Make remote work productive with the best tips for working from home based on my personal 5+ years experience.
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Had to work from home because of coronavirus but had no idea how to focus and actually work? Kids, cats, social media, and fridge distracts you from duties? I know it’s hard and I’ve been there.
What I suggest is to change the attitude and look at working from home as a blessing. You gonna have so many possibilities and freedom as you never had before. All you need to do is to structure the routine, create some incentives, and implement some new tips for working from home. It is not a very difficult investment but very rewarding not only in terms of working from home but in general in terms of productivity.
All of this is being said just to let you know one more time that because of coronavirus, everyone had to adjust not only their way of life but also plans for the future.
Of course, adjust and change plans is one thing. But the obligation to stay at home is a totally different experience. Especially for those who work outside of the home (office, for example) and for families with kids, who are gonna have to entertain themselves within the walls of their homes.
Read How To “Travel” While Stuck At Home for ideas on how to entertain yourself and your dearest ones.
Truly, it is very challenging not to drive each other and yourself mad. But let me share my experience.
I’ve been working from home for the last five years. Let me share the tips that helped me stay focused and improve my productivity.
Best tips for working from home
1. Dress up.
Of course, you’re at home, and no one will see you.
But believe me, it is the attitude that will influence your productivity. Wear nice and clean clothes for at least the working part of the day to make yourself feel more dedicated to the working process and look (and feel) professional.
2. Limit the use of social media and messengers.
The biggest distraction for most of us is social media, messaging with friends, and family. The most important and yet the hardest to follow tip for working from home is to limit social chatting at least during hours. To ease the use of this tip, I simply don’t open messengers and social media on the laptop. They don’t buzz, and I don’t see them and don’t get distracted. It doesn’t mean that you get disconnected from the world. Of course, you can check up on social media during breaks, but limit the use of Facebook and Instagram.
3. Make a schedule for small tasks.
I use the following timeframe: 45 minutes for a big task, then 15 minutes for small tasks (messaging with colleagues, reading mail, etc.). And then repeat again. For example, if you start working at 9 am, the schedule is the following:
- 9:00-9:45 am – big task
- 9:45-10:00 small tasks
- 10:00-10:45 big task
- 10:45-11:00 small tasks, etc.
Of course, when you stuck at one huge task, and you wish to skip small tasks, that is totally ok. I just suggest a small tip to trick our mind that might be looking for distractions in order to not doing the big bulk of work and get busy with small tasks. But if we trick ourselves and separate important and non-important, small and big to concentrate and block the distractions.
4. Plan the breaks.
I don’t like knowing that I have to work a full-time day. Do you? Of course, not. That’s why I suggest another trick: plan coffee breaks. Think of them as an incentive for hard work done. My coffee breaks schedule is the following:
- 9:00 start of working from home
- 11:00-11:15 coffee/snack break
- 1:00-2:00 lunch
- 4:00-4:15 coffee/snack break
- 6:00 end of a working day
You see, this schedule enables you to do breaks every 2 hours. It is such a blessing to know that you have to work just two hours before a break, right? And all the distractions can be moved to these breaks, such as social media and chatting.
5. Use timer for tasks you don’t want to do.
For all those who like postponing doing important tasks that have to be done, here is a great tip for working from home and not only from home: set a timer for 20 minutes. Start the task and do it for 20 minutes. If you don’t like doing it, postpone and do it again later with another 20 minutes timer. Most of the time, you’ll be able to finish the task, of course, or be able to finish it in several sessions. From my personal experience, this trick helped me fight procrastination. Give it a try.
6. Designate a spot for working from home.
And use it only for work. This will create a habit and a trigger to work once you’re settled.
7. Create “do not disturb” signal.
This is a signal for your family to know that you’re working and can’t be distracted. For me, the signal that I work is putting my headphones on. And not abuse it.
Never ever abuse this tip. Our bodies are used to walking to and from work, doing errands in between, and a huge reduction of physical activity will affect our health and (girls, pay attention) our body weight. I gained a couple of pounds when I started working from home, even though I had a healthy diet. So to keep ourselves in shape, please, do some exercise. It doesn’t have to be a full work out every day if you’re not into it.
Personally, I do planks and rope jumps imitation (jump as if I was using a rope) and squats. It is a minimum that keeps me in shape. If you ready to go the extra mile, you can do full-body workouts. A huge help here is mobile apps that make it possible to work out from home. One of my last found is the Trainity App. Here you can choose different plans and even create your own work out based on your desires.
9. Don’t EVER work from bed.
Work from bed only if you’re feeling really sick. See the tip from working from home #6 for details. The working space should be associated only with work and help you boost your working mood. In some time you’ll develop a habit of working from home and a working space will trigger the mood. While the bed should be strictly for relaxing after work is done.
Additionally, I’d like to suggest the following reads that helped me improve working from home experience and understanding of schedule importance.
- Remote: Office Not Required, by Jason Fried
A book about how to set up a remote office, create routine and stay productive.
- The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype–and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More, by Michael BreusOne of the books that will change attitude to a scheduling, because the schedules described in the book are based on biology and hormones.
- The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy, by Chris BaileyA year project for improving productivity of work full of tips and reviews of numerous practices and tools.
- Remote: Office Not Required, by Jason Fried
To make remote work productive, you don’t have to have a fancy home office or buy lots of stuff. It is about creating the right routine, use the right tools, and the best tips for working from home. By investing some time into organizing a comfortable space and the right routine, you can make working from home a great experience and work productively.
I hope that you find some of these tips for working from home effectively. Please let me know if you already use some of them, plan to implement, or have your own tips to share.