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Do you need help to boost productivity whilst working from home? In this article I discuss some top tips and suggestions to keep your workflow productive – and the boss happy.
With the ongoing Coronavirus not looking to slow down anytime soon – many of us are now working from home. Although the pursuit of this lifestyle is often sort after, for many of us it has been unexpectedly imposed. Perhaps boosting productivity has not been high on the agenda – but these simple suggestions will go a long way towards keeping your career on track.
In the UK, the number of remote workers increased by 25% in the decade from 2008 to 2018. As a response to Coronavirus, there has been a fast-paced adoption and implementation of working from home for business’s throughout the world. This may lead to a seismic shift in working habits for years to come. Therefore understanding how to boost your productivity is going to be vital – if you want to succeed in the new world.
My brother and his fiancé both live in London and the past few weeks have been working from home. They have strategically designed their working day to maximise their productivity and avoid the procrastinating pit-falls constantly tempting them.
Their day is started with breakfast and a morning coffee (together). They then part ways and move to separate rooms – where the working day begins. A joint lunch is followed by more isolated work and finally, they meet back up again. A joint exercise session and evening chill together wraps up the day.
This is a great template to begin boosting your productivity when working from home. But there are a few more suggestions you can implement to take your productivity to the next level.
Difficult times are ahead for many of us. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t optimise for productivity. Success in our professional lives will increase and secure our financial standing and our overall wellbeing. Let’s now Upswing and boost our productivity whilst working from home.
Sleep your Way to Productivity
Firstly, you need to ensure your sleeping patterns remain constant. This can be tricky when working from home. The morning commute no longer exists and the boss won’t be mad if you arrive late at the office. So having that extra glass of wine the night before is not a good idea. Even if the consequences have diminished – so to will your productivity.
According to Sleep.org, having the optimum amount of sleep will dramatically improve your job performance. It improves your ability to focus and leads to better decision making. Even if just moderately sleep-deprived, you can have an up to 50% slower response time than a person under the influence of alcohol. Imagine that, not performing as well as someone who’s pissed.
So, your daily productivity boost actually starts the night before. It’s going to be difficult to maintain your sleeping habits with a drastic change in circumstances. Your ability to perform well and continue to succeed and excel requires the body and mind to be rested. Here at LifeUpswing, we are dedicated to the smaller things that simply make life better. Get the minutiae right and the rest will fall into place.
Having trouble actually getting off to sleep in the first place? Read LifeUpswing’s How the Hell Do I Sleep – and you’ll be snoring like a baby in no time.
Set your Surroundings
The biggest enemy to productivity whilst working at home is becoming distracted. Initially, the novel factor will be insanely difficult to overcome, as I have most definitely experienced. My tea consumption has increased by a factor of 10. I’ve never had a more organised Spotify playlist and my iPhone keeps telling me how much I love it (screen time warning).
Optimising your workspace will be the key to maintaining focus and ultimately boosting productivity. By removing as many possible distractions as you can, it will help to create an optimal working environment.
Firstly, create a dedicated space that resembles an office as much as possible. If you are fortunate enough to have an office at home then lucky you. If not, you should try and set one up in a room where the door can be closed and you will feel comfortable.
In this dedicated space remove the obvious distractions – no TV, games consoles or musical instruments. You don’t want to have wasted an entire afternoon mastering your cover version of Smoke on the Water.
Ensure your space is at a comfortable temperature whilst having plenty of air and light. Natural light is best so if you have a window in your space make sure it’s not being covered. A Northwestern Medicine Study found that workers exposed to natural light had significantly increased health benefits. This included effects on mood, alertness and metabolism. You can’t be productive if you’re not healthy.
Schedule and Time Management
Now that we are well-rested and our working space has been optimised we turn to our old friend – time. Possibly the hardest part of working from home to crack. This is because being at the office provides structure and routine which makes using our time wisely a simple task – the blueprint has been done for us.
However, being at home is a different story. Firstly, we feel as if the whole day is ours and tasks can be completed at some eventual point. It’s this procrastinating that means time will literally run away and what could have been achieved simply won’t be. I have found that maintaining a working schedule which replicates normality helps avoid the time-wasting. That means no 11 am starts or 3-hour lunch breaks.
