On one hand, you can work in your pajamas and your commute is from your bed to your computer. On the other hand, it means that you’re surrounded by distractions.
With the COVID-19 outbreak impacting many workplaces, working from home is now a reality for most Americans. In fact, even after quarantine subsides, this will remain a growing trend in modern society. Companies like Facebook are trying to go more remote to save on overhead while simultaneously enabling employees to social distance from wherever they choose.
From people I’ve spoken to, this topic seems to be controversial. Those in favor see the inherent benefits of saving time and having a certain degree of comfort that doesn’t exist in an office space. In stark contrast, I know many people who seem to lament this concept. Many claim that they get too easily distracted and are unsure how to separate home from work. They feel more productive in the office than on the couch.
What if there were some simple things you could do to increase productivity while enjoying the benefits of working from home?
Here are 4 tips to help you do just that.
When I became a real estate agent and also a remote teacher (yes that existed pre-corona), I immediately fell in love with working from home–mostly for the wrong reasons. I noticed that I would stay up later, sleep until 5 minutes before work started, and answered emails while watching t.v. It felt like a vacation, but truthfully, I wasn’t nearly as productive.
Eventually, after the honeymoon phase had subsided, I came up with a plan to maximize productivity. Each day, I would experiment to see what worked best. What I found was that having a routine made a huge difference.
I began waking up at 6 A.M as if I needed to go to an office. At first, this wasn’t fun and it seemed like it was taking away from the vacation experience I’d been enjoying. Within a week or two, I was used to waking up early and had enough time to work out and journal before work even started. Another thing I started to do was change from sweatpants into more formal attire. I’m not saying you have to wear a suit or a dress, but psychologically, it helps your mind distinguish that you are no longer in relaxation mode, you’re in work mode. Almost immediately upon practicing this, I found myself more excited and mentally prepared for the work day ahead–or maybe it was just the coffee!
Create and stick to a routine. Within weeks, you will notice major differences in productivity.
If you have an iPhone, you’re probably aware that your phone gives weekly updates on your screen time. When I found that mine had increased from previous jobs, I knew that there was a problem: I’d become addicted to social media. I checked Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram constantly. Mostly just scrolling, but also getting lost in the rabbit hole of funny videos and seeing what friends were up to (clearly they were also distracted and would benefit from this post).
Being competitive by nature, I wanted to find ways to substantially decrease my screen time. The easy solution was to get rid of social media during the work day. Now, I literally delete these apps from my phone while working. It actually makes looking at social media more enjoyable when it is a reward for working hard, rather than just a distraction.
Be honest with yourself and get rid of your biggest time waster.
If you live alone, you can go ahead and skip this section. For those with significant others or roommates, this one is really important. As adults, we tend to be able to choose who we live with. I’m making a wild guess, but for the most part, I’d imagine that people like to live with friends, significant others, and family. All people we love and get along with. That’s great, but it can also be to your detriment when working from home if you don’t set ground rules.
Designate and/or claim spots where you want to work. Preferably, each person should have their own space to work rather than a shared space. Sitting next to a roommate will tempt you to get off task or simply distract you if they’re talking on the phone or doing something else when you’re trying to concentrate. It’s probably also a good idea to be in a room with a door rather than an open space like a kitchen where most people traverse at one point or another.
If you adhere to staying in a predetermined space, it decreases the likelihood of accidental or premeditated distraction.
Next, determine acceptable reasons to disrupt workflow. Maybe you have kids and need to take turns watching them. Perhaps you have a dog that needs to go out. In extreme circumstances, there could also be a legitimate emergency. It’s up to you and the people you live with to determine what the best reasons for disruption are. It should be very clear that these are the only reasons, not to chit chat or banter. Stick to this and leave the fun for after work or lunch breaks.
Being cooped up in an office space gets lonely. A great way to reward yourself for eliminating distractions while working is to set up lunch breaks with roommates. This gives you a chance to catch up, have fun, and also serves as a treat that you can look forward to throughout the morning.
When you work in the same place as you live, it’s easy for the two worlds to meld together. This can be extremely detrimental to your well-being if you obsess over your job. To limit your anxiety and enjoy your home for what it is, you need to be able to leave work at work.
Once the day is over, shut off your laptop and forget about it until the next day. Don’t try to get ahead, there’s always going to be more work to do after that and the cycle will just continue until you’re stressed and overwhelmed. If you work hard and stay productive during the time that you’re supposed to be on the clock, take no shame in relaxing or doing something you enjoy when the day is over.
By leaving work at work, you will release the feeling of imprisonment that so many remote workers face. Let go and enjoy your life outside of work. You’ll be all the better for it in the long run.
Each of these 4 tips works together with the others to create a variety of tools at your disposal to stay productive. By following these 4 tips, your work from home life will be far more fruitful. Which one do you think is most important?