5 Tips For Being Productive When Working From Home
Working without distractions, having the freedom to choose your own hours and cutting out all commutes are just some of the benefits associated with working from home. It’s not all sunshine and roses however; it is a very different discipline to working in an office and it takes a while to settle in to a new routine. Most people who haven’t experienced it have a totally misguided view of what remote work is like (Crawling out of bed at 10am and eating Cheerios in their underpants whilst watching daytime TV and occasionally glancing at their laptop).
I began working remotely for the first time at the beginning of 2016. Based in Dubai, with the bulk of the team 12 time zones away in San Francisco, it was a somewhat of baptism of fire. The first few months were filled with bouts of productivity mixed with spells of complete inactivity. Though nobody really talks about it and everybody wants to portray themselves as a Gary Vee-esque 18/7 hustler, it happens to everyone at first.
Thankfully, there are a few actions you can take to make it a bit easier. I made all of these mistakes myself and can personally vouch for the productivity increases associated with each of the five points below.
Treat Your Workspace Like An Office
This had the biggest impact for me. During my first few months working remote, I typically worked at my dining table and even sometimes on the sofa (ridiculous). After realising that this was not the future, I bought a desk, monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse etc. and set up a dedicated office space at home. Having a setup like this allows you to fully associate this area with working and it makes it a lot easier to avoid distractions. I’m not lying when I say that my productivity doubled from this change.
Get Ready For Work As Normal
The most jarring thing when you start working remote is that you don’t have to interact with anyone in person during your working day. At first, I found myself getting up and putting on lounge wear to catch up on critical work for an hour or two before showering, eating breakfast etc. Big mistake - it completely messes up your day. It is essential to think of your working day the same as you would when going to an office by getting up at the same time, showering, shaving etc. and dressing for work. ‘Dressing for work’ doesn’t mean putting on a three piece suit, but if you wear the same lounge wear that you associate with relaxing in on a Sunday morning, it makes it very difficult to motivate yourself to do anything other than lounge!
Work Regular Hours
One of the most appealing things about working remotely is having that flexibility to choose your own working hours. That being said, in my experience it is best to try to work regular office hours whenever possible. If you take a two hour break in the middle of the day to go to the gym or get a haircut after lunch, it can be very difficult to get back into a normal rhythm afterwards. It’s very tempting sometimes, as the gym / barber etc. will be empty and you’ll feel as though you are saving time overall, but productivity usually suffers as a result. Aiming to work from 8:00am to 5:30pm is a safe bet.
Set Very Clear Daily Goals
Though you might have KPI’s or be in regular daily communication with the rest of your team, there will be nobody watching over your shoulder when you work from home. Self motivation is very important in an office, but it is a deal breaker at home and if you can’t complete tasks by yourself, you will get found out very quickly. I have found that setting weekly goals and then setting daily goals tied to these at the end of each day (for the following day) is a good way to keep on track. In a remote team environment, sharing these goals daily is a great way to keep everyone accountable.
Mix Up The Location
Up until very recently, I worked from my home office exclusively and never really entertained the thought of coworking spaces or setting up in a cafe. My thinking was that I had a better setup at home (monitor etc.), but after making the transition to spending 2-3 days each week doing this, my productivity has increased drastically. Spending an entire week in a home office by yourself can be bleak and just getting out for four hours to a cafe a couple of times a week can have a big impact. I recently bought a Roost stand which really helps to make a coworking setup as comfortable and ergonomic as your home setup might be.
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