Remote work en masse doesn't seem like it's going away anytime soon, despite being three years into the pandemic.
If you're searching for "how to be productive at home," it might be because you want to enjoy the perks of working from home while maintaining the efficiency you had when you were working in the office.
According to WFH Research: Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes, the work-from-home concept is working out for so many people - which isn't surprising since it has numerous benefits remote workers wouldn't want to lose.
But remote work is still work despite its flexible schedules and lack of commutes. It's not without its own set of demands and challenges. And sometimes, these challenges can negatively impact productivity.
If you're finding it hard to stay productive in your new home office, below are 10 productivity tips to help you organize tasks efficiently, gain momentum, and ultimately achieve more while working remotely.
#1 - Set short and long-term goals
Goal setting improves drive and focus
Having clear, definite goals is crucial for optimal performance. Goals provide vision, which you can keep sight of for its occasional supply of motivation.
Keeping your goals in the back of your mind can also help you stay focused. So even if you encounter the inevitable challenges of working from home, you won't need as many "pick-me-ups" to rise above them.
Goals help you form healthy habits
It goes without saying you'll need to stick to some great habits if you want to maintain an unbroken productivity streak against a busy schedule crammed with challenging tasks.
But let's face it; building the new habits you need to stay productive can be harder without setting clear targets. So it's best to always take the time to write your daily and weekly goals, building them up to an ultimate long-term objective.
Goals compel you to plan ahead
Writing goals is one thing. Planning on how to achieve them is another. You'll have a much better chance to maximize productivity and achieve short and long-term goals with good planning.
It wouldn't hurt to spend time, say, an additional 5 minutes a day, arranging your task list and priorities. Remember that planning itself is a crucial skill. And it directly affects your capacity to manage your time and maintain deep focus in your work.
#2 - Stick to a daily routine
A simple way to stay productive
Have you ever wondered why some people, especially successful people, are just more productive than others? It turns out that another key element to optimal performance is consistent action. And the only way to achieve it is by solidifying routines into habits.
Now that you're clear with your goals, the next ideal thing to do would be to start building the healthy habits you need for consistent productivity. Habits create consistency. And you're going to need to cultivate healthy ones to raise a solid and unbreakable work ethic.
Lifelong habits begin with daily routines
For productivity-boosting habits to become deeply ingrained, they must start out as behaviors that you perform regularly. We're talking about daily routines.
We've all heard it: a good morning routine precedes a structured and productive day. Start by designing a good morning routine ideal for you - one that sets the scene for productive working at home.
But routines that solidify into great habits aren't just limited to mornings or right after you get out of bed. Routines that work for you can be practiced anytime during your waking moments.
Habits eventually make productivity easier
Habits aren't created overnight. It can take a while before they become fully incorporated into your life.
But once they become second nature, the mental strength and momentum you'll need to build a productive day will lighten. And you'll be better equipped to power your through daily tasks and activities.
#3 - Set up a dedicated workspace
Set boundaries between your work and personal life
When you're at home, it's not uncommon for productivity risks to intrude into your work mindset. That hour-long "quick chat" with a family member or that afternoon nap, fleeting as they were, wasn't probably what you had in mind in the first place.
To maximize productivity and steer clear of needless distractions, you'll need to create a work environment conducive to working from home. And that begins by setting up a dedicated workspace.
Your workspace sets boundaries between your work and personal life.
Carve out a space that promotes productivity
An office-like space doesn't even have to be fancy. Just ensure it's quiet and has everything you need to work efficiently without the risk of distraction from the people you live with.
Many productivity experts advise against working in a room where you've associated feelings of sleep and relaxation. So if there's one room to avoid during work hours, it's your bedroom.
The reason is simple. It's going to be much harder to maintain a persistent work mindset when the brain keeps insisting that it's time to loosen up. Making progress becomes a long and challenging hurdle. So ensure to have separate a space for productivity and sleep.
#4 - Manage time effectively
Time management improves work life balance
If there's one thing that's going to significantly impact your work life balance, it's how you manage your time. When your work hours are spent at home, balancing work and home responsibilities can be challenging - at least until you master time management.