Also, it is a great idea to incorporate the Pomodoro method of time management. The idea is to break up your work into 4 lots of 25-minute sessions – each followed by a 3-5 minute break.
After the block of 4 sessions is complete you then take a longer break for up to half an hour. You then simply rinse and repeat. This strategy is a game-changer when it comes to boosting productivity. The intensity of focus within these shorter blocks of time really amplifies your performance.
The short breaks in between allow for the continuation of this performance level throughout the day.
The Pomodoro method of time management is absolutely fantastic for exam revision. Explain it to your youngsters for when exam season is next around.
List your Way to Productivity
Who doesn’t love a good list? Having a detailed plan for the objectives of the day is a key ingredient for boosting productivity. I write lists like they’re going out of fashion – but it’s a system that works for me. A lot of people utilise their smartphone notepads and calendars, but I find it much easier with good old pen and paper.
Another great tip is to have multiple lists so you can subdivide your tasks into priority, difficulty and length of time needed. If you then organise your daily list to include a few tasks from each category, you will be able to accomplish a lot more throughout the day.
Compile your list for the following day the night before. This way you aren’t procrastinating by writing lists first thing. Also, another top tip is to give yourself a nice quick and easy job to begin the day. A feeling of accomplishment will raise spirits and instil the correct mindset for optimum productivity.
Productivity Boosting Apps
Our mobile devices can be little trouble makers when it comes to maintaining our productivity. I have so many different apps for different uses it’s a wonder I am ever off the damn thing.
A daily bank balance check (business, personal, another personal and credit card), investments, socials, news, more news, funny news, google reviews (my business), texts, tweets, WhatsApp’s and the list goes on.
The opportunities to begin a spiral of procrastination can be eliminated by simply installing an app. Freedom and SelfControl are great tools that can actually block and restrict access to certain apps and websites on your mobile. AppDetrox actually lets you set your own parameters and detox rules.
Also, the app RescueTime will give you usage analytics including time spent on certain apps. This can be a stark wake-up call if you have a slight addiction to Pinterest or an unhealthy relationship with funny cat videos.
Have a look to see which one you think will be best for you. And remember, you can always catch up on YouTube later – after the work is done.
Reward your Efforts
The final suggestion to boost productivity whilst working from home is to reward yourself. When spending all day at the office, often coming home is a reward in of itself. However, when working from home it can often start to feel a little monotonous to be in the same surroundings all day long.
Therefore, it is vital to begin planning different reward strategies. This will ensure you have something to look forward to at the end of the day. You will be more focused on the task in hand if you know there is something to look forward to.
It is slightly more difficult with the current lockdown situation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative.
If you enjoy exercise, then save your walk or run for after work. You could save your favourite TV show for the evening, or have daily activities to share with the family (games night is always fun). Personally, I’m a big fan of old school movie trilogies – it’s got me covered for at least 3 nights.
However, you decide to break the monotony of home working I would offer one final thought. The times are extraordinary, and for many of us, there is worry, panic, loss and anxiety. However, to be forced into a situation where we are able to spend time with our loved ones is rare. Any positives that can be taken from this time of reflection should be cherished.
Working from home to many is the ideal lifestyle opportunity. However, it is not without its challenges. You will have to stay on top of your productivity to ensure your job performance does not suffer.
Start with ensuring you get good quality sleep. This has the added benefit of improving other aspects of your life and overall wellbeing as well.
Set your surroundings to maximise your chances. If you are comfortable and distraction-free you will have a fighting chance.
Schedule your working day and manage your time. Use the Pomodoro method of time management to keep your productivity in check.
Lists are my secret weapon, a physical way to organise my brain and boost my productivity. You should priorities your tasks and write your list the night before.
Finally, a technological helping hand in the form of an anti-procrastination app will keep your phone fingers at bay – and your unnecessary screen time down.
A combination of all these suggestions is a great way to boost your productivity when working from home. And remember, if this is a temporary situation as a result of the Coronavirus lock down – many of the suggested methods are totally transferable back into the working world.