Love it or loathe it, remote working is here to stay. Since the pandemic, ‘working from home’ is now a term that everyone is familiar with.
For all the net positives remote working brings to the table, there can be pitfalls. Home might be a comfier place to work, but it’s also packed full of distractions. Whether it’s a mound of laundry just begging to be popped in the machine or your pet cat begging for affection, diversions are plentiful. Productivity can suffer!
With that in mind, we thought it’d be a good idea to pull together a few tips on how you can keep your productivity levels up when you’re working from home.
Been working in our pyjamas? We’ve all been guilty of this at one point! Sure, it might feel comfy and cosy, but it’s actually detrimental to your productivity. Psychologically, getting dressed into your ‘outdoor clothes’ can draw a line between your work day and your leisure time. Without that border you may find that you struggle to ‘switch off’ from your working duties. It can burn you out fast, leaving you dreading each workday morning.
Avoid sluggishness by getting dressed into a fresh outfit. It doesn’t even need to be appropriate office attire — just something you’d be happy to leave the house in. As Today notes here, what matters is how you feel. You’ll soon find that you’re able to settle into the groove of the day much more easily (and be significantly more productive). And when you have online gatherings with colleagues, you can dazzle everyone with your impeccable style.
Set a lunch schedule
Unless you live alone, there’s a great chance you’re not the only person working from your home. That might not be an issue while you’re in the zone, but the arrival of lunchtime can bring some major complications. You need to use the microwave. So does your housemate. So does another housemate. And each of you feels that your needs should come first.
Even more frustratingly, the mere anticipation of a lunchtime roadblock can ruin your morning, putting you in a bad mood from the outset of your day. This is why you should arrange a set lunch schedule covering everyone in your household (housemates, partners, and family members alike). You can microwave your soup at 1pm while your friend Michelle gets her toast to the perfect level of crispiness. Compromise is essential.
Manage this and you’ll have more time to put towards work tasks instead of tense hunger-fuelled lunchtime negotiations. If you really want to get smart about things, you can prep your meals in the evening so you’ll need less time around lunch. The result will be more time enjoying your food and decompressing from your daily stresses.
Lucky enough to have a garden? There’s no rule that says you have to work in a dark and secluded home office! Get outdoors for an hour or so and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. Yes, simply letting the sunlight hit your skin is enough to add an extra spring to your step. So, if the coffee isn’t quite kicking, maybe it’s time to work from the sun lounger.
Is the place you call home less sun-drenched and more rain-soaked? You could take a working holiday — but why not see if your employer is open to you working overseas on a full-time basis? Is this wildly drastic? Absolutely. But if you’re unhappy with your conditions, this is the perfect time to change them. Whip up a great pitch covering where you want to go, what you’ll achieve there, and how you’ll make it economical (this blog from Remote details how using an employer of record service can all but eliminate legal complications).
Feel the music
One of the best parts of working from home is that you own your working space (or rent it, admittedly). There’s no fear of annoying coworkers or irritating your boss. Use this to your advantage by ditching the headphones and filling your office with music. Play whatever suits the mood: soothing nature soundscapes for when you need to enter your flow state, or pumping electronica for when you’re aiming to fire through repetitive tasks.
Feeling lonely? Turn to the radio for some company. You’ll be surprised at how well the chatter from the airwaves can replicate the social buzz of the office space. Failing all of that, simply popping the window open (provided there isn’t skull-rattling construction work going on nearby) can supply a subtle ambience to your home office atmosphere.
Mix things up
Taking breaks matters. This really can’t be stressed enough! You may have noticed that you work harder when you’re working remotely, perhaps because you feel guilty somehow, as though you’re getting away with something. If this sounds familiar, get it fixed now. You’re likely getting just as much done as you would in an office. Cut yourself some slack.
If you’re struggling to tear yourself away from the desk, let us convince you: a 2013 study found that taking a series of ‘microbreaks’ throughout the day can provide a huge boost to your productivity. You could be nipping downstairs to brew a coffee, or taking 30 seconds out to finally provide the attention your Labrador has been begging for. These little breaks allow your brain to reset, declutter and then rev up to continue whatever task you’re working on.
The Pomodoro Technique takes advantage of this effect by encouraging you to work in short bursts separated by mini breaks. If you’re looking for something to help you adjust your habits, employing this method can lead to a vastly-improved remote-working experience. Take a look at the step-by-step guide here.
Use these tips and we’re sure you’ll stay on track. Being productive while working from home isn’t easy, but hopefully we’ve given you some good starting points to fix yourself up with a good routine. Then again, if you’re struggling, you could always head back to the office!