The number of people working from home has exploded this year. Some have relished the new way of working and believe they’re far more productive than working from the office. But for others, they’ve struggled to be productive. The distractions, loneliness, lack of accountability can make it difficult for some.
Here are some tips for improving your productivity while working from home.
#1 Keep Set Hours & Single Tasking
You may work flexible hours at home, but this can lead to feeling like you’re always working or thinking about work. By sticking to your old hours, your brain can click in and out of work mode more easily.
It’s easy to feel sluggish working from home because you haven’t had to get ready to leave the house and you didn’t get in a little exercise walking to the office. If that’s the case, try to go for a walk before you start work in the morning and keep moving during breaks.
Some people are working more hours at home than they did in the office. By working in blocks, you can structure your day, so you achieve the tasks you need to get done. Time blocking also encourages single tasking. You might feel productive while you’re multitasking, but tasks often take longer, and it reduces the quality of work.
#2 Have a Designated Space
Sitting at the kitchen table or on the lounge is not only an ergonomic disaster, you’re making it hard for your brain to realise it’s time to work, not time to relax. The ideal situation is to have a separate study that allows you to close the door on work, but if that’s not possible, try to dedicate some space in a room that is your work-only area. When you’re there, you’re working.
Make sure you have an ergonomic office chair that can be adjusted to suit the height of your work surface and your body shape. A poor work setup that’s uncomfortable is one of the biggest productivity killers. When you’re experiencing discomfort or pain, it’s hard to concentrate and work uninterrupted for any length of time.
#3 Set Boundaries
No doubt the family love having you around more. You’re there when the kids leave and come home from their activities. But when you’re always there it’s easy for your partner or kids to think you’re available for a chat, so there are even more interruptions than you had in the office.
While the odd interruption may seem harmless because it’s a quick conversation, the productivity suck comes with getting your mind back on track after each interruption. It takes over 23 minutes to regain your concentration and return to your original task after each interruption. If you stop work several times each day, that’s a lot of lost productive work time.
There are times of the day that are less important because you’re completing simple tasks that don’t take a lot of concentration and you don’t mind being interrupted. During this time you can leave the door open as a signal that you don’t mind being interrupted. But during other times, it’s ideal to close the door so you aren’t disturbed. If you don’t have a door on your work space, try using a sign or even a scarf on the back of your chair to show the family you’re doing important work and can’t be disturbed.
#4 Use Headphones or a Headset
If you’ve had a conference call while working from home, you’ve probably discovered how noisy your home is. If it’s not your dog or kids making noise, then you might hear the neighbours’. While it’s difficult to block out the noise when you’re on a video call you can’t mute, it’s possible to reduce the din so you can concentrate while working.
Rather than stopping work while the rubbish trucks drive up and down your street, the postie delivering letters, or the barking dog that’s getting on your nerves, invest in a set of noise-cancelling headphones. They can block out the outside noises so you can hear your internal voice a little louder and help keep you on track.
If you’re used to wearing a computer headset in the office, you can invest in a wireless or USB headset for home. Being able to use equipment that you had in the office can help maintain that same productivity at home.
#5 Let Friends and Family Know You’re Working
When no one can see what you’re doing at home, you might be more inclined to check Facebook regularly or allow friends to drop in for a coffee. But all those distractions lead to poor productivity and later stress trying to meet deadlines. When you tell people you’re working from home, explain you’re keeping to work hours and continue to do personal activities outside 9am-5pm weekdays.
#6 Use Your Previous Commute Time Wisely
Having an extra hour or two in the day because we're no longer commuting to the office is a bonus of working from home. A survey showed nearly half of all workers were using the time they usually spent commuting to be more productive with work, while another 38% said they were using this time to spend with family or on leisure activities.
Try not to waste this time by sitting on the lounge watching morning television or scrolling through social media. Instead use it to work out what your three most important tasks are for the day, writing a to-do list or checking over your schedule. Beginning the day feeling like you’re in control will set you up for success.
If you need some help finding ergonomic equipment that will help you work more productively from home, give us a call on 9240 7066 or contact us online.