Jamieson Wright of 8×8 shares his advice for working productively from home.
New to Working Remotely?
When it comes to being productive in the office environment, there are many things competing for our attention: mobile devices, exploring social media, eating, or chatting with colleagues.
In fact, these non-work-related activities can consume over half the productivity of an eight-hour workday.
Maximizing productivity in an office setting is one thing, but now that most of us will be working remotely, it can be difficult to get into a productive groove.
This article is meant to help you discover tips and tricks to be productive when working remotely.
1. Take Care of Yourself
Getting enough sleep and eating right plays a huge role in your productivity levels. When your body is tired, your productivity levels are decreased drastically.
If you’re someone who often finds themselves staring at a screen hoping things get done, it might be a sign of exhaustion.
Experts suggest that adults get about 7–9 hours of sleep a night. Beyond getting a good night’s rest, eating right is also important.
Snacks like almonds, walnuts, berries, and avocados contain ingredients that are good for brain health.
PRO TIP: Use the time you’d normally commute to get some extra sleep.
If you’re already on a good sleep schedule – then get an early start to the day with a brisk walk and then get right to the computer. You’ll feel energized and ahead of the game.
2. Discover Your Ideal Environment
Your environment is the most important component when it comes to getting work done.
For those who work from home, it is essential to have your own designated workspace.
Separate your personal space and your working space.
Avoid placing your working space in your bedroom. Your bedroom is a room for comfort and relaxation.
This might sound like a nice idea, but you are more likely to be less productive because you’ll have the urge to fall asleep or get too comfortable.
PRO TIP: If you’re short on space in the main living part of your home, try setting up a funky work area space in your garage or basement (if they’re clean).
It provides that “start-up” vibe, that boost of self-confidence that you’re doing something great and can take on anything that comes your way.
3. Change Your Environment
Working in one place for too long contributes to a feeling of comfort that causes a decline in productivity.
Normally we’d suggest breaking the pattern and taking your work to another room or to a library or café.
But in the current circumstances, we recommend breaking your routine by standing up and going for a solo walk.
Just 10–20 minutes through a non-populated area refreshes your brain and gives your body a boost. If you’re not in quarantine, grab a coffee to go from your local café.
Just be sure to practice social distancing and not get caught up in too much socializing.
Remember – your priority is productivity and keeping yourself and your family healthy.
PRO TIP: If you do have the space, set up two areas where you can work and buy two power units for your notebook. These only need to be a table and chair in a secluded area (not the bedroom).
Alternate where you work by day or by morning and afternoon.
Having power units at each place just makes it easier.
It may not sound like much, but after plugging and unplugging 20 times, you’ll be happy to never do it again.
4. Find Your “Perfect” Time
Some individuals are morning people and they are more active in the morning than in the evening. Others prefer to work at night.
Timing is important when it comes to doing work.
You likely know the times of day that you’re most productive and it’s important for you to work at the time that is best for you.
Let’s say you’re more of a night owl, but you wake up early to do work. Chances are you cannot be as productive as you wish because your body is naturally resistant to doing its best work at that time of day.
PRO TIP: Sometimes it’s not your schedule that determines your productivity, but the rest of your family or housemates.
If you have a number of outbound calls to make, try to schedule these when your kids, spouse, partner are out of the house.
Set your calendar to be active during those times and inactive during peak noisy home times.
5. Create a To-Do List
Begin each day by creating a to-do list.
Having a list helps you feel more put-together and helps you to avoid feeling scattered and trying to remember your task list.
The practice of creating a to-do list will boost your efficiency, too.
When you cross items off your list, it gives you a feeling of accomplishment.
That feeling gives you more confidence, which increases your motivation to perform at your best.
PRO TIP: Make your to-do list the day before. This lets you end the day knowing your next day is planned.
Also, it provides closure and helps you get a good night’s sleep knowing you’re prepared and not behind.
6. Discipline Yourself
Our cell phones are one of the biggest distractions from getting work done. We’re all conditioned to check our phones whenever we hear a chime (even if the device is not ours).
To help avoid this, try putting your phone on Do Not Disturb.
If your mobile device does not have that option, turn off your phone instead.
PRO TIP: Incentives can be a great reward system.
Here’s one example: Set a timer for 25 minutes (or longer, if you think you can focus for more time).
During that time, avoid touching your phone or going on any platforms that might distract you.
Focus exclusively on your work. Once 25 minutes are up, set your timer for five minutes.
Those five minutes are for you to take a break and reward yourself for staying focused.
Doing this will not only allow you to recharge every 25 minutes, but it will increase your productivity levels.
7. Take a Break
On average, humans can concentrate for a maximum of 20–35 minutes or 90 minutes.
Our brains suffer from exhaustion when they stay focused for too long. This can drain your energy and decrease your productivity levels.
When taking breaks, do something that has nothing to do with your work.
Take a walk, watch a short video, stretch, go on a coffee break, etc.
If you can, take a 15-minute nap.
That’s right, naps are possible and are a great way for your brain to get a quick rest and recharge before going back to work.
PRO TIP: You can combine your change of environment, break and reward all into one big activity break or take little ones throughout the day.
- Three hours of work broken up into 25 minutes + 5-minute phone break
- One-hour lunch with a walk and perhaps a nap
- Three hours work broken up into 25 minutes + 5-minute phone break
- 30-minute walk and coffee/snack break
- Two hours of work broken up into 25 minutes + 5-minute phone break
- Done for the day – 8 productive hours!
8. Limit Your Social Media
I know this is a drastic one, but try to limit your social media to 5 minutes per hour.
Normally we’d suggest unplugging completely, but at this time we know many of you rely on social media for critical news updates in your local areas.
Please don’t get too caught up in these. Limit yourself because you do have a job to do.
PRO TIP: Remember, you need to be productive and get things done to take care of yourself and your family.
By working from home, taking all the necessary precautions, and keeping yourself productive you’re doing everything right.
You cannot stop what happens outside your doors, but you can stop this consuming your productivity by being glued to social media or the news.
Prioritize what’s important and what you can influence, and right now that is how well you perform under these not-so-ideal circumstances.
While there is no magical formula to follow when it comes to getting things done, there are a few steps that will help people to be more productive from anywhere.
We know that it’s difficult to find a routine when working from home or on the go, but we encourage you to experiment with our recommended techniques to find your sweet spot.
By finding your setting, timing, and disciplining yourself, you’ll soon find the perfect way to stay productive anywhere.