If you're someone that doesn't do well with schedules and lets your personal life intrude in your home office, you're not alone. According to a recent study by Development Academy, 81% of people don't employ a time management system.
Does that mean that 81% of people are lousy schedulers? Probably not. But if time management isn't your strong suit, there are best practices that you can incorporate immediately to turn things around.
Allocate energy efficiently with time tracking
One famous time management practice is time tracking. It's essentially becoming more aware of where your time goes instead of where you think it goes.
Once you're aware (from actual data) of which tasks are taking up most of your work hours, you can begin allocating time efficiently for the tasks that matter most. You'll also avoid underestimating how long it takes specific tasks to complete.
Divide your work hours into manageable chunks with time blocking
Another effective time management method is time blocking. It's where you divide your days into manageable chunks. Come to think of it, you can implement chunking into your to do list.
Do one thing at a time, with each task having its own set duration. You can even create time blocks for non-work-related tasks.
But regardless if a time block consists of personal or work-related activity, ticking off one can reward you with a dopamine hit, which you can capitalize on to boost productivity further, culminating in another productive day.
So press that Pomodoro timer and brace yourself for another round of deep work.
#5 - Multitask only when you need to
Or avoid multitasking altogether
Research by Cal Newport on context switching backs that up. According to this research, switching your attention — even only for a minute — significantly impedes your cognitive function.
It can be highly tempting to juggle between different tasks, and it can seem like it's the right thing to do. But more often than not, multitasking makes us less productive.
Multitasking slows you down
One study shows that multitasking can lead to the exact opposite of productivity. Similar to what Cal Newport found, this study affirms that the brain slows down whenever it tries to pay attention to multiple things at once.
Instead of laying down a hundred percent of your energy into that one critical task on your to do list, you're splitting that energy up into multiple chores.
This can ultimately make you less efficient and compromise your output quality for each of those tasks you're attempting to do at once.
Achieve more by focusing on one thing
Rather than doing your usual attention hops throughout the day, try to stay focused on one thing at a time. Set up time blocks that do not involve more than one task.
In his book The Time Block Planner, Cal Newport recommends applying a concept called deep work. A far cry from letting distractions affect your work quality.
Yes, it can be tempting to do ninety-degree task shifts, especially if the tasks are no less important. But ask yourself if the cognitive impediment that would follow suit is worth it.
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#6 - Communicate and stay connected
Communication fights boredom and loneliness
You might have gotten used to working from home. But that may not mean you're without the occasional bouts of loneliness remote workers experience from time to time.
If you're missing the usual face-to-face water cooler interactions, no one's stopping you from initiating a virtual one instead.
According to one study, communication can help you fight boredom and loneliness. So the occasional virtual meetings with coworkers for small talks and catch-ups might go a long way in helping you spark interest in what you're doing.
Communication improves teamwork
Communication isn't just for maintaining good working relationships. It's also integral to successful teamwork. A McKinsey Global Institute analysis has found that communication improves organizational productivity by as much as 25%.
Remote employees rely on countless communication channels for the effective conveyance of information. So it's essential to familiarize yourself with the different communication tools your remote team uses.
But as much as your organization employs many communication channels, you'll find that your individual coworkers exhibit as many communication styles. Understanding how to handle each of them effectively is key to healthy working relationships.
#7 - Don't neglect the benefits of good sleep
Sleep deprivation is the enemy of productivity
If you're not getting enough sleep, you won't be in any better position to stick to routines, exert more effort, manage your time, or maintain productivity.
Building a productive day is more challenging without a consistent good night's sleep. One study shows that sleep deprivation heavily impacts cognitive performance, like working memory and focused attention, hindering effective learning.
Another recent study links sleep loss to low effort and productivity due to loss of access to energetic resources. The study affirms sleep loss affects the body's ability to store energy and control its availability.
Good sleep habits make you more productive
The above reasons should be enough to compel you to avoid sleep deprivation, especially when we're all aware of the multitude of health benefits that come with getting better sleep.
These benefits correlate directly to productive working.
Take, for example, the cognitive boost you get with good sleep. It's not hard to imagine how that's going to serve you as you tackle challenging tasks. You can definitely use that larger focus reserve to maintain momentum throughout the day.
