Working from home wasn’t taken seriously in the past, was it? However, the times are changing, and the COVID-19 outbreak became the final straw. Due to the social distancing requirements, thousands of employees had to start working from home even if it was a whole new thing to them.
Don’t get it wrong. An office hasn’t turned into an old thing. PwC’s US Remote Work Survey proved that half of the employees would prefer to return to their workplaces after the lockdown to interact with their colleagues in person. But at the same time, 55% of managers wouldn’t mind giving their employees the option of working from home even when the social distancing is over.
In 2010, Professor’s Bloom commenced a 9-month experiment of working from home conducted in a top Chinese travel company, which led to an increase in the employees’ performance:
“The overall impact of WFH [working from home] was striking. The firm improved total factor productivity by between 20% to 30% and saved about $2,000 per year per WFH employee. About two-thirds of this improvement came from the reduction in office space and the rest from improved employee performance and reduced staff turnover.”
According to the IGW Global Workplace Survey in 2019, 85% of respondents confirmed that productivity has increased in their business as a result of greater flexibility. Both setting a flexible schedule and ability to choose the most comfortable working location led to great results in employees’ motivation and productivity.
According to the Global Workplace Analytics completed in 2019, the remote workforce has increased by 140% since 2005. It means that work from home is on a high demand like never before. All this proves that remote work is an inevitable future for most of us, and we need to accept it.
Are you one of those who are suffering from disorganization when working from home? Keep reading to get-to-know some fresh ideas of how to stay motivated and keep balance when working from home.
10 Ways To Boost Productivity When Working From Home
1. Improve Your Workplace Ergonomic
Reason no.1 why people face real difficulties when they start working from home is because our dwellings are usually designed for recreation, not work. And it actually makes sense, doesn’t it?
There is no need to remodel your house into an office completely. The point is to allocate comfy space for business with zero distractions.
Before you get started, pay attention to ergonomics. Make sure your home facilities are suitable for your work needs, otherwise buy proper equipment. In the beginning, you may be excited to operate right from your bed. However, doctors don’t recommend keeping the bending posture for long working hours.
This image is showing the optimal working posture of leaning back at 135º. Scholars recommend it as to the one that can reduce strain in the lower back. Source: Buffer.com.
2. Get Dressed The Way You Want To Be Addressed
We live in a world where appearance matters to not only people we meet but even to ourselves. We might feel totally different when changing the look. Psychologies claim that our outfit brings us into the proper mood, and smart clothes can increase productivity.
Therefore it’s highly recommended to take care of your appearance, do your hair, and wear office clothes even if no one sees you.
Some companies in Malaysia urged women who work from home during the lock down to use make-up and wear appropriately like it’s shown in this picture.
Image source: https://www.workingmother.com/
Be responsible to how you look, as if your boss or clients may call you anytime. Wear smart clothes to feel more confident and convincing when communicating with clients. Always dress the way you want to be addressed.
3. Have a Schedule and Stick to It
As soon as your workplace is equipped correctly and waiting for you to start, it’s the high time to tune in to work. Don’t be overconfident, thinking that completing your workload at home is going to be an ease.
Back in the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin’s said a wise phrase that eventually became a quote: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Since the world is continuously developing, modern managers can’t go far without planning skills. Caitlin Reddington of All Things Hair US, who pointed out the importance of making daily agendas, stated:
“Sticking to a consistent schedule and routine has helped me stay productive while working from home. I’ve also enjoyed taking advantage of my extra free time.”
So, take planning seriously. Have your to-do list ready the day before to prevent stress, rush, and wasting your precious morning time. Planning your daily schedule in advance makes your mind concentrated and prepared to face the upcoming challenges.
In the evening, it is time for reflection. Check what you have done, and make a plan for the following day. Don’t forget to encourage yourself to stick to your schedule.
4. “Eat the Frog” First
Just don't take it literally. This idiom has nothing similar to actually eating the green amphibians.
This time-management related idiom was inherited from Mark Twain, who once said: "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first."
So, “a frog” means a task that is incredibly boring or difficult so that you don’t have any motivation to complete it, and are likely to procrastinate.
If there is no chance to delegate or avoid your “frog,” try to get it done at the beginning of the day. Don’t let your “frog” procrastinate your whole day.
“Eating frogs” in the morning is essential, since it increases self-esteem, and boosts motivation for the rest of the day. It makes us proud of ourselves like nothing else.
Image source: https://in.pinterest.com/
In case you are responsible for making many calls, answering emails, and meeting clients, it is better to plan it for the 2nd half of the day. You can also get a live chat software. This software solution provides you with a complete platform to interact and converse with potential clients and customers. Then you won’t be either sleepy or distracted from “eating your frogs.” However, if your work is solely about communication, you may prefer your self-made schedule.
5. Set Priorities With Your Time-Management Matrix
Every manager knows that planning can’t go without setting the right priorities. Whether you run a big business or organize your chores, prioritizing is always crucial.
While there are plenty of modern apps to set your priorities, most of them are based on the well-known old-school “4 Quadrants of Time-Management Matrix” invented half a century ago by the US President Dwight Eisenhower.
