Increase Your Productivity While Working From Home
Many bosses have a negative perception of their employees working from home due to a perceived lack of productivity. I know an ex-boss from one of my previous banking jobs thought that. “How do I know you are actually working?” he asked.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, however, many companies have had no choice but to embark on WFH arrangements, no matter how bosses might feel about it.
It’s undeniable that working from home has its own set of challenges. If you don’t plan properly and self-monitor your productivity, it’s easy to get distracted looking at cat memes on the couch.
But as I found out after I started working remotely 3 years ago, it is possible to increase your productivity while working from home. In fact, I actually tripled my productivity.
I knew my productivity was tripled in a few ways. Quite simply, I completed way more work tasks on my list than I did before. I was able to focus better and the quality of my work improved, resulting in positive feedback from my clients. I was way less distracted and finished work earlier. Basically, I got more work done in a lesser amount of time, which is my definition of improved productivity.
Since working from home seems like it is going to be the new normal for many of us, here’ are some ways you can up your productivity while working from home too.
1. Work when you are most productive
Everyone has a time in the day when they work most efficiently. For example, I am a morning person, so I am most efficient and focused in the morning. But after lunch, I lose focus and get sleepy.
My friend, however, is a night owl. She works better at night and allows herself to wake up naturally without an alarm clock.
A great productivity tip is to find your most productive periods in the day and try to get your most important tasks and priorities done during those hours.
Work when your brain is at its peak productivity and rest when it starts to switch off.
2. Create a dedicated workspace and make it comfortable
If you’re going to be working from home for the long term, you need to create a dedicated space that is comfortable and conducive to working. Keep your home office set-up tidy and free from non-work-related stuff, and eliminate all distractions and clutter.
The reason for this is that the human brain needs familiarity and routine to be productive. Having a dedicated workspace can help you stay focused because you’re dedicated to that one spot, and you can get working without distractions ASAP.
If you work from your couch or bed, the body and brain isn’t in the right frame of mind to work. I also have plants around my desk as it makes me feel happy and calm. Do whatever makes you feel at peace. Calendars, stickers, pictures, whatever you want works, as long as it enhances your dedicated workspace.
3. Eliminate distractions
Planning ahead and getting rid of anything that will distract you during peak work hours will greatly improve your productivity.
Plug in to keep yourself from getting distracted by background noises
Find out your biggest source of distractions and eliminate or mitigate them. Phone, partner, pets; whatever it is, you need to be strict about it if you want to work productively.
For example, my boyfriend used to walk to my dedicated workspace (just a corner in the bedroom surrounded by plants) and strike up a conversation and offer me cups of tea.
It was a sweet gesture, but my brain is most productive in the morning, so I was wasting my most productive hours chatting about the weather and tea!
I told him not to disturb me any time before 11.30am, unless it was an emergency. Once he came to terms with the fact that tea wasn’t an emergency (he is Irish, tea = life), I started getting more work done.
4. Download productivity apps
A great way to reduce distractions is to take advantage of productivity apps. Some block the internet; others restrict your time on certain websites.
Some even track how much time you spend on your phone and on what areas, so you know exactly how much and where you are wasting time in your day.
5. Keep it professional from the belly button up
It’s easy to slip into a routine of working in your pyjamas or sweatpants. Comfort is important but getting dressed as though you are going into the office helps prepare the mind and get it into work mode. It also gets you into a professional, efficient state of mind.
Shirt on top, shorts below.
Image courtesy of Aisha Preece
Having said that, I also have a rule where I keep it professional from the belly button up. This means I attend Skype meetings in a full face of makeup and a work shirt… with gym shorts on. It helps me stay comfortable and the client is none the wiser.
6. Eat the frog first
Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Good ol’ Mark was right.
Difficult tasks are like large stones that you need to push away to keep going.
If you complete the easier tasks then move your way up to the difficult ones, you will lose energy and by the time you need to tackle the hard tasks, you won’t have the motivation to do so.
Complete the difficult tasks first and then you can move on to the easier tasks after.
This Is How I Tripled My Productivity While Working Remotely
Working from home and being productive is a fine balancing act. Working too much can be as equally unproductive as working very little.
It’s important to be kind to yourself and recognise that you are the single biggest source of your income and success. Often, we look to external factors to change and improve our lives when actually, the biggest factor that can change our lives for the better is our own minds.