traqq is also an employee monitoring tool. It lets you view your team’s activity levels or analyze an individual’s performance. This information is useful when assessing your team’s overall efficiency and productivity in relation to profits. It even takes screenshots periodically, showing you the progress of each employee. This eliminates the need to micromanage workers.
2. Personalize Your Workspace
We all have unique ways of doing things. If it's possible to have an actual office in your home, make the best use of the available space. Otherwise, find a cool, quiet area with as few distractions as possible.
When setting up your workspace, try to customize it to your liking. Find the things that can have a positive effect on your emotional well-being. Is it scented candles, flowers on your desk, or soothing music? The intention is to create a personal space that not only makes you feel relaxed but also focused and motivated.
3. Develop and Maintain a Morning Routine
What’s the one thing that gets you going? Is it a morning workout, a five-mile morning run, a shot of espresso, or a long, hot shower? Creating a morning routine helps you to stay productive throughout the day, especially when working from home.
You must have heard several times that how you start your day determines how the rest of your day will be. Having a set of habits that you repeat each day can have positive effects on your mindset and work life. Learning to start your day right is one of the best life improvement tips anyone can follow.
4. Establish Boundaries with Family and Friends
When working from home, you share your workspace with other people. This can lead to distractions from every direction. That’s why you need to set ground rules with the people in your house.
Let them know what they can and cannot do when you're busy at work. If you have an actual home office, let them know when you cannot be disturbed. The good thing about working from home is the flexibility of adjusting your work schedule. However, don’t let this freedom interfere with your work performance.
5. Dedicate 90 Minutes to Your ‘Peak Time
Your ‘peak’ time is the time of day when you're most efficient. It's that period when your concentration and focus are over the roof. For most people, it's early in the morning, while for others, it’s in the afternoons or evenings.
When you identify your ‘peak’ time, block at least 90 minutes and direct all your energy to the most important or urgent tasks. Blocking out time for purely focused work is one of the top tips for staying productive while working from home. It's during this time that you can get the most done, with very few distractions around you.
6. Plan for Tomorrow, Tonight
You don’t have to be a busy dad or mom to know that planning your day is extremely beneficial. The best way to do this is to make a to-do list the night before. Squeeze around ten minutes at the end of your working day to analyze the things you need to get done the next day.
If you fail to do this in advance, you’ll end up wasting a precious chunk of time in the morning. Consequently, this might interfere with your morning routine and your entire day. When creating a to-do list, be sure to prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. This will help set the order in which you’ll be tackling tasks.
7. Take Regular Breaks
If you work for more than two hours non-stop without taking a break, you risk getting fatigued. You need to step away from the computer screen for a few minutes after every 60 or so minutes. Otherwise, your mental stamina will be drained, and your productivity will drop.
A timer like Traqq notifies you after every hour you work. Once you get a notification, you can take a 15-minute break. This way, you come back refreshed and energized.
You can also implement the Pomodoro Technique, which involves a series of 25-minute focused ‘sprints’ on a specific task, followed by a five-minute break. To break it down:
- Select a task you want to tackle.
- Focus on it for a full 25 minutes without distractions.
- After the 25 minutes are over, take a five-minute break. You’ve just completed the first Pomodoro ‘sprint’. Increase your break time after every four to five Pomodoro sprints.
- Continue with this cycle throughout the day until the end of your workday.
This technique prevents you from feeling drained quickly. It can be helpful, especially when you are feeling less motivated to work. It has also been shown to help employees decompress and return to work more focused.
8. Take a Power Nap
A power nap in the mid-afternoon has been associated with improved creativity, cognitive skills, and memory boost. Tech giants Samsung, NASA, and Google are some of the companies that have implemented this technique.
Studies show that napping for 20 minutes recharges your energy and gives you renewed focus. It’s also said to be the secret to harnessing your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Try to find the appropriate time to be taking a nap and experience, firsthand, a boost in your performance.
9. Embrace Monotasking
For some reason, we tend to believe that we get more work done when we multitask. The sad truth is that only 2% of the population can efficiently multitask.
The problem with multitasking is that you bounce from one task to another, forcing your brain to switch speeds constantly. As a result, you fail to fully focus on the tasks at hand, leaving many tasks half done.
Forget about multitasking and learn to monotask. Your productivity improves when you fully concentrate on one task and get it done as best as you can, before moving to the next task.
10. Get Rid of Distractions
Distractions pose real challenges for both office and remote workers. One survey concluded that remote employees lost 27 minutes per day due to distractions compared to 37 minutes office workers lost.
Distractions come in many forms, including phone calls, text messages, social media, and noisy neighbors. While keeping these disturbances at bay can be a hassle for remote employees, there are things you can do to stay focused. These include setting up dedicated office space and staying away from areas that could distract you, like the bed or couch.
Post your schedule on a whiteboard, and cross tasks as you complete them. Even dressing up as if you were going to an actual office can help maximize your work-from-home productivity.
11. Create and Stick to a Clock-Out Ritual
We understand that you have a busy schedule, and you don’t want to carry forward tasks. However, overworking can lead to burnout and stress, which will harm your productivity. That's not all. You will be putting your mental and physical health at risk.
Most work-from-home professionals find it hard to clock out at the end of the working day. This is largely due to failing to define clear boundaries between work-life balance. If you're struggling with this, here are three tips that you could try:
- Compartmentalize the 'end of your work day' – Visualize the end of your workday as if you're putting something in a box, literally or figuratively, and locking it. If your office desk has a drawer, put all your working tools in it and lock it. This will signal your brain that you’ve clocked out of work.
- Announce the end of your workday – By saying out loud that you’re finished working for the day, your mind registers the sentiments and reacts by switching to relaxed mode. You can announce this in front of your family or simply say it loud enough for your ears.
- Call it a day – Set up a non-negotiable time when you must shut down everything. Think of this time as a “force-quite” autonomous command that, no matter what, has to happen. You can set an alarm to alert you when the time comes. Your brain will soon adapt to this routine and will automatically shut down when the alarm goes off.
It’s Time to Implement These Tips
Not all productivity tips will work for you. We hope you find at least three that will help boost your performance while working from home. Remember, getting enough rest is the secret to staying productive no matter where you work.
Additionally, to successfully work from home, you need the right tech. We are not just talking about laptops, the internet, emails, and spreadsheets. You need a project management tool to help keep track of your work schedule and eliminate time wasters.
Nothing does this better than Traqq. You know what the best part is? You can download it and access all its features for free!