Image source: https://www.planetofsuccess.com/
From the table, you may have got the idea of how to use the matrix. So, divide all the things that have to be done into four quadrants depending on the priorities:
Quadrant 1: Urgent & Important tasks like paying for a website domain if the deadline is “today” or fixing a leaking tap in your bathroom.
Quadrant 2: Not Urgent & Important tasks like writing articles for your blog or attending a relevant training course.
Quadrant 3: Urgent & Not Important like picking-up a non-related to work phone when you are at work or filling other people’s queries.
Quadrant 4: Not Urgent & Not Important like playing foolish video games or any other time wasters.
As you see, we should start from Quadrant 1. Otherwise, the most urgent tasks can ruin the whole day like a leaking tap can flood the entire floor.
6. Follow Your Work-Life Balance
Breaking the work-life balance is one of the most common reasons why some people prefer to return to offices after the COVID-19 pandemic. When there is no strict time of the workday end, some people tend to either work overtime or merge work with their personal lives.
Would you like to be sunk in the work routine and feel like you are spending up to 100% of the time on your daily work? Probably, not.
Don’t work 100% of the time when you’re home.
To keep the balance, thoroughly plan not only your responsibilities but also your leisure time. Add hanging out with your friends, having fun with your children or simply watching movies to your to-do list, and never neglect the joys of life.
Image source: https://careeradvancementblog
It is not helpful to turn into a workaholic. Despite the extensive workload and lots of responsibilities, you have to find time for yourself. It would be best if you did things that make you happy to keep motivation and positive energy. No company needs grumpy employees, so do your best to become an inspired one whether you work from home or in the office.
7. Take Care Of Your Body & Health
Remember: hard-working people need a lot of energy and strength. And sports is the thing that can cultivate these things. So, in addition to the work-life balance, you should also take care of your body.
No need to become overly precautionary, become a powerlifter, go vegan, and do yoga three times a day if you don’t feel like it. Just be aware, when working from home, people risk falling into physical inactivity that has harmful consequences in the long run. Don’t repeat the mistakes of gaining weight or vision problems after a few months of working remotely.
In this picture, you see the six simple but effective exercises that you can use as your vision therapy.
Image source: https://www.icarevision.com
Get proper sleep, set aside time for your favorite sports activities, whether it’s football, tennis, swimming, jogging, or yoga. Don’t neglect exercises for your vision.
Install “7-Minute App” and use it for physical activities during short breaks. Or you can do simple exercises at home. Follow the recommendation of the WHO, and choose the ones that suit you the most.
Image source: https://www.who.int/
Invite your friends who also work from home to enjoy sports together - the more often, the better. It is not only a great way to keep motivation, but also to make your friendship stronger.
8. Limit Your Time On Social Media
According to the “Digital-2020” report, people worldwide spend about two and a half hours a day on social media. And the amount of time is growing yearly.
Since social media services were created as a fast and easy-to-use tool of communication, sometimes we may find ourselves scrolling the news feed for much longer than expected.
It’s exciting. It’s fun. But at the same time, it’s incredibly distractive.
And it’s annoying to be aware that you spent hours on social media instead of moving toward your dreams.
If you feel like you want to reduce the time spent on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, etc. in your life, you should think of installing a time-management app that prevents you from overusing social media services or chats.
Most smartphones go with the option of digital balance by default. It allows you to track the amount of time spent on each application so that you can check it at the end of the day, and decide whether it’s too much. In case you want to decrease the amount of time, just set limits on using a particular app or limit the total amount of using the smartphone.
What else you can do is to log out of every social media account. Turn off all push notifications. If possible, put your phone aside so that you need to stand up to take it.
If you want to go further, turn on an “Incognito” mode in your browser.
During working hours make as many obstacles between you and social media as possible. Otherwise, you need to have solid willpower.
9. Install Apps to Control Workflow
Go to Apple Store or Play Market, and you will see how many time-management apps and remote work tools are available nowadays. It’s impossible to name even half of them, but use those with lots of positive reviews from people who work from home.
Image source: https://desktime.com/
Trello or Asana - these apps created for the same purpose of getting things done on time, but just the interface is different. The tasks are divided into columns that relate to various projects. It’s possible to share responsibilities with other people.
Pomodoro App is an excellent tool for concentrating on the task since it sets a 25-minute timer for work, and then you have 5 minutes to take a rest.
Time Doctor or any other app that tracks your time and makes screenshots regularly at an unexpected time. Employers often use it, but you can also install one of them to track your workflow.
If you don’t feel like installing more apps, do laundry to measure your time, i.e. one laundry = one article. Be creative.
10. Build Habits of Motion
Newton’s law of inertia states that if you are in motion, you will stay in motion. And if you are at rest, you will remain at rest.
This principle is actual for every sphere of life, including work from home. Learn how to cultivate the habit of being hard-working and perform well.
Develop good habits in a friendly environment when working from home. It will take you to success one day.
Now you don’t need to be afraid of working from home, because you know the secrets of how to stay productive. Which technique are you going to implement in your workflow first?