Working remotely or working from home has become a great alternative to work in the office from 9 to 5. Whether you’re a creative writer or designer, doing freelance work or an outsourced HR support, doing administrative tasks, this kind of work setup saves time, energy, and money while maximizing productivity.
You can do your job without leaving your comfortable home, following a strict dress code, enduring an exhausting, time-consuming commute, and dealing with too much micromanaging from your bosses. Win-win situation, right?
However, all those advantages may come with some difficulties which may lead to mental fatigue and a decline in productivity. You tend to lose focus since you’re too close to all the distractions of your home life. You may also get sick of not being able to socialize and go outdoors.
To make sure you stay productive (and sane) when working from home, here are some handy tips to follow.
Nine steps to Stay Focused and Productive When Working From Home
1. Set realistic work hours
Make sure you’re not spending all day and all night at work. Designate your start and stop time.
You can set a straight 6-9 hours working shift or break up the day into chunks. Whatever that is, it should suit your working and living schedule and should be aligned with the needs of your boss and the HR department. Treat them as your timecard and try not to plan long lunches or personal appointments during these hours.
2. Create a plan
Kick-start your day with a written agenda. Having your work tasks written down will help keep you stay focused when distractions present themselves.
If you tend to get overwhelmed, we suggest using a calendar instead of writing a detailed to-do list. A to-do list may set inflexible limits which may take a toll on your focus and creativity. A calendar, on the other hand, gives you a more relaxed schedule. It helps keep you on top of your work by reminding you of your deadlines while keeping you flexible.
3. Designate a home office
Isn’t it harder to concentrate when you’re working in the living room while someone’s watching Netflix or when you’re sitting on your bed where you can easily fall asleep? You’ll be more productive if your workstation is as separate as possible from the rest of your comfortable home.
Create a small home office, with a decent desk, comfortable chair, and enough room for file storage and stationeries. Train your brain to treat the area as a spot where your job happens.
4. Create a productive working environment
Next to drawing the line between “home” and “office”, make sure your working space creates a positive and productive environment. Here are some tips:
- Your workstation should be situated in a quiet part of the house
- Your desk should be organized
- Display artworks that inspire
- Place plants to add life to your workstation
- Allow more natural light and fresh air into the room
- Invest in a comfortable ergonomic chair
- Sign out of your social media accounts and other online distractions.
5. Go outside, please
One of the most common pitfalls of remote work is the idea that we need to be always available. Doing so, however, can lead to major stress and even burnout. If you’re working remotely, make sure to take the time to go outside. Get some fresh air and sunshine.
We’re not promoting procrastination here. Rather, we’re encouraging stepping away from the screen and strolling around the block to get the blood moving, help reduce overwhelm, and even spark creativity and great solutions to current problems.
6. Try working in a different place
If you feel like you’re stuck in one workplace, you’re doing it wrong. Remember: As long as you have your laptop, files and tools, and you know your deadlines, you can work anywhere, at your own pace and time. If you think you’re not productive at home, you can take your work in a coffee shop, restaurant, or park.
7. Connect with your team
Don’t just work all day all by yourself. Develop relationships with your colleagues and check in with them from time to time. You may start a group chat via Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, and other messaging apps. You may also set up a happy hour after work from time to time. Getting yourself some human interaction both digitally and physically will keep you sane.
8. Voice out your expectations
Let your family and friends know about your business hours and ask them to leave you alone during these periods. You may also make rules and regulations.
9. Don’t forget to log off
Conversely, you should also set a schedule for personal time and recreation and refrain from doing work during these hours. Once you’re done for the day, step away from your workspace and log off. Spend time with your family, eat out, do art, sleep, and do everything that’ll make you happy.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a creative writer for HR Dept Australia, a provider of affordable and pragmatic HR services and employment law advice in Australia. Writing about helpful career management solutions for both employees and employers is her cup of tea.