More and more people are working from home under the current circumstances. Telecommuting allows them to strike a better balance between their work and personal life, providing more flexible hours and greater autonomy to organise their day. It avoids unnecessary commuting that saves precious time and it can increase productivity, reduce distractions and increase the level of job satisfaction. However, it can also become a great challenge for those who have never done remote work, since it involves taking on new responsibilities and demands being able to efficiently self-manage. Here are eight tips for working from home from Liberty Insurance to help you stay productive while working from home in this new norm.
How to be productive while working from home
Set office hours
Although it may be tempting not to set the alarm clock, if you want to be productive you need to stick to a schedule. Since you will be working with other people and you will have to respond to emails, be present in the corporate chat or answer video calls, it is important that you adjust your workday to your company’s working hours. Setting office hours will also help protect your personal life and prevent teleworking from ending up consuming every minute of your day.
Set up a work-only space
To work productively from home, the best thing to do is to separate work and leisure spaces. If you have an office, it will be easier for you to adapt and focus. It is important that you set up this space so that you feel comfortable.
Remember that working in a pleasant and orderly environment will increase your productivity. If you can’t turn a room in your home into an office, at least make sure to use a desk. Avoid lying on the sofa and working because your productivity will plummet as your brain will immediately associate this space with leisure and rest, disconnecting from your work.
Establish a work routine
Even if you have a home office, you should follow a routine similar to that which you’d follow if you were going to work. Don’t stay in your pyjamas all day. Getting ready and dressed as if you were going into the office will help your brain prepare to enter “work mode”. Organise a routine like the one you followed in the office: plan short breaks and don’t eat while sitting in front of the computer.
These little breaks are very important because they will allow you to get back to work with even more energy and fresh ideas. Avoid doing housework during the office hours that you have set because you will lose your concentration and work rhythm.
Plan priority tasks
Working from home is not the same as being in the office, where project managers usually have tighter control over daily tasks to ensure that nothing important has been left undone. To be productive, you must become your own boss, which means learning to manage your time and self-regulating.
Before starting to work, spend at least 10 minutes organising your day. Check what tasks you have pending and organise them according to their priority. Try to be objective and don’t plan out more tasks than you can do, because you will end becoming overwhelmed and frustrated.
Take advantage of your peaks in productivity
Your energy level, motivation and concentration will change throughout the day. When working remotely, it’s essential to know when these spikes in productivity occur, so that you can plan your schedule based on them. Most people are more productive in the morning, so it’s best to spend those hours on more complex projects that require more focus and energy.
You can spend your less productive hours on tasks that are more repetitive or that require less mental effort, such as checking work emails or planning tomorrow’s tasks.
Avoid technological distractions
When you work at home, no one controls what you do, so you can end up developing unproductive habits. To meet deadlines, you will have to impose strict discipline: avoid checking personal messages, browsing social networks or reading the news during work hours. Little tricks, like logging out of your accounts, can act as a deterrent and prevent you from logging in automatically.
You can also use applications to block access to social networks while you’re working. And if you want to go one step further, there are applications like Strict Workflow that allow you to create a blacklist of websites that you won’t be able to access from Chrome during the period of time that you specify.
It’s also a good idea to have a backup system of sorts when technical problems arise. There will be times when you have mac charging problems or your computer isn’t turning on. It’s important not to panic, especially if you have a deadline looming. Think about a spare laptop or using your phone to type up documents. When we hit technical problems, it can slow down our entire day, and computer problems can be rife on days when you really need to get stuff done!
Use time management tools
If you’ve never worked from home, the first few days you may have a hard time staying focused on a task, or you may find yourself being less productive than you thought. In that case, time management applications can become your allies.
Productivity applications, such as RescueTime or Harverst, will help you monitor the amount of time you dedicate to each task, so you can detect the black holes where the minutes seem to disappear into. You can also use timers like TomatoTimer to schedule blocks of time of maximum concentration with rest breaks.
Stay in touch with your coworkers
To work from home effectively, you must keep yourself informed about all the changes occurring in the company that may affect your projects. This means that you must keep in constant communication not only with your boss or the project coordinators, but with your closest coworkers as well.
This systematic contact will help you to better perform your duties, as well as to alleviate the loneliness and feeling of disconnection that you could end up experiencing when working from home.
How can you stay productive with kids at home?
If you have kids, working from home can be twice as challenging, as children are noisy and easily bored. Accordingly, you should rely on your partner to share the burden of childcare-related tasks. Consider a daily schedule, realistic and adjusted to your needs. Remember that it’s better to work fewer hours, but without interruptions to get the most out of them, rather than getting frustrated because you need to stop what you’re doing to continuously look after your children.
A good option is to wake up earlier to take advantage of those hours when your children may still be sleeping. If your kids are already in school, they will likely have online classes and will need to do their homework. You can take advantage of those hours to complete your job’s most complex tasks. Technology and video games can also become your allies. Don’t feel guilty for allowing your children to use them while you work.
If you live with other people, including siblings, parents or flatmates, it’s important that they respect your work schedule and don’t constantly interrupt you. Keep in mind that your brain takes an average of 23 minutes to re-focus and work at peak capacity after a distraction. So just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re available at home.
Remember that working from home can be an excellent opportunity to develop new professional skills that could be very useful in the future, as well as demonstrating your commitment, worth and dedication to your company.
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