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Top Tips for Staying Productive When Working from Home

Ella Webber photo
Ella Webber
17 March 2020

Something tells us you might have found yourself working from home for the indefinite future and, as a lot of people are slowly but surely finding out, it isn’t the breeze you might think it is. Wake up late, grab your laptop, and start tapping away from the comfort of your bed. If this was your first instinct too, you’ve probably found that this makes you really unproductive and makes you feel super lethargic. For all of us who’ve been working remotely for a while now, nothing’s really changed. We developed our practices and rituals for how to work from home ages ago, and now we’re ready to divulge our working from home tips for success.

It’s important to set boundaries when working remote, so as to avoid having your life turn into endless work and no play. Due to a certain pandemic, play at the moment is rather limited, but nonetheless it’s important to establish a routine. However, it’s substantially harder than you might think to force yourself out of bed when you’ve got nowhere to go, but essential if you aim to be productive in your remote work.


How to make working from home work

Establish a routine

The first of our tips for working from home effectively is to set up a routine you can follow. A good morning routine sets you up for a productive day of work. Now, everyone’s different and finding what routine works is as hard as sticking to it, but it’s the first step to adjusting to working from home. First, decide what time you’re going to wake up and stick to it. Make sure to leave yourself ample time to have breakfast and come round, as not following your schedule will do as much damage as not having one.

A nutritious breakfast is a great start to any day, and working from home isn’t any different. Working on an empty stomach will reduce your ability to concentrate and lower your energy levels- not ideal for maintaining productivity. If you can, implement some sort of exercise routine that you can do in the mornings. You hardly need to be head out on a morning marathon (nor can you right now 🦠), but some crunches and a couple pushups won’t kill you. It’ll make you feel refreshed and ready to start the day.

Create a workspace

Dedicate an area to your work and keep all work-related activities and objects confined to that area. Try to avoid your workspace until it’s actually time to buckle down and do some work, otherwise it’s very easy to find yourself doing work all the time (or none). Don’t work from the nearest viable seat, set up an area dedicated to working. An inconsistent workspace easily leads to inconsistent work, which isn’t how to stay productive at home.

A desk and a chair would be ideal, but there are no guidelines for how to work from home comfortably so find what works for you and do it. This may even be the time you adopt a standing desk and get rid of the ache in your lower back that’s been there since 2012- it’s entirely up to you. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to keep it contained and tidy.

Set daily goals

One of the best tips we can give when learning how to make working remotely work is to directly track your productivity. Set goals at the start of each day, rate them in terms of urgency and feel the immense satisfaction of putting a line through them once complete. A clear action plan is one of many great working at home guidelines, as it instils confidence in our task management and productivity for the day.

These goals are not a set of rules that must be followed, but more a guide to follow throughout the day. However, setting these goals isn’t instantly a recipe for success. Distractions are the biggest barrier when it comes to hitting goals, with 48% of people attributing their failure to hit goals to an inability to concentrate.

Image from Rescue Time

It would seem that nailing Step One and Two are the keys to getting stuff done throughout the rest of the day. It’s also advised that you only set an achievable amount of goals as overscheduling also prevents productivity.

Schedule and take breaks

Contrary to what you may think, working from dusk ‘til dawn doesn’t make you more productive. In fact, concentrating on the same task for a prolonged period of time has actually been found to lower productivity. Taking small breaks can vastly improve focus, as it allows us to unfocus and refocus our attention instead of slowly having our attention slip elsewhere. 

Taking breaks also allows us to psychologically detach ourselves from work, and enjoy some downtime. Allowing your brain and body to detach from your job’s stressful demands is essential for staying productive and motivated. Make sure to take your break in an area different to your workspace, as psychological detachment only comes from physically removing yourself from your work and tasks. 

There’s also a wrong a right way to take breaks, and you’ll soon learn what works for you. Taking intentional breaks are particularly effective, as it provides a sense of control and purpose. Not only do you know when you’re going to take a break, but also know what you’ll be doing with that time. It focuses your attention on something else, ideal when we want to maintain focus over time. 

Adopt some tools for remote working

The last of our tips for working remotely is to make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job. We’ve been working remotely for quite some time now, and have some favourites tools that we think are absolutely essential for successful remote work. However, of all the remote tools we use there are some that we couldn’t live without. 

Slack

https://slack.com/intl/en-es/


Slack keeps teams connected no matter where they are, with all the tools for remote work built-in or integrable into their services. It allows you to organise conversations by channel, has both group and one-on-one chat options, and allows file sharing with the rest of your workspace. Essentially, it’s WhatsApp with a tie on.

Zoom

https://zoom.us/


Zoom is a video communications platform that keeps teams together no matter where they are. The free option is ample enough for the average remote worker, with meetings capped at 40 minutes and attendees capped at 50 people. Share your screen on the call, send instant messages and host video webinars all on the same platform. 

Airtable

https://airtable.com/

Airtable is an all-in-one collaboration platform presented as a database-spreadsheet hybrid. It makes organisation simple, and information is accessible by all the team no matter where they are. It’s a powerful tool for customer relationship management and task management, as well as a great tool for project planning and tracking inventory. It’s super easy to use; great for those not used to working remotely. 

Wrapping up

Just like everything else, remote work takes practice to get good at. More and more workers are searching for remote opportunities, and more and more managers are opening up to the idea of having remote teams. 

Remote work is no longer just for coders and programmers, but also for marketers, designers, teachers and more. By using the right tools and setting up an adequate routine and workspace, you too can join the remote work revolution. Managers needn’t be scared their team will take the chance to slack off and employees mustn’t feel like they’re on there own. Teams are teams, no matter where they are.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our tips for telecommuting, and can now see yourself taking a remote position. These next few months will highlight the benefits of remote work and hopefully see a shift in the labour force long after life returns to normalcy. Don’t get left behind, remote work is a skill and now’s your time to shine.

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