Are you living the dream of working from home only to find that your workflow is in a rut? Distractions, stress, and a lack of routine can make remote work a nightmare, especially if you’re used to more traditional employment. But before you start pining for the safety of the office, know that a productive home environment is entirely achievable for anyone, so long as you implement the right strategies and habits. So, whether you’re working remotely or freelance, here are ten tips to help you stay productive from home.
1. Designate a Workspace
Working from your coach may sound tempting, but it’s rarely conducive to productivity. Instead, it would be best if you looked to designate an actual workspace. Preferably, this will be an office desk with a decent chair, although a spare corner in the dining room or kitchen will do the trick.
The most important thing is that your workspace should be a distraction-free place free of clutter, with a door you can shut. Also, you’ll want to have everything you need at hand. Otherwise, you’ll only have to constantly get up to retrieve stuff, interrupting your productivity and taking up your time.
2. Create a Morning Routine
One of the biggest pluses of working from home is not having to hurry to the office every morning through rush hour traffic or public transport. Of course, you could use that extra time to snooze, but you might do well to use it to get yourself into an inspired mindset. Such might mean prepping a nutritious breakfast, brewing coffee while listening to your favourite podcast, exercising, or simply practising a little mindfulness.
Whatever way you choose to spend your morning, forming good early morning habits will help you start each day on the right foot. Over time, the results will speak for themselves.
3. Try Noise Cancelling Headphones, Music or White Noise
Do you like silence and stillness while working, or do you prefer some background noise? Whatever the case, optimizing the sound levels in your workspace to your preference will help you stay comfortable and focused.
If silence is what you are after, try purchasing a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. If you want background noise, a white noise machine may help, or you could play some audio recordings of busy places.
Music can also be a helpful tool depending on your tastes and preferences. For example, some find that a good pop or rock song helps psyche them up before they get to work. Others find that soft jazz or classical music aids concentration. Others turn to experimental soundscapes such as binaural beats that train your mind to focus better. And while the science is not yet clear on what exactly does and doesn’t help, don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for you.
4. Use the Pomodoro Method
Time management is crucial when working remotely, and you can use many techniques to monitor and use your time effectively. The Pomodoro technique is one of the most popular, and for a good reason. Here, you break your workday up into 20-40 minute sessions, with 5-10 minute intervals between each and longer breaks after so many sessions.
5. Set Boundaries
Working when you feel like it might sound great, but setting clear and well-defined work hours will help your well-being and productivity professionally and personally. Concerning your family and friends, it tells them that this is your time for work and that you are not to be disturbed (except for emergencies).
On the other hand, specify work hours and set boundaries with your employer or clients. Winding down and relaxing after a hard day is, after all, essential to staying productive and avoiding burnout in the long run.
6. Remove Digital Distractions
It is perhaps ironic that the same technology that makes it possible for you to work at home can also be a detriment to your productivity while there. The problem is that most of us don’t even realize how much of a time suck digital distractions can be. All it takes is a quick peek at social media or your email account, and suddenly you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole, and an hour of your workday is gone.
Even the exceptionally strong-willed among us can easily be distracted by tech. So, the best course of action is often to remove these distractions entirely. That might mean leaving your phone in a different room or logging out of your social media accounts. You might also try setting yourself a particular time each day to look at your emails so you aren’t tempted to look at them while working on other things.
The more difficult you make it for yourself to be distracted, the easier it will be to stay focused.
7. Develop Good Wellness Habits
Despite what some would have you believe, those working from home are often the biggest workaholics. Sometimes, however, this is to their detriment. As tempting as it can be to always go that extra mile, put in that extra hour, and work yourself harder, your productivity will only suffer if you don’t look after yourself.
Developing good wellness habits is essential to staying happy and productive in the long run. Such habits include:
– Taking plenty of breaks
– Spending time outside
– Getting regular exercise
– Eating nutritious food
– Drinking plenty of water
– Making time for friends and family
8. Make To-Do Lists (And Prioritize)
While you’ll hopefully be having regular meetings with your team, boss or clients, no one will be looking over your shoulder and keeping you on task if you’re working remotely. The only person who will keep you accountable is yourself, and you need to make sure you know what you’re doing each day to stay on track.
Often the best way to do this is to write yourself a to-do list each evening of everything you need to get done the following day and when you need to do it. This list should include any meetings or calls you need to make, but it should also prioritize tasks by level of importance. That way, you won’t get distracted by time-sucking menial tasks like checking your emails if there’s something more important that needs doing.
9. Take Time Off
According to some studies , remote employees are often less likely to take sick days or ask for a holiday. The reason is that many feel it will be frowned upon to take time off when they’re already home. But it’s equally essential for those working remotely to take time off as it is for those working from the office.
Working every day of the year will increase your stress level and decrease your productivity as a byproduct. Humans aren’t machines, and we all need some time to refresh, no matter where we work.
10. Stay Connected
Again your productivity is closely tied to your well-being, and forming connections and friendship is an integral part of that. Unfortunately, according to reports , nearly a quarter of remote workers say they struggle with loneliness, possibly due to the lack of casual friendships that offices naturally tend to foster.
But working from home doesn’t have to be lonely. The flexibility it offers can work to your advantage in this respect. But you have to be proactive in networking and forming new connections, and it’s essential to do this online and offline. That might mean joining a club, attending meetings, or simply getting involved in your local community.
Overcoming the Challenges of Working From Home
There’s little question that working from home poses a unique set of challenges. But if you stick to a routine, make time for your mental and physical well-being, and stay organized, you can make it work for you and thrive professionally and personally.