As the cloud has become commonplace in business and globalization ramping up, businesses with employees that work from home have become more commonplace. In fact, some studies have shown that working from home makes certain employees more productive. However, not everybody is used to being their own at-home boss. The remote environment, while beneficial in many ways, takes some time to get used to and leverage for complete efficiency and productivity. Here are five productivity tips for employees working remotely or from home.
1. Define Your Space
No matter what you’re doing, defining your work space is essential to productivity. If you’re working at home, you want to mentally associate one space in your house with work, such as your home office desk, a certain table, or even a whole room. Avoid working from your bed or bedroom, as it’s been shown that associating your bed or bedroom with work makes it harder to associate it with sleep.
The other part of defining your space is drawing territory. Your home office should be no-distractions, no-friends, no-family zone. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t emerge for air–on the contrary, take breaks often–but it does mean that the same types of distractions that would be shunned in the workplace should also be avoided in the home office, if you can help it.
2. Create Your Rituals
Creating rituals can help you subconsciously shift into work-productivity mode. Getting up, brushing your teeth, showering, and getting dressed can all set the tone for your day by subconsciously preparing you to get into work-mode. When I personally used to drive to work, I used that drive to prep my head–now I’ve ritualized driving to pick up coffee as my day begins, and getting to work as soon as I get back home.
While you want to make sure that you’re staying productive, you always want to make sure that you’re taking the same kind of breaks that you would at work. Also, just as important as starting your day, is ending it. Don’t work for longer than you’re scheduled to, and make sure you leave your workspace when the workday is over–it will help you de-stress and subconsciously exit the same work day you mentally entered.
3. Organize, Prioritize, and Finalize Tasks
Beyond spatially organizing yourself, make sure that you’re organizing your tasks as well. Interestingly, the same tips for for productivity at work should be adopted at home, but the difference is that YOU will have to be the person to hold yourself accountable instead of your office manager. University of Alabama-Birmingham’s tips for being productive at work hold up well for being productive at home as well, and it all comes down to approaching tasks correctly.
According to them, organizing and prioritizing your tasks will assure that you get the most important deliverables done without shirking your duties. Get them done early in the work day, avoid multitasking, and make sure that you create systems to streamline and accomplish rote and easy tasks. The worst thing about working from home is feeling like you haven’t accomplished the tasks you needed to–make sure that’s not you.
4. Know and Use Your Tools
The cloud has made it extremely easy for offices to implement unified communications solutions such as Slack or Skype, and other file sharing solutions such as Dropbox. Klaus Sonnenleiter, president and CEO of Franklin Lakes, told Inc.com that he believes important documents need to be uploaded into the cloud, that way “you can login from anywhere and never need to worry about having your files with you.”
Of course there are plenty of other tools that you can use that your workplace may not provide. Business author Cole Mayer mentions a couple in his article on Fiscal Tiger that the average remote worker could take advantage of, including Trello, Asana, Google Docs and Calendar, and even Excel for its ability to get almost anything done if you know how to use it right. For a more complete list you can check out CIO.com’s recommendations for tools you “must have” if you work from home.
5. Stay Active
Last but not least, make sure that you’re staying active. Just like your standard office job, stretch frequently, go on walks, and if you come a point where you’re feeling stumped or unproductive, maybe go on a run. Entrepreneur.com advises that you choose a good, ergonomic chair–or even ditch the chair altogether and invest in a standing desk.
Other pieces of advice would be to make sure you’re not getting up every hour to snack in the kitchen, but rather are getting up every hour to walk around, stretch, or do pushups. Staying hydrated will help suppress appetite if you are finding yourself tempted by the fridge, and it will also boost your energy.
While this list is certainly not extensive, following these tips will help you settle into your most productive self while working remotely from home. If you have any tips that you think I missed, please make sure to leave them in the comments below.