Working from home may feel like a great opportunity or a daunting idea. Either way, it can increase productivity and improve our work-life balance when planned properly. Planning for success means establishing the proper routines and balances to avoid lack of motivation, personal distractions, and feelings of aimlessness. The good news is that it can easily be done with some rigorous scheduling and self-discipline, so here are some tips to plan remote work in a way that will increase your productivity and overall satisfaction.
Have a dedicated work space
Whether it is a home office or a specific part of your dining table, having a dedicated work space is essential to successfully work from home. Set aside the area that suits you, and only allow work-related activities to happen in that space. Ensure your work space is away from distractions such as TVs, and also check that it is comfortable enough to spend long hours at. For instance, it may seem acceptable to work from the couch, but not only is it likely to be close to a TV, it will also have a negative impact on your posture and potentially lead to musculoskeletal problems. Get a comfortable desk and chair and use it to draw the line between ‘home’ and ‘work’. This will also help avoid scattering your work around the house and ensure you stay organised. Personalise your work space with personal touches such as pictures, artwork and other decorations to boost your mood.
Ensure you have the right equipment
The biggest difference in productivity comes from your equipment and how suited it is to your needs. You might find a double monitor setup helps you work faster, or a proper filing system helps you stay organised, or perhaps a printer helps you re-read documents and review details more effectively. Things to consider also include internet speed and storage capacity. Everyone is different, and having your setup in a way that suits your own personal needs will help you avoid frustration and increase your productivity.
Get up and get dressed
Much like your work space should be reserved for work, your bedroom should be a space for relaxation and sleep only. Resist the urge to stay in your pyjamas and work from your bed. Get up, have a shower, get dressed and work from your dedicated work space. Being scruffy and wearing lounge-wear affects our mindset and performance as our brains struggle to adopt a professional mindset in such circumstances. Therefore ‘dressing for success’ really is a thing when it comes to working from home – and while you do not need to put on a three piece suit, wearing fresh daytime clothes everyday will help you maintain a sense of purpose and enhance your levels of motivation and productivity.
Create a tasks calendar and stick to it
Create a work calendar to know what to focus on each day and stay on track with your work. Arrange your tasks in order of priority and cross each element off as you work through your list. Make sure your day is filled with concrete tasks and even pencil in break times to ensure your day is structured. This helps avoid procrastination and feelings of aimlessness. A good way to structure your list is to spend the first 15 minutes of your day creating a priority list and reading emails to add any additional tasks that may have arisen. Additionally, consider your natural energy and mood throughout the day. For instance, plan creative tasks in the morning if you tend to feel less creative in the evenings.
Steer away from social media
A quick scroll through social media can unintentionally turn into a major waste of time. Therefore, the key is simply to set specific social media times and avoid temptation outside of the time brackets established. You may use these times as rewards for achieving certain tasks, but ensure you constrain your scrolling periods to a few minutes only (with a timer if necessary). If self-discipline isn’t enough to keep you away from scrolling during work hours, there are plenty of apps that can restrict your access to social media according to blocked times set by yourself.
Know when to clock out
Working from home is commonly expected to go hand in hand with better work-life balance. However, not having the geographical distance between work and home can make it difficult to switch off, meaning less downtime and a reduced social life. While it may be tempting to rearrange your hours and squeeze in some extra work here and there, you should stick to a predetermined set of hours to remain productive and have a more balanced schedule. Know what time you should start and finish work, and stick to these just like you would if you were going to the office. Staying on schedule helps separate work and personal time, which is essential to avoid feeling overworked and overwhelmed.
Take regular breaks
Working non-stop all day isn’t healthy and has a negative effect on our productivity and morale. Taking breaks is important as stepping away from our screens helps us re-energise and refresh our minds. Aim to step away from your desk every hour for a quick walk or coffee. Having active breaks that get your body moving are highly recommended as working from home puts our physical health at risk due to the lack of movement, particularly as you do not need to walk to the office, to meetings, or out to lunch. So give your brains a break for a mental boost, and get active where possible to keep your metabolism going. And most importantly make sure these are scheduled and timed to avoid getting off-track with your work.
Working from home can leave us feeling a bit lonely. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stay in touch with other people whether it is through calls, texts, chats, video calls, emails or any other method. It is recommended to communicate using multiple channels as sometimes written communication isn’t enough and it can make a difference to hear or see someone. Human interaction is a basic emotional need that can easily be neglected when working from home, so make sure you add social time in your schedule and interact with at least three different people each day – ideally with colleagues who are also working from home to support each other. This will help you feel more connected and therefore less isolated and lonely.