Working from home looks like a dream for many. Indeed: You don’t spend time and money traveling to the office, can decide on a more flexible schedule for an efficient work-life balance, and believe you can try to become a digital nomad now. Statistics are on your side, either: 83% of employees report experiencing higher productivity when working from home.
But here’s the kicker: you will only be able to maintain productivity and reap all the benefits of working from home if you are willing enough to organize the process right. Otherwise, you get stress, constant frustration, work-from-home burnout, procrastination, lashing out at relatives, fatigue, and (heaven forbid!) work depression.
Keep reading to find out what you can do to prevent that.
How to Maintain Productivity When Working from Home
Below are seven tips to help you organize the environment, schedule, and communication for high efficiency yet a healthy work-life balance to be happy with your decision to choose such a work format.
1. Organize a Workspace
Many work-from-home specialists can’t resist the temptation of spending all the time in bed: It seems comfortable to take a laptop with you under the blanket and work like this, with a cup of coffee nearby. Never do that if you want to maintain productivity!
A well-organized workspace is critical, even if you live in a one-room apartment. Do your best to design a business area in your room to enhance productivity and improve your overall well-being.
Separate your room into two zones:
- Computer work. Here you’ll need a table (it’s a must!), a comfortable office chair, a lamp (lighting is critical to maintain productivity), and a plant (it boosts spirits). If you aren’t alone in your apartment, make it a habit to work with earphones: It will signal your family that you’re busy, and they shouldn’t disturb you.
- Relaxation and inspiration. Here you’ll take breaks from work with a cup of coffee (it stimulates productivity and creativity, by the way), a book, or a meditation.
When working, eating, sleeping, and relaxing in one place, you’ll feel that you’re at work 24/7. Sooner or later, it will end with fatigue and exhaustion. So, the above workplace organization will help you prevent that and “cheat” your brain, influencing its focus and concentration on work.
2. Stick to the Schedule
Discipline and proper time management are your best friends and assistants when working from home. Otherwise, time management problems appear, leading to overworking, chaotic task management, and stress.
Not only do you need to develop a working schedule that would help avoid failures and missed deadlines. Your task is to stick to it by organizing your daily routine inside out. When you know what to do each day and prescribe the time for everything, you are more productive and motivated to accomplish each task faster.
Here’s the tip: Craft to-do lists daily and set aside time for each task, even those unrelated to work. Decide on your working hours, prioritize 2-3 items from your to-do list, and start a day by accomplishing those tasks. (You might hear of this method as Eat the Frog.)
Remember to include time for breaks in your schedule! A visual task management tool like Kanban board will help you track task completion and revise the daily routine accordingly. To help you prioritize, check out our Eisenhower Matrix template, MoSCoW template, and Getting Things Done (GTD) template.
3. Build Efficient Communication
While you may not need others to craft resumes (free resume builders help here), write cover letters, and pitch recruiters to find a job, efficient communication does matter when you get hired. Studies prove it: Specialists become less proactive when they don’t see their colleagues.
Communication on business processes improves productivity by 25%, so it’s critical to organize it when working from home.
Initiate communication with teammates and managers; consider channels your company prefers: email, chat apps, or video calls. You’ll be more productive when you get updates and feedback from others.
Also, don’t hesitate to improve your communication skills to avoid misunderstanding and confusion at work. Misinterpreting critical information, you’ll hurt your work efficiency, motivation, and overall productivity: So it’s critical to know how to avoid that.
4. Make Friends With Procrastination
What takes the most energy from freelancers and remote workers is the attempts to beat procrastination. We consider it the common symptom of laziness, so we try hard to deal with it.
But the truth is that procrastination can enhance your productivity. Moreover, you can overcome procrastination if change your perspective on how motivation works.
Most of us think of productivity as a linear process: First, inspiration comes evoking motivation to do something, and then this motivation turns into action (we start doing something). Such a mindset leads to frustration and productivity block because we sit and wait for inspiration to come, struggling to self-motivate and find that magic formula to keep inspiration high.
Instead, think of productivity as a circle or a loop: Actions evoke inspiration leading to motivation, and the other way around. Such a mindset helps you maintain productivity just by taking action.
When faced with procrastination, don’t wait for inspiration to come. Start doing something even though it won’t be your best work. The trick is to activate a productivity loop.
5. Prevent Work-from-Home Burnout
It happens for several reasons:
- You don’t communicate boundaries with people in your space. (It’s critical to set clear rules for them to behave while you’re working.)
- You ignore breaks and days off.
- You don’t organize your workspace and “forget” about health (proper nutrition, sleeping, etc.).
In other words, you spend most of your days doing work-related tasks, not giving a damn to self-care. However, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is key to a productivity boost. A proper sleep schedule, healthy snacks, regular breaks, and quick workouts — all are instruments to prevent burnout and problems with physical and mental health.
6. Avoid Digital Distractions and Multitasking
Did you hear of the switch cost effect?
It’s the mental and physical costs incurred when we try switching between several tasks simultaneously. Psychologists say such shifting can cost us up to 40% of productivity time, and that’s the reason why multitasking doesn’t work:
- It leads to decision fatigue and time-wasting.
- It prevents us from getting into a flow state critical for performing work at our best.
- It affects how much task-relevant info we retain, reducing our work’s quality.
The same effect occurs when we are constantly distracted from work by social media, notifications, and other external factors. So, do your best to organize the working environment to exclude all possible chronophages from your schedule.
7. Never Work on Weekends
No matter how much you love your work from home, don’t do it on weekends! Spend at least one day with no emails, working chats, and thoughts about the tasks you plan to complete next week.
It’s necessary to recharge and prevent tension, fatigue, and nervous breakdowns. If your work-related activities interfere with your personal life and other pleasures, then what’s the point? You’ll have no meaning in life other than work.
So, schedule a day off and spend it doing your guilty (or not) pleasures: go for a walk with your loved ones, watch a movie, travel to a neighboring city, you name it!
Work from home is here to stay, offering many benefits and opportunities for a better work-life balance. Still, it requires extra organization and time management skills to adjust everything and create a productive workflow. Follow the above tips, be mindful of your needs and discipline — and you’ll maintain productivity in your ideal work-from-home routine.