The initial joy that remote work brings can evaporate shortly if we fail to manage our time wisely. The cosiness of our homes is a double-edged sword. After five months of our new realities, it is time to boost our motivation levels again and work productively from home. Do we need more discipline for work from home than in the office? The one curve at this time that we should not be flattening is the performance curve. Recently, we talked about the key tips for organizing a productive remote working environment.
Today, we are sharing our new finds on how to make your days efficient. And, at the same time, pleasant and nicely balanced.
1. Create Triggers to Give Yourself a Good Start
Connecting the one habit we enjoy with the start of the working day can eliminate the feeling of discomfort. Especially when the alarm goes off early in the morning. This habit could be anything from sipping on your coffee to listening to your favorite podcast or meditating.
Take your time and enjoy a particular activity before you position yourself in your improvised office. The significance of this action is majorly psychological. If we plan to wake up five minutes before the start of our workday and sit immediately at the desk, we might as well not even want to leave our bed in the first place.
Knowing that our day is starting in the way that we like gives us the well-needed positivity boost right from the beginning.
Take the first half an hour for yourself, just as you would on a normal occasion. Our minds get used to the routine we establish. This usually involves a daily commute, reading the newspapers on our way to work or listening to the radio/podcast. We might not pay much attention to the ritual itself, but it prepares us mentally for the start of a new workday.
The goal is to recreate that effect in the way that suits our current wishes. This, in turn, will set us up to work productively from home. Just as the work mode starts when we set our foot on the office parking lot, we should limit our leisure time in the morning and not prolongate. After all, the schedule is the key to a balanced day.
So give a working day a nice start, and try to get yourself in the right mood. A fair warning: don’t spend too much time on whichever morning activity you choose – keep it short and enjoyable!
2. Track Your Time
If remote work is not your usual way to the job, you might want to familiarize yourself with the exact way you function in this circumstance. Levels of our efficiency vary depending on the environment we are in. Therefore, the transfer to working from home might cause you to switch gears in completing your usual tasks.
During the first couple of weeks, keep track of what you have done and how long it took you to complete those tasks. Not only will you have a summary of the dedicated time, but you can try to optimize your future schedule. How? Simple! By knowing how long it takes you to finish your duties, you can plan your days more efficiently.
It is important not to largely cut your working day while at home. However, it is also beneficial to make sure you aren’t working excessive hours. Tracking your working time can help you establish a healthy routine.
Setting an automated tracker can help you with this goal. This way, you will be able to document any overtime you happen to be doing.
Our top picks for time trackers, among the other useful tools: Essential Freelance Tools and Resources.
It is also likely that your employer would be keeping up with your progress as well by estimating the time needed for you to complete the tasks from home. Why not keep yourself one step ahead and become aware of the time usage and possibilities for optimization? That gives a great opportunity to smartly squeeze some breaks as well! Remember, the goal is to make our days complete and well rounded – to finish everything, but still not end up physically drained.
It might seem like an odd idea to overshare just anything, but we promise this one is not what you think! Regular working hours involve much more than just your job tasks.
We spend so much of our time at work with colleagues, chatting and consulting, getting annoyed or laughing. Those little things are usually stripped from our day’s schedule in a remote working environment. Therefore, we might feel isolated from our colleagues and lose touch with the team. In that way, the regular work we finish during the day might seem harder than usual, as we lack those little social moments which make the time pass faster and in a more pleasant manner.
Make sure that the physical distance from your team does not mean that you are out of touch. It is a very good idea to double-check information with our workmates, consult frequently, and inform them about our progress and future tasks. Not only would we avoid overlapping and making unnecessary mistakes, but the realization that our team knows what we are supposed to do can only motivate us to finish the tasks on time and work productively from home. This also informs others about our schedule and availability.
Communication should not only rely on emails, as the image of an overfilled inbox does not excite anybody. Considering alternative solutions for communicating with our colleagues can bring many benefits that traditional email correspondence sometimes lacks. Some great collaboration tools involve Slack, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams, which are quick and easy ways to ask a question or post an update.
4. Be Careful How You Multitask
Getting a lot of tasks done at the same time always seems like a wonderful idea. Working from home creates a great environment to juggle between different assignments. If we by any chance mix those assignments with house chores, we might end up typing an email while slicing potatoes for our impatiently hungry family. To focus on our tasks is a prerequisite for working productively from home, and it might be difficult to do so when our professional and private life are organized in the same place.
Spurred attention can decrease our effectiveness and make us lose time in switching between tasks. The quality of both tasks could likely be damaged because we haven’t paid full attention to either in particular. Drawing precise lines about where our focus is going to be at a certain time of the day is crucial for preserving a healthy balance.
Overloading our brains makes us more prone to forget some of the goals we had set for ourselves. The realization that you forgot something always comes in an inconvenient time – and usually way after your deadline. It’s better not even to think about squeezing a couple of chores during your working hours – it sounds good until you end up being at your computer when it’s already time for bed.
Not keeping millions of tabs for occasional entertainment open on your desktop is also a great idea. Yes, close your Whatsapp tab. That social media platform as well! Not to mention that page with funny memes that you love. You will thank us later.
5. Communicate Expectations to Your Flatmates or Family
We understand that the people you live with still see your new office space as a part of their home. As a result, they might want to hang around in that room or pass by pretty often and chat. Our best advice? Give up on most comfortable places in your home, and try not to turn those into the office space.
Make sure your chosen work area is quiet and positioned far from the busiest part of the house. Your flatmates will be left with that space for leisure and be less stimulated to spend time in the office area.
Establishing some signals that you are in work mode can make busy days much easier. You can put your headphones as a sign that you don’t want distractions at that moment.
When you do get distracted, it is almost impossible to refocus immediately, as it takes some time for our brain to concentrate again. It might be a better idea to have that unpleasant talk about everyone’s expectations. This will help you to work more productively from home.
And don’t forget, this is a two-way street. By respecting the people you live with, keeping it as quiet as you can, you show that you are willing to do your part in making the process smooth and painless. That way, others are more willing to give you a hand and contribute to making a productive environment where it is pleasant to work.
Bonus Tip: It is OK to Disappear Sometimes!
We are aware that we dedicated the whole article to ideas to help us work productively from home. But yet, there are some days when we just wish for the slightest change of the environment – or to run away from home (including home office). It is possible on rare occasions, so when you can, grab your laptop, position yourself in the shade of an old tree, near the garden, or in your favorite cafe. Enjoy the murmur and the buzz of life! At the end of the day, you might just even come to miss the little quiet workspace you organized and return to it with more enthusiasm.