At the beginning of the year 2020, the whole world was introduced to a new way of working as the coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm. Millions of working professionals took to working from home full time. 

Many were unprepared and didn’t have much of a choice but decided to go with the flow. For some others, the thought of working from the comfort of their homes was an absolute dream come true.

Companies and employees didn’t have much time to prepare for remote work, neither did they chart out the best ways of shifting entire processes and teams to an all-virtual environment. It was implemented all of a sudden and for an indefinite time. 

The New Normal

If the whole work-from-home scenario is new to you, you may have found yourself bringing about significant changes to your daily routines and habits to succeed at it and to strike the right balance between your work and your personal life.

Working from home can be challenging. You are in your personal space and distractions are aplenty making it difficult to focus on work. You may have your folks around, your house to clean, laