Over half of workers, globally, work from home at least occasionally. Working from home definitely has its benefits, no boring commute and working on your own terms- to name a few. However, it can be difficult to stay focused and motivated when it’s just you, your computer and the quiet hum of the refrigerator in an empty house. Alternatively, there could be a multitude of distractions if you live with other people, depleting your productivity.
In this article we outline some tips and tricks you can use to make sure you stay productive when working from home.
Set up a dedicated workspace in your home
The first step to being productive when working from home is creating a dedicated workspace. This can be as simple as having a corner in your house that's set up with a desk, chair, and internet connection. If possible, you should try to find an area with a door so that you can shut yourself away from distractions such as family members or pets.
A comfortable chair is important for posture as well as ensuring the desk has enough room for everything you need without feeling cluttered or overcrowded. Daylight is great for productivity, helping us feel more awake and improving mental wellbeing so, if possible, set up your space in a room with natural light.
Create a routine and stick to it each day
The importance of structure in your day cannot be overstated. You should create a routine that works for you and stick to it each day, week after week. Great routines will help you to stay focused and productive, but also help you unwind at the end of the day.
Work when you are at your most productive
The key to being productive working from home is knowing when you are at your most productive and scheduling your most important tasks during this time.
For example, if you're someone who gets a lot done in the morning but is less productive in the afternoon and evening, it's important to schedule the tasks that require long focus periods during your prime hours. If you get distracted easily, try planning out your goals beforehand and breaking them down into smaller steps so they're more manageable.
Keep to regular working hours
Whether you're working from home or in an office, it's easy to get caught up in the flow and lose track of time. When you're working from home, there are fewer distractions to pull your attention away from your work, which can make it tempting to squeeze in extra hours. But if you don't set regular working hours and stick to them, this will undermine your productivity rather than enhance it.
The best way to avoid this is by setting yourself a start and end time for each day. This will provide a clear break between when work starts and ends. A positive work-life balance is vital to avoiding burnout and maintaining scheduled working hours is key.
Make sure you take breaks
When working from home, taking breaks is important; if nothing else, it helps prevent burnout and exhaustion from setting in too early. Make sure you get up and walk around every hour or so. This can help improve your productivity by increasing circulation and giving your brain some time off from focusing intently on one thing for too long.
Even if you don't leave your home office, just going out into another room—or even just standing up at your desk—is enough to do something different than typing and virtual meetings. If possible, try getting fresh air by walking outside every so often; even just five minutes of fresh air can help reenergize us.
Turn off notifications for less important apps
It's tempting to leave notifications on for all of your apps, but this is a quick way to lose focus and get distracted. If you don't have a reason to keep the app open, close it and move on with your day. This will help you stay focused on what's important, rather than checking out the latest news or funny cat video when that focus could result in a more productive working day.
If there are some apps that are helpful during work hours that they need to be accessible at all times (like email), consider setting them up with muted sound/vibration notifications instead of full sound alerts. It may not seem like much now, but it can save you from being startled into losing concentration later in the day.
Only check email at set times during the day.
Take turning off notification further and set aside one or two times per day for checking emails. Be sure to limit yourself to those specific times. This will help you avoid the temptation of checking your inbox every time something new arrives. Remember to be clear about your availability when communicating with colleagues who may not be aware of your remote status.
Keep in touch with your team
Another key to staying productive working from home is regular communication with your team. Your colleagues can help you stay on track and schedule tasks, which will make it easier to manage your workload.
The best way to stay in touch is by video calling when possible, but if that's not an option, collaborative tools like Trello and Slack are great for sharing information about projects and organising your workday together. You could also try planning regular social activities like a virtual “coffee break” where employees chat over video conference or an in-person team lunch away from the desk.
About Harper Fox Partners:
Harper Fox Search Partners are a purpose led business, providing leadership talent and executive search solutions for the global energy, engineering, manufacturing, transport and utilities sectors. Get in touch today to find out how we can add outstanding value to your business.