In this guest post, Co-founder and leader of Topic Insights Ralf Quellmalz discusses what remote workers can do to increase productivity working from home.
Since COVID hit the U.S. in 2020, more people have started working from home out of necessity. Experts predict this trend will continue even as life gets back to “normal.” While many people have enjoyed the benefits that come with working remotely, they have also had to deal with the challenges.
Here are some tips to help you increase productivity as you continue to work from home or start a new job that allows this option.
Tip #1: Create a Set Schedule
Just because you don’t have to “go” to work, you shouldn’t forget about getting ready for a job. Create a schedule for your day that works for you. While it may be tempting to stay in your pajamas, you’re probably going to increase productivity if you get dressed as you would if you were going to the office.
Some other tips to making an effective work schedule include the following:
- Set your alarm to get up at a reasonable time whatever that looks like for you
- Get dressed, not necessarily in a business suit, but enough to feel like you’re working
- Eat a healthy breakfast for energy
- Start work at a set time when you’re most productive, assuming flexibility from your boss
You may even want to decide on set breaks and an end time to help you create a healthy work-life balance.
Tip #2: Build Physical Separation
One of the dangers of working at home is that your work will bleed into the rest of your life. You may check emails (and answer them) during dinner, while you’re out with friends, or even when you’re hanging out at home watching TV.
You can also accomplish this separation with a designated workspace. Don’t work in front of the TV or while eating dinner. If you don’t have a separate room for an office, you can create a small space that is just for work, even if it’s a workspace in a bedroom or a closet.
Tip #3: Develop Mental Separation
Learning how to be mindful of whatever you’re doing is essential, but takes practice. When you’re at work, focus on the tasks you have to do. When your job is done for the day, turn it off in your mind and your devices. Just enjoy your time away from work.
Tip #4: Take Care of Yourself
Don’t give in to the temptation to work 24/7. Make time to relax and enjoy a hobby. It’s also important to get plenty of sleep and exercise. Eat healthy meals to stay well and have the energy to work and be alert.
Protect your mental health as well. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about what you can’t get done. Remember that you work to live, not live to work. Find ways to interact with others as a way of coping with isolation and loneliness that can be a part of remote work.
Tip #5: Develop Boundaries
One of the challenges of working from home is your friends and family not taking your work time seriously. You’ll need to develop boundaries of when people can come over or when you can chat with friends online or on the phone to increase productivity.
As difficult as it might be, don’t respond to texts or phone calls during work hours, except on breaks. At the same time, put your tablet away or stop reading business emails and texts when your workday is done.
Tip #6: Make Relationships a Priority
This tip follows along with several others in learning how to be present and focus your attention on where you are and who you are with. Since you don’t “come home” after work, develop the practice of setting aside time to be with your family or friends without the interruption of work.
Find special things to do with your significant other or the kids. It’s easy to say, “I’m with them all day” just because you’re in the same house, but you aren’t spending quality time with each other. Make time instead.
Tip #7: Stay Connected to the Team
As you work from home, feeling like a part of a team at work can be challenging. Make a special effort to connect with your co-workers. Many companies have their own chat or messenger app where everyone can communicate. Take a few minutes to say “hi” to your co-workers or to check-in. You could even organize an online happy hour after work where everyone can get together and visit.
Tip #8: Limit Distractions
One of the biggest obstacles to productivity is the popular comment, “It will only take a few minutes.” Whether checking your email, sending a text to a friend, or grabbing a snack, these distractions take away from your work. While the distraction may only take a few minutes, it will take you another few minutes to get focused again. The result might be 10 or 15 minutes lost every time you get off-task.
Tip #9: Dial Down Your Multitasking
For the last few years, multitasking has been touted as a desirable work skill. However, recent studies have indicated that people who multitask aren’t as productive as someone who sticks with one task until it is finished. The issue is that it takes time to turn your focus to another task, which is time lost from getting the job done.
Tip #10: Share Tasks
Remember the difference between staying at home and working from home. You still have a full load with your job, and you can’t be expected to do everything. Delegate household tasks to others who live with you, family, or roommates. Don’t look at asking for help as a sign of weakness. Instead, consider it an indication that you are an organized, productive person who knows their limits.
As remote work becomes the standard for many businesses, it is necessary to get creative in dealing with the challenges. If you are working from home or plan to in the future, incorporate these tips to help you be more productive and successful in your career.
Ralf Quellmalz is the Co-founder and leader of Topic Insights. Born and raised in Asuncion, Paraguay, Quellmalz is a graduate from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in both Business Management and Marketing. Topic Insights encourages subscribers and readers to embrace a beginner’s mindset — one where curiosity, gratitude, and a strong desire for personal growth guide us toward a life-long learning journey.
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