Being productive whilst working from home is not something that comes to me naturally. The lack of the office environment, an abundance of distractions, and no supervision made getting used to this new way of working difficult for me. In my search for answers to this dilemma, I found out a number of useful things that helped me be my most productive self while working from home.
1. Create a Morning Routine
Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work occasionally is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you to do that every day is another. Do you have a non-work related morning routine that you do? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be reading up on the current affairs of the day.
Create a morning routine that ends with you starting work. I start every morning with a light workout. It helps me wake up both the body and the mind and afterwards I feel refreshed, energized and ready to start the day.
2. Maintain Regular Hours and Keep Your Focus
Oftentimes, I found myself working late at night to catch up on work that I was not doing during the day as I was distracted with some new thing on the Internet.
To help curb this, set a schedule, and stick to it. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to stop working helps maintain work-life balance. Installing an automatic time-tracking app, such as RescueTime, lets you check in on whether you’re sticking to your schedule. I’m sure we are all getting a bit stir-crazy being locked in our homes so we should take extra care of our mental well-being. Having a healthy work-life balance goes a long way. It also makes it easier to shift back to the “standard” office hours for when the circuit breaker is lifted and we all go back to working from our offices.
3. (if possible) Have a Dedicated Office Space
In an ideal world, we would all have a dedicated office at home, multiple screens, and two computers (one for work and one for personal use). However, the reality is that not everyone has a separate office in their home or multiple computers. Instead, dedicate a desk, a chair or even a corner only for work use. For example, when your laptop is connected to the monitor, it’s work time. When it’s on your lap, that’s personal time. You could go as far as partitioning your hard drive and setting up separate user accounts for work (both on your computer and your phone).
4. Use a to-do list
Having a strategic to-do list can make working from home much more productive. Some time ago, I came across a very useful rule for that – the 1-3-5 rule. In short, you will write down today I will accomplish:
- 1 big thing, takes hour(s) to finish
- 3 medium things, takes less than an hour to finish
- 5 little things, takes less than 30 minutes to finish.
If you can accomplish that list of tasks every day, you should feel comfortable logging off work even before the “official” end time of the day.
5. Schedule Breaks
We cannot function efficiently for an entire workday and trying to bruteforce it by clinging to our laptops for eight hours straight is, in the end, a futile effort. Give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. At the bare minimum, schedule yourself a full lunch hour and four smaller, 10-20 minute, breaks. Some of my colleagues take a break for an afternoon home exercise session. It helps take mind of work, release endorphins, and give an energy boost to last the rest of the day. One classic way on how to break down work into intervals is the Pomodoro technique.
6. Socialize With Colleagues
Disconnect and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts like me. Some companies actually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have scheduled chat meet-ups where employees can talk about common interests or play games. In Smartly.io, we play online board games or watch movies on Fridays and have a mid-week socializing lunch on Wednesdays that’s often spent playing Skribbl.io.
It’s important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included. Even if you’re introverted and don’t like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a chance and, for example, just listen in.
Hopefully, these tips will help you make working from home a bit easier. Oh, and if you have any suggestions for online socialising games (other than Skribbl.io), please share in the comments below.