Are you one of the millions of employees who have transitioned into working from home? If so, you probably realized quite quickly that, contrary to social media memes, it’s not all about binging Netflix and baking bread. Your employer still expects you to meet deadlines and exceed goals. The good news is, it’s not a difficult proposition. In fact, 77% of employees report being more productive when they work from home.
To successfully work from home, however, you will have to update your routine and find a new work-life balance. If you are new to working from home, here are some actions you can take to increase your productivity, efficiency, and overall satisfaction.
Begin with a Morning Routine
Having a routine that puts you in “work mode” is essential. It sends a clear signal to your brain that it’s now time to focus on work. The routine can be as simple as showering and eating a healthy breakfast, or you could decide to include exercise, meditation, etc. Whatever it is that makes you feel energized and inspired, do it.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
Even if it’s just a nook in your living room, having a dedicated home office will help you work from home more efficiently. Try to pick a quiet spot, away from day-to-day activities. Just be sure you have access to all the outlets you need to keep your technology charged. Keep necessary office supplies handy, so that you aren’t constantly stepping away. You can even post some motivational quotes to keep you inspired during your workday.
Establish Office Hours
Although having a flexible schedule is one of the biggest advantages of working from home, you should try to keep set office hours whenever possible. According to 33% of employees working from home, this is the number one way they stay productive. Of course, you can adjust them whenever you’d like, but try to adhere to your office hours. Doing so will let coworkers, managers, and clients know when you can be easily reached. It will also set clear expectations, so you won’t feel obligated to answer work calls, texts, or emails 24/7.
Prioritize Your Day
Every morning, prioritize your schedule, deciding what absolutely must be completed. Include everything you must finish that workday, even if it is something not work-related, such as a medical appointment. Then write out a list of your top five items, in order, and place it where you can see it. Knowing your daily goals will encourage you to work from home more efficiently.
When you are working from home, family and friends may think you suddenly have nothing but free time for them. Phone calls, texts, and invitations to lunch are a constant – even the occasional surprise visit. Make sure you set clear boundaries with them, so that they understand that you are unavailable during your office hours. Then enforce those boundaries. You can always catch up on your lunch hour, after all.
But Stay in Touch
When you are by yourself all day, working from home can get rather lonely. In fact, 19% of remote employees report loneliness as their biggest challenge when working from home. To avoid that feeling, make an effort to stay connected to family/friends. Make lunch plans, Zoom after work, or do whatever else you can to maintain those close ties.
It’s not always easy to concentrate when you are working from home. A load of laundry, a quick glance through social media, and suddenly the day is over. But to work from home efficiently, you must stay dedicated to your tasks. One effective time management system is the 55/5 technique. Set your phone or computer timer for 55 minutes, and dedicate that time to work and nothing else. After that time is up, you can use the next 5 minutes for whatever you wish… then it’s back to work for another 55 minutes. Knowing that a break is coming will help you stay focused and work more efficiently.
It is easy to lose track of time when you’re in the workflow. But breaks are a vital part of your day, too. 37% of remote workers say that taking regular breaks is the best way to boost productivity. If you tend to get lost in your work, set an alarm for your break times. And try to make those breaks both physical and mental. Walk away from your office area and refuse to think about work. Even just a 5-10 minute break will leave you refreshed.
Learn the Technology
Being away from the office may mean utilizing new platforms. If you want to be efficient, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with some of the more popular ones – Zoom, Skype, Slack, Trello, and Google Docs. There are plenty of free tutorials available online for all of these.
Connect with Coworkers
It’s not easy to be as productive when you feel isolated from the rest of your company. With the soaring number of remote employees, 2020 saw a 9% increase in Google searches related to “team-building.” So when you are working from home, stay in the loop by connecting with your office team. Emails are great, but a phone call or video call would be even better.
End with a Routine
How you end your day is just as important as how you start it. Don’t let “just one more” email or text spill over into your personal time. Pick two to three minor tasks that will mark the end of your day: write out the next day’s to-do list, stand up and stretch, put away your legal pad – whatever signals to you that you are done for the day. Then resist the urge to check through your emails one last time.
Working from home can be an incredibly satisfying experience – just ask the 99% of remote workers who would choose to continue doing so. The simple tips above will help you maximize your efficiency, so that you, too, may never want to go back to the office.
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