4 tips to staying productive when working from home

Find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot in your home that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock.

With the outbreak of coronavirus globally and the implementation of Malaysia’s movement control order is still in full force, necessitating that as many employees as possible work remotely until the spread of the virus can be contained.

Many people fantasise about working from the comfort of their own home, replacing their commute in favour of more sleep, family or exercise time.

But working remotely is a double-edged sword — sure, you get to stay home, but it can be harder to focus on actually working. Some of the problems are:

  • Unsuitable location or working conditions
  • Poor time management and lack of structure
  • Unclear flow of communication
  • Feeling demotivated and hate working in isolation

So, here are four tips on how to make working from home more productive.

1. Set up a designated space for working

Find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work in that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock — that means getting off the couch, and definitely out of bed.

When setting-up a home office, make the room look like an office. Make sure you have easy access to all the tools and supplies you need to succeed. This includes your computer, a printer, video conferencing equipment, paper, pens, and more. The more your room feels like an office, the easier it will be to stay motivated.

If you don’t have a separate room, find an area with minimum traffic flow or a corner of a room off from the main area. Also important that the area has good ventilation and enough light whether from sunlight or artificial lighting.

Avoid checking emails, voicemails, or texting in front of the television or spreading work out on the kitchen table. Make your space a stress-free zone of quiet and solitude where you can concentrate.

Maintain regular business hours or base your work hours on the schedule of your spouse or kids.

2. Manage your schedule and time

Set your work days and hours and stick to them. In most cases, that either means maintaining regular business hours or basing your work hours on the schedule maintained by your spouse or kids.

Not only does a conventional schedule make you more productive, it also allows you to spend time with the people you care about.

If it helps, you can set up a personal timetable that allocates specific times for work, rest, and spending with family.

Make a list of what you should do every day and what goals you want to achieve. This will help you manage your time and be more productive throughout the day.

For example, work from 9.00 am to 12.00 pm. Take a break for lunch. And continue working from 2.00 pm until 6.00 pm. This frees up your time at night to spend as you wish. Of course this is totally flexible and can be adjusted according to your availability and the requirements of your employer.

If you work for yourself, start with setting broad weekly goals. Then every morning, set three high-priority tasks. You can cycle in smaller tasks like keeping up with email as you get a free five minutes but keep your eye on the larger high-impact tasks.

3. Maintain good communication with your employers and workmates

If you work for an employer, remain in close communication with your supervisor. Ask them which projects you should prioritise and what the deadlines are.

At least once each week, connect with them to discuss your progress, your challenges, and any ideas to address those challenges. Keep them in the loop so they can provide better feedback and direction.

Employ your video communications perhaps more than you normally would, now that you’re more isolated.

Make sure you have your company’s teleconferencing devices—such as Zoom and Google Hangouts —hooked up and ready to go so you can stay connected with team members or office mates and you’re available for video calls and teleconferencing.

You can also invest in noise-canceling headphones, which block out external background noise so you can concentrate during a video conference or online meeting.

4. Find your motivators and stay connected

If you’re not used to working from home, especially with others — kids for instance — you need time to adjust. Try not to get frustrated if you find it difficult and start to recognise your patterns, rhythms, and motivators.

Figure out your personal motivators and understand what drives you. What chimes with your personality? Is it curiosity, problem-solving, the chance to learn, a sense of achievement, providing meaning, or taking an interest? It depends on the task, but try to apply some of these motivators.

Dr Thuy-vy Nguyen from Durham University, who studies the effects of solitude, thinks the psychological effects of working remotely for extended periods is often overlooked or ignored, despite it being an essential factor in our mental well-being and team bonding.

To help fill the socialising gap while working remotely, Nguyen recommends finding a colleague you can call when you’re in the need for a chat.

Alternatively, buddy up with a friend who works elsewhere and is going through the same experience. Hopping on a social video call instead of text isn’t a bad idea, either.

Source : FMT