Tips on Maintaining Productivity when Working from Home

Author Pearce Doorley
April 11, 2020

During the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies are suggesting—even requiring—that more employees now work from home, and unfortunately, with uncertainly surrounding the virus, for some, working from home may become the new norm.

However this doesn’t mean you should relax with your workload, being constructive and forward-thinking is more important than ever. Working from home has its benefits, like avoiding your daily commute. But it also means it’s up to you to motivate yourself and get as much out of your time as you would in an office setting.

For many, remote work is a new reality and one that takes some getting used to. Working from home can be a lonely enterprise in this era of social distancing, but it doesn’t have to be, and for those who are not used to working at home or who don’t have an organised work station, distractions can disrupt your productivity.

Or on the flip side, maybe since being at home 24/7, you find yourself toiling overtime on the job long after you usually would have called it quits at the office.

On top of it all, cabin fever could be sneaking up on you.

To help, here are some tips to keep yourself motivated, accountable, collaborative, and productive as you work from home.

  1. Get ready for the day
  2. Create a designated workspace
  3. Structure your day
  4. Create a process for collaboration
  5. Set boundaries
  6. Avoid Cabin Fever – Take breaks

Get ready for the day

When you work in an office, the daily routine of your morning commute, coffee, and interactions with co-workers, helps your brain get ready for the day. At home, however, it can be slighter more difficult to find the motivation to transition from your bed to computer.

Set your alarm as you would normally, get up, get dressed, have breakfast, go for a short walk and then dive straight into your work.

Created a designated workspace

Whether you have an office with a door you can close or just a small work corner in your kitchen, be sure that the area is designated as your professional office space, you don’t want to be slumped over on the couch, or sitting on the floor.

If you have the means, set up a proper desk space with a monitor, mouse, keyboard, notepad, and phone. Try to mimic a similar set up to the one you have in the office. Ensure that your chosen workspace is organised and has good lighting. Since you will be spending many hours in your workspace, make it comfortable and appealing.

A dedicated workspace allows you to focus on work and cut down on distractions.

Structure your day

Remote work requires a schedule much like a typical office job.

In the office, our day is broken up by meetings, lunch breaks and general interactions with co-workers. Use your calendar to schedule your day, create deadlines, set daily goals and reminders for you to switch tasks or take a break.

A simple to-do list can do wonders for keeping you both organized, motivated, and productive as you work from home. As you create your list, think about big, long-term goals, like finishing a project, as well as small goals, like completing tasks that lead to that big goal. Checking off those smaller goals lets you know you’re making progress, which gives you positive reinforcement throughout your day. And work feels much more doable when it’s not all one giant task.

Create a process for collaboration

Working from home might seem like a solo experience, but it usually still involves interacting with others, whether it’s meeting with your team, making decisions, or giving and receiving feedback. So it’s important to set up methods for collaboration while you work remotely.

While email can be effective for making an official decision or passing on information, people’s inboxes can get clogged up quickly.

Talking online face-to-face can help collaboration. Videoconferencing is a great way of having regular check-ins with your team. This can help you stay abreast of what others are doing, and also help everyone keep up a rapport that might otherwise go neglected from not sharing a workplace. For more details on video-conferencing check out this post.

Set boundaries

When you live in your office it can be easy to overwork, get distracted and lose track of time. To ensure you are getting your work time and living a balanced lifestyle right, it is important to set boundaries.

Family and friends may often think that because you work at home, you are always available. Explain to your friends and family that working from home carries the same responsibilities as working in an office.

When you work from home, you may be tempted to check work-related emails at all hours of the day and night. However, having allocated “office hours” at home can help clarify what is acceptable during those hours. Make sure you switch off your computer at a sensible time.

Household chores, friends visiting for coffee, and errands, should be activities that happen before or after work. This boundary will allow you to focus on work during working hours.

Avoid Cabin Fever – Take breaks & Stay Fit & Health

Taking a break while you work may sound counterproductive, but regular breaks actually help you focus on your work more than you think. Short breaks to eat a snack, stretch or go outside for some fresh air will likely refresh you so you’re ready to focus when you return to work.

Your daily steps are about to drop significantly, and you are meters away from a fridge full of goodies so it can be fairly easy to become lethargic and put on a few kgs. Stay fit and healthy by incorporating home work-outs, walks or yoga stretching into your scheduled routine.

Whilst working from home can bring new stresses, it also brings new opportunities. Start putting these tips into practice now to help you increase your productivity and to help you stay focused on your job whilst you work from home.

For more information please contact Pearce Doorley or one of the Carter Murray team