9 Tips to Remain Productive While Working Remotely
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of companies to mandate that their employees work from home. The modern era was already causing people to be distant, and the COVID outbreak has only exacerbated it. Remote work can be very isolating if you don’t know how to deal with it.
Additionally, working from home can disrupt your productivity if you are not experienced in it. You are in your personal space, not in a professional setting, and that offers a lot of distractions. The kitchen needs to be cleaned, the dog needs to go out for a walk, and the laundry needs folding. That new show on Netflix is on, so why not watch just for a bit?
Remote work is ideal for procrastination. You will need some time to adjust, but with some helpful advice, you can overcome the challenges of working from home. Here are 9 tips that will help you remain productive while telecommuting.
1.Create a Dedicated Workspace
One of the most important things that you can do to adjust to the new environment is to set up a dedicated workspace. Ideally, it would be a separate room that you would customize into a home office, but space limitations don’t always make that possible. At least, confine your workspace to a part of the house where you will avoid doing anything else.
Don’t check email and voicemail in front of the TV, or spread your work out on the dining room table. Try to set the workspace away from the main area, where most of the house activity happens. Make the space as stress-free and quiet as possible.
While it is important to separate the workspace, don’t try to convert a small closet that can only fit a desk into it. A small and stuffy room, with no natural light, will have a negative effect on your psychological state and lessen productivity in the long run.
2. Block All Distractions
Use noise-canceling headphones or earbuds to block ambient noise. The neighbor’s kids playing, a stray dog barking, street traffic, or your housemates talking are all distractions that will make you lose concentration.
While you are in the zone, all of these distractions may seem minimal and easy to ignore; but if you are already having trouble focusing, the smallest noise can distract you, forcing you to refocus again and again. Studies have shown that delicate classical music calms your brain and can help you concentrate.
The same goes for nature sounds. The sound of rain, waves, or a waterfall may be just the thing you need to increase productivity. Experiment a little until you find the right mixture of sounds that can help you remain focused.
3. Establish Psychological Boundaries
You need to get into the right mindset for work, and a dedicated workspace can help you do that. Make a schedule that you will stick to, and work during those hours. Once you enter your workspace at the designated time, your mind will subconsciously enter work-mode.
This will make it much easier to focus. Form psychological boundaries to help you resist the temptations around you. While at work, you wouldn’t go to the fridge to check whether there are some leftover sweets, would you? Nor would you start doing your laundry or cleaning.
Your workspace is now your office, so don’t do it here either. This will help you focus and make you more productive. Personal activities should be done when you are off the clock, much as you would do in a normal situation.
4. Establish Physical Boundaries
Much like you set psychological boundaries around your workspace, you need to set physical ones too. Your workspace is off-limits to your housemates. Ask them to treat it as if you were working from a company office.
They wouldn’t just stroll into the company building to have a chat or play a game, and they should act the same here. Unless there is an emergency, you are not to be contacted. You need to communicate your needs clearly, and it may take some time until they get used to it, so don’t get stressed out if the system doesn’t function perfectly at the beginning.
You are all adjusting to the new situation, and it will take practice until you get it right. Try to go to your workspace only when you are on the clock, and not for leisure activities. In the beginning, it would be best to keep the same schedule as you did while working from the company office. You can adjust and fine-tune your work-hours once you get the hang of it.
5.Detach From Your Workspace
After you have finished working, put away your tools and devices. If you were a mechanic, you wouldn’t keep nuts, bolt, and wrenches lying around in your bedroom, would you? Even a professional cook doesn’t keep pots and pans everywhere around the house. Treat your work-from-home equipment the same.
It is very important not to keep anything that reminds you of work in plain sight. This will help you not to think about work so that you can relax. It is much harder to recharge your batteries if working is constantly on your mind due to the reminders around you.
6. Discourage Personal Intrusions
Do your best to minimize personal intrusions. If you were working as a lawyer, friends and neighbors wouldn’t just pop-in to your office for a coffee. Explain to others that they should treat your workspace the same.
People often see remote work differently than they do on-site jobs, so they may drop in for a quick chat, without any bad intentions. This will make you lose focus and cost you time. Common interruptions can lead to procrastination and missed deadlines. Calmly, but firmly, set boundaries around your work hours.
Let everyone know that during this time you will be unavailable, and that they can contact you after you have finished. The location of your job has changed, but nothing else. You still need a calm environment, free from interruptions, to be productive.
7. Put Extra Effort Into Communicating
Work from home can be isolating, so you should try to use the tools available to their maximum. Whether your team is using Slack, Zoom, or any other collaboration platform, you should always be available during work hours.
Communication is an issue with remote work, so you will have to put extra effort into communicating with your colleagues. When possible, try to make video calls. You will already spend a lot of time sending messages and emails, and video calls are more personal. Due to not sharing the same physical space with them, it is harder to establish connections.
When you video call someone, you are entering their personal space, even if virtually. This makes it easier to bond and inspires trust. Remember that the most productive teams are those that have a trusting relationship, so focus on nurturing it.
8. Nurture Your Social Circle
One of the biggest downsides of working from home is the effect it can have on your mental health. People need socializing to remain happy and healthy. Even if you are an introvert, you still need some time spent among other people. For many, their main source of personal interactions is their job, which is something that remote work severely limits.
While working from home, you can quickly start to feel isolated. You will need to counterbalance this by communicating with your colleagues, friends, and family during your off time. Don’t limit the use of social media, but enhance it. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to chat with your friends and organize get-togethers.
No longer can you wait for someone to call you for an outing – be proactive and invite your friends out for drinks. As much as you can, organize activities outside of your home. If you search around a bit, you will be surprised at how many interesting activities can be done in your area.
Maybe you can play laser tag, a new escape room opened up, or a board game club is right down the street. Google is your friend, so make use of it. Additionally, your colleagues are probably feeling just as isolated as you are. Think about making a support group where you can help each other adjust to your new settings.
9. Spend Time Outside
One of the most important things that you can do is to find a hobby or activity that you can regularly enjoy doing in nature. Cabin fever is a serious concern for remote workers, and spending time in nature can help alleviate the effects.
Research has shown that outdoor activities help you relax and de-stress. Tailor your hobbies to your preferences – if you like plants and feel good when you are productive, give gardening a try.
Outdoor sports are an excellent activity, as they fulfill your social needs, while keeping you fit and healthy. Hiking, mountaineering, biking, or fishing – anything to get you outside and active. Just taking a walk in a park for 30 minutes per day can safeguard your mental health.
Everybody is Different
These are 9 basic tips that can help you remain productive when working from home, while protecting your wellbeing. As you get more experienced, you will figure out what works best for you and make the correct adjustments.
People are different, as are the situations they are in – what works for you may not work for everyone. Remember to stick to the basic guidelines, while personalizing how you apply them. In no time, you will become a remote worker extraordinaire!
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