There are many positives to working from home, including comfort, convenience and privacy. There are also some downsides, especially if you’re the easily distracted type or if your environment isn’t conducive to productivity. The good news is that the challenges of the WFH lifestyle can be easily conquered with the right self-management techniques!
Whether you’re transitioning to a full-time WFH job or just looking to survive a temporarily remote assignment, here are some tips and tricks for staying engaged with your work while out of the office.
1. Create a Dedicated Work Space
It’ll be hard to stay focused if you’re working at the kitchen table with dogs and kids running around. If possible, sequester yourself in a private office; if you don’t have the space for that, put up a partition that separates you from the rest of the room. You might also consider going out and working at a cafe, library, bookshop or another quiet and industrious place. Anywhere will do as long as it puts you in “work mode.”
2. Keep Your Work Space Comfortable
One of the best things about working from home is being able to escape the confines of a cubicle, so don’t recreate that stuffy environment in your own house! Keep things light, open and airy for both your physical and mental well-being. Open the windows to let in fresh air that oxygenates your brain. Adjust your desk so that you have good posture as you clank away on the keyboard. Utilize blue light to increase focus, memory and overall cognitive function.
3. Manage Your Time Efficiently
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s something that many people struggle with when they work remotely. It can be hard to stay on-task when there’s no supervisor to watch over your progress! If you notice that you’ve been missing deadlines or rushing to get things before 5PM, it might be time to implement some time management skills. These could involve buying calendars and planners, installing alarm apps, setting appointment reminders or giving yourself time limits for various tasks.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Semi-related to the above, but if you have trouble focusing on work because your attention is easily diverted to other things, you might need to make a dedicated effort to stay on track. For example, you can install browser blockers that don’t allow access to social media or other time wasters. You can put the TV in another room. If you’re working with a spouse or roommate around, you can make it clear to them that you aren’t socializing while you’re on the clock.
5. Take Breaks
This might sound counterintuitive, but studies have shown that taking breaks can improve productivity. They’re even recommended by the American Psychological Association. Breaks are essentially the body’s way of recharging between tasks, and taking brief but frequent respites has been linked to everything from an improved mood to a better memory and a longer attention span. One popular time management method, the Pomodoro technique, even schedules breaks into its system: For every 25 minutes of work, you take a five minute break; after four or five cycles, you take a longer break.
6. Stay Connected
Are you a social person who thrives on the hum of inner-office activity? You aren’t alone. While some folks enjoy working from home, others say that they miss the rapport of in-person work or that they’re more productive when they can collaborate or bounce ideas off co-workers. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up these connections just because you’re remote. Things like Zoom and Microsoft Teams make it possible to see your colleagues every day, and when you’re done with work, you can even have virtual happy hours and other social occasions online. If your company doesn’t already offer them, suggest them yourself and see who else is interested!
7. Reward Your Productivity
This ties into the idea of taking breaks without feeling guilty about them. If you have a productive morning, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a lunch break that involves dessert and an episode of your favorite TV show. You earned it! Similarly, if you need to escape your home office for a while, it’s fine to go outside and decompress with a podcast for a while. A change of scenery can do wonders for your state of mind, and as we’ve already established, a rejuvenating break can be quite beneficial for your productivity.
These are just a few techniques for successfully working from home. At the end of the day, it all comes down to self-management. You need to have the ability to stay organized, eliminate distractions and keep yourself focused on your work. You should also be willing to try new things like productivity apps, timed breaks, browser blockers and anything else that sounds like it might help you.
Working from home can be one of the best things that ever happens in your career. You just have to know how to maximize the opportunity!