Working remotely is not a new concept, at least for some employees, who must have practiced it at least once before. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have instructed their employees to start working remotely until further notice. This unexpected extended duration has imposed challenges for some employees, especially the ones trying to work from home for the first time.
As employees, most of us are focused on work while at the office because of external conditions that restrict our freedom or levels of distraction. For example, attendance systems force the start and end of our work day, meetings force us to be available on certain schedules, sitting at our desks limits our involvement with non-work-related activities, and finally, seeing our managers around, watching us, keeps our distractions to the minimum.
Missing those conditions while working from home might leave many employees vulnerable to distractions and unable to maintain the required levels of productivity and dedication to work. Although conditions of work at home differ from one employee to another, there are a few tips that could generally help overcome low productivity and increase concentration and dedication to work.
Tip 1- Go to Work, Even if You’re at Home
To set your brain to “work mode”, adhere to some practices that will help you feel you have actually gone to work. For example, don’t just wake up, open your laptop and start working, as this will keep you in sleeping mode and may get you to fall asleep again very quickly. Make sure you get out of bed, change out of your PJs, drink your coffee, check out your social media, etc. Just do anything you were used to doing as a routine before going to work.
Tip 2- List Your Tasks
Even if you’re performing your daily routine work tasks, make sure you have them listed clearly instead of just having them in your head. Seeing your tasks and crossing them off will give you a sense of achievement, and let you know that you are making progress. This will help you stay more organized, productive, and motivated to work.
Tip 3- Plan Your Day
A planned day is always a more effective one. Ensure your calendar is fully booked with all your meetings and tasks. You can also include your breaks and home-related chores you need to attend to during the day. This will help you stay focused on completing all your planned tasks within their allotted time and will minimize interruptions and wasted time in between. Once you’ve set your schedule, share it with your colleagues. This will help them know what you’re working on and when you’re available for a call or meeting.
Tip 4- Avoid Distractions
Distractions are the most common direct causes of reduced productivity when working at home. When working at home, it’s very easy to get distracted by a crying child, a favorite TV show, a basket full of laundry, or a comfortable bed calling for a nap. To keep your brain in the right mode, avoid, or at least minimize distractions around you. For example, don’t work in the kitchen if you think you will be distracted by a sink full of dishes calling you to wash them! If possible, try to find yourself a dedicated workspace. This will help your brain recognize that this is the place where you will work productively. It will also help family members understand that you should not be interrupted while in that area because you are doing some work.
Tip 5- Stay Connected with Your Coworkers
One of the challenges most remote workers face is social isolation. Although social interaction in the office might be distracting sometimes, it is still one of the most important factors in keeping everyone motivated and engaged. While working from home, make sure to establish or maintain a connection with your coworkers by setting more frequent video calls, arranging some online activities during break times, or simply picking up the phone to check on someone.
Tip 6- Take Regular Breaks
By breaks, we don’t mean checking your WhatsApp or Instagram or navigating the web to read some news. To stay productive, you need to take an actual break by getting up and moving away from your laptop or desk. Have a chat with a family member, go to the kitchen to grab a snack, or just stand by the window for some fresh air. Taking breaks while working from home is very important, especially if you have few interruptions at home since you might find yourself having worked continuously for extended hours without any break, which will be very exhausting and demotivating in the long run.
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