Sleep and mood are also closely connected. When a good night's sleep appropriately processes your emotions, a better capacity for focus is just one of the mental upper hands you get. Good sleep can also help you to stave off needless negative emotional reactions.
#8 - Eat healthily
Your productivity is what you eat
Joint research by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) and Healthways surveyed 19,803 employees to determine how much unhealthy habits affect their work productivity.
In the words of the researchers: "Employees with an unhealthy diet were 66 percent more likely to report having experienced a loss in productivity than those who regularly ate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables."
Unsurprisingly, there's also a connection between productivity and dietary decisions. When your body is not getting the proper nutrients it needs for sufficient energy, you'll risk zoning out at work, compromising your productivity.
Switching to a healthy diet
To kickstart your healthy food habits, begin by staying on top of the foods you eat.
Glucose is the primary fuel source for the cells of our bodies and brains. When we run low on glucose, we begin to feel something similar to the familiar mid-afternoon slump, which many try to remedy with caffeine or sugar.
Not all foods release glucose at the same rate. For instance, foods high in carbohydrates give the body a temporary glucose surge, providing a quick energy boost followed by a dramatic energy drop.
The ideal snacks to go for are those that help maintain a balanced glucose level (also known as blood sugar) by releasing glucose in sustained amounts. These foods include whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Of course, a lot goes on with switching to a healthy diet. Incorporating nutritious and energy-boosting meals and snacks begin with your morning routine and continue throughout the day. It's best to always take the time to learn which foods to consume and which to avoid.
#9 - Stay active
Exercise boosts energy levels and reduces fatigue
Looking for an immediate energy boost? Everyone knows the value of exercise when maintaining good health and fitness.
But similar to a good diet, it can also be an efficient way to spur your energy levels when working from home, which means you'll be able to get more things done in the day.
Physical activity increases your energy through various means.
One is improving your blood circulation, which makes delivering oxygen and nutrients to your brain and body more efficient.
Another is by fast-tracking the production of hormones that help increase metabolism, which allows our body to burn more fat and sugar.
Exercise can reduce stress and improve mood
If you frequent physical activity, perhaps you're familiar with its resulting feel-good effect, which can trigger as soon as 6 minutes into your exercise.
Exercise is a natural mood enhancer. Scientific evidence even suggests that it can play a critical role in improving mental health. Running for just 15 minutes a day reduces the risk of clinical depression.
So if there's one tip on "how to be productive at home" that you shouldn't neglect, it's staying active. Just going for a brisk walk after sitting too long in front of your computer can help refresh your mind and restore your focus.
#10 - Introduce accountability in your remote work
Accountability compels you to be productive
Accountability is essential in any work environment, whether your team operates in an office or is exclusively working from home. Simply put, accountability is what's going to compel you to feel responsible for delivering quality work to the best of your ability.
And if you're compelled to perform well, you'll always take the extra steps to ensure that nothing compromises your productivity.
Accountability vs. motivation
Accountability and motivation are often confused with one another. That comes as no surprise since both help you stay on track to achieve the same goals.
The most significant distinction between the two is that motivation comes and goes. You can try to influence it, but there's simply no switch button that'll give the dopamine spikes you need during critical moments in your goal pursuit.
Accountability, however, is more enduring since it represents all your unwavering commitments toward progress. Accountability is what's going to keep you in the game when motivation isn't present.
The more you practice accountability, the stronger it gets
While it may force you to make many adjustments at first, accountability is a learnable skill - if practiced daily.
You've probably heard about the concept of reciprocating accountability relationships.
The idea is to find an accountability partner that will help you stay committed and hold you accountable anytime you veer off course from the path you've committed to taking. And you are to do the same to your partner.
Consider accountability coaching
Perhaps the most effective accountability relationship is with a suitable accountability coach. Randomized control studies have found that coaching outperforms other interventions, such as peer-to-peer relationships or self-coaching.
If you're looking to introduce accountability in your life, try GoalsWon. Work directly with a trained accountability expert while enjoying access to all the must-haves of an effective goal-setting/to-do app.