How to Be More Productive When Working from Home
It seems safe to say remote work is here to stay. While many companies are opening their office spaces back up—or at least some version of them—there appears to be a new mindset around what tasks are best accomplished where—home is for concentration, the office is for collaboration. With that in mind, how do we create an ideal space for productivity and focus?
1. Have a dedicated workspace
This can be difficult, especially since many of us might not have a room we can dedicate entirely to work. And if you’re living in a studio or smaller space, it can be a daunting task. However, for focus, it’s best to have a spot that’s set aside purely for work.
2. Dress in a way that works best for you
We’ve all been doing this awhile now, and you know what works for you at this point. The common advice is to dress professionally to signal to your brain you’ve entered work time. But that isn’t a rule, especially if it doesn’t work for you. If getting dressed in your old office attire works, go for it. But if you’re more productive in joggers and a t-shirt, that’s just fine. As long as you don’t have calls where you need to have a corporate look, whatever you’ve found works best for you, do it.
3. Don’t work too many hours
Yes, you heard us. Your productivity drops off the more hours you work. It’s bad for your health and your output. What’s the ideal number of work hours for health and productivity? Research says around 38 hours a week. It might not be possible for you to work a little under eight hours a day, but there are ways to build breaks into your routine. Take an actual lunch break, go for a walk, or spend some time journaling or writing.
4. Create a schedule, and stick to it
This one is good for productivity and good for work-life balance. It’s also good if you’re in a role where you’re communicating to different members of your team throughout the course of the day. Creating a schedule helps you allocate the right amount of time per task, and set up that time at, well, the right time. Consider when you’re at your best. Is it the morning? Block out your time where possible to use for tasks that require concentration. Then answer emails and schedule calls later in the day. If you can think better when your email is decluttered, schedule time to do that first thing.
5. Don’t get distracted
We know. Easier said than done. But this applied when you were at the office and is just as important at home. While the distractions may be different—are you remembering that open office environment?—they’re still there. It’s hard to get in the groove and stay energized if you keep getting pulled away. In the office your coworkers could probably see when you were deeply concentrating, but they don’t have that ability when you’re all remote. Block out time on your calendar for tasks, and do not check email, chat, or your phone while you work through them.
6. Separate long-term goals from your short-term goals and day-to-day tasks
It’s the time of year when many of us are having discussions about our goals for the next 12 months, so it’s probably already on your mind, but big plans can be overwhelming in the present. So, break down those goals into the short-term targets that will get you closer to your long-term objectives and combine those with day-to-day tasks that must be accomplished. Think of it this way:
- Essential tasks – these are the tasks you need to get done today
- Short-term goals – these are the tasks you’ll complete over the next weeks and months as you build toward…
- Long-term goals – these are your big objectives for the coming year
Most of us have been working remote, full- or part-time, for at least two years at this point. We’ve experimented, learned tricks for productivity, and figured out our own unique ways to balance work and home life. If you’re going to be remote for the foreseeable future, keep experimenting to find what works best for your productivity, mental health, and work-life balance.