“Home is noisy”, “There are too many people”, “I can’t work without my office chair”, “I need my team members around”, “Kids, parents, there are too many distractions at home that make it difficult to work.” These are some of the most common complaints of working professionals these days, as the coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to work from home.
Psychologist, Timothy Golden, Lally School of Management, New York says, “It’s not a time to panic, but rather a time to harness the lessons we have been learning, and to put them to good use.” Working remotely has its pros and cons. While one can capitalize on peak periods of focus and save time and energy lost during commuting to the office; it can even leave some stressed, unproductive and clueless. But when push comes to shove, we better get started with work. Don’t wait or look for the right work atmosphere. Create it. Here’s how you can stay productive while working from home.
A routine is a must and so is flexibility
Just like your work-from-office routine, remote work, too, can have a pattern. From waking up at the same time every morning to meal prepping to cleaning your work desk to dedicating work hours – following a routine can enhance productivity. Plan your day in chunks – a few hours dedicated to work, a few hours to family and home. But do not hesitate to flex when needed. Why? Because being too rigid may lead to unnecessary expectations and stress.
Having daily targets helps
When we have a clear picture of our daily goals, we can use them to keep procrastination and distractions away. Create a daily task list. Get a sense of the time required to perform each task on the list. Knowing how much time you will require for all the tasks in a day will save you from overcommitting. Confirm project deadlines with your manager and team members. Work toward daily goals.
Tune in to your body clock
Work from home gives you the chance to tune in to your natural body clock. Most professionals fall into two categories – lark (morning person) and owl (night person). Think about it, working from office hardly favors any of these two types of workers. Work from home is your chance to tune in to your natural body clock. Work in the morning when your productivity is at its peak if you please, or be the night owl that prefers working in quiet.
Work in bursts, induce flow
Ever heard of the term ‘flow’? Psychologists describe it as a state in which we perform at our peak. Studies show that if the duration of flow is increased by 15 to 20%, productivity could double. What does that tell us about staying productive while working from home? Induce flow. Minimize distractions. Set aside chunks of time, for example, bursts of one to two hours dedicated to doing just one task. Although this may be difficult to achieve for those who are new to working from home, try it and see the difference it makes to your productivity.
Communication is key
Given that we have a zillion ways to communicate, it should be the last of our challenges. However, communication requires being proactive, being available, approachable and having the right communication tools in place in your home. Research shows that managers who insist on face-to-face communication with remote workers have more successful teams. Experts recommend creating a plan for the frequency and mode of communication to get it right. Have video calls often, perhaps even daily.
Organize your work desk
Let’s face it – workspaces at home could get messy and cramped, unlike office desks. Studies show that mess can cause stress. When our minds experience more visuals – think things and clutter – they get more stimulated, fragment our attention, and prevent us from being relaxed.
Organizing brings us to over-organizing. Using different highlighters for different tasks, sticking post-it notes for every new task, managing a to-do list, a daily diary, an online calendar, and team productivity tools can overwhelm and tire our brains. The tip: neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says, keep it simple. The pandemic has put us all in tough work-from-home situations, but it can be tackled in simple ways.
Now we know, working from home is a unique skill. One that can be built with a little practice, a little flexibility, and some trials. Once that bridge is crossed, driving performance and success at work while having a desired work-life balance is a piece of cake. Make it work for you with these productivity skills.
You can read how we at Factsutite have made a number of changes to smoothly transition to work-from-home. Also, you can read about how leading organizations are managing the remote working situation in our previous blogs.