Stuck at Home? 8 Tips for Improving Productivity Working from Home Remotely
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For most of 2020, people all across the globe have had to become telecommuters and remote workers for the first time. If you’re struggling with a new remote work situation, here are some tips and tricks for being productive while working from home (without burning out).
1: Make a Schedule (and Try to Stick to It)
At the beginning of the week or day, plan out a detailed work schedule like you normally do. One of the hardest mental tricks to pull off is convincing yourself that working from home is actually work. With no supervisor breathing down your neck, it’s very tempting to imagine that you’ve gone on a stay-cation at Hotel Not-My-Problem.
What’s needed is a swift kick in the time-management department. The night before, formulate a battle plan, and take advantage of time-management programs like this one from Poofhub.
2: Get Out of Your PJs (at Least Above the Waist)
Get ready for work, same as always. Once you’ve convinced yourself that you’re not on vacation, you need to dress the part. And in many human societies, people get dressed in the morning and cheerily head off to work. Except… when you wake up, you’re already at work.
Don’t fall into that trap. At least go for the bare minimum, the office mullet, business uptop and party downstairs. Experts suggest that it’s important to trick your brain into thinking you are at work. Trundling around in pajamas might be cool on Sundays, but not on Tuesdays.
3: Figure Out Your New Routine
You’ll have to play strange roles in a familiar setting. All the routines you’ve known, sometimes for years, have disappeared. While you need to stick to a schedule, it may not be the same schedule you had in 2019. Think through when you have meetings — do you need to reschedule some to give yourself a Zoom break?
If you can embrace the new, you might find that getting outside of your comfort zone could lead to new ideas and fresh insights. Being pushed into novel situations can yield unexpected results.
4: Give Yourself a Break
Sometimes working at home can leave you feeling you feel trapped. As the pandemic stretches on, workers are reporting high levels of burn-out. When the place where you work is also the place where you live, work life balance can feel impossible.
It’s important to go outside and get physical exercise. So when you’re working at home, to become more productive, take walks to break up the day. The physical and mental benefits of walking have been well-documented, and so grab your sneakers and start rambling. Just remember to practice proper social distancing!
5: Designate an Office Space
When you don’t normally work at home and suddenly you have to, finding the space for an “office” can become a real challenge. Twitter is awash in pics people have posted of desks made out of ironing boards and high chairs. How you pick your workspace can also help you divide your work life from your family life. If possible, make your office space different from where you relax — away from TVs or couches. Let family members know where your designated office space is, so they know that you’re in “work mode” when you’re there. The design of your home office can be key to your mental health as well. If you can, pick a quiet area with lots of natural light.
6: Communicate More
Working remotely means you might not have normal social touchpoints with coworkers. There’s no watercooler, after all! The key is to always be communicating, no matter what challenges you contend with. Managers will need to check in more often, yet at the same time, there needs to be more trust in employees to deliver. And don’t forget virtual coffee breaks. Even if you’re not a manager, check in with other members of your team and see how everyone’s doing. Keep an eye out for people who need extra help, like parents with young children, or people who live alone and might be lonely.
7: Find Ways to Focus
Working at home means there are more distractions than ever — and no one else in the office who will know if you take a video game break. But there are some tricks you can use to keep focus while working. The science of music has led to the curation of numerous playlists that will maximize your cognitive efficiency, based on decades of studies. And don’t forget to declutter and use the right lighting. Removing online distractions can also be key. Software like Freedom blocks certain sites like Netflix and Twitter for a certain amount of time, which keeps you from straying during the work day.
The Bottom Line
It’s possible to be productive while working remotely without burning out. These are tough times — and we need to support each other, cut each other some slack, and keep an eye out for anyone who might need a little extra help. By doing these seven things, you can help yourself stay on track.