Working from home is great for some as it eliminates the daily commute and allows for more flexible hours. Healthier lifestyles are more prevalent with work from home careers because exercise before work is possible when you aren’t leaving home in the dark to commute.
While some relish the ability to work from home during this quarantine, others find it difficult to maintain their work-life balance. Others find the distractions of family members, or uncompleted chores an impediment to getting their work done while working from home.
Here are tips to improve productivity while working remotely:
1. Maintain a Schedule
When commuting to work, we have a routine and maintain a schedule. Working remotely is more productive and less stressful when you maintain the schedule you had when you were in the office. Without the commute, however, you have extra time where you can exercise, eat breakfast, meditate or do some other task you normally would not have time for because you were commuting to your office.
2. Keep a To Do List
Let’s face it. Sometimes life at home can be filled with chaos and disruptions to our workday. That is life in quarantine. How can you keep on track and ensure tasks do not fall through the cracks? We recommend that you keep a to-do list and a work journal.
Every morning, check your list from the prior day or week. Items not completed or in progress should be added to your work list for your current day and week and marked as “in progress”. Note where follow-ups are needed. To this ongoing work list, add the tasks you need to complete today, or this week. Keep notes on what has been completed on each task, what information you are waiting for and from whom so you know who to follow-up with and when that follow-up should occur. Calendar these follow-ups on a personal calendar. Note due dates and priorities.
When working from home, you need to keep written records of the tasks you need to complete, their deadlines, and where in the process you are each day. If you get into the habit of making these lists, and keeping them in one written journal so you can find this information easily, you will be able to look back on notations you have made previously, and you will find you have fewer tasks fall through the cracks.
3. Eliminate Distractions
We it is hard to eliminate distractions when working from home, especially when other family members are home too. However, to ensure the quality of your work does not suffer, and that you complete the work required of you, having distraction free time during the day is imperative.
If you can, have a place you can be alone for an hour at a time and when in that time and space, devote 100% of your effort to a single project. No checking emails. No accepting calls. Just work on the task. After an hour, take a short break. During those 10-15 minutes, you can check your emails and phone messages, get a cup of coffee, etc. However, unless there is a message which requires an immediate response, make a note in your work journal of the replies you need to handle and schedule one time each day to send those responses or return those calls. Then, get back to the project in your distraction free space for another hour. You may find this one hour on, 10-15 minutes off throughout the day will enable you to get your projects completed more quickly while still having time to handle those other tasks which were distracting you throughout your day.
Some individuals thrive working remotely, while others find it extremely difficult to be productive when out of the office. Keeping a work journal with notes on the status of items on your to do list will streamline your efficiency. Finding a space where you can work without distractions will help you complete projects more quickly. Maintaining a schedule will help you reduce your stress and help ensure your work is completed.
These are crazy times we live in. The above ideas should help you ensure that while you are required to work from home, you do in fact get your work completed while at home. You just may find that some of these ideas help you be more efficient when you are back in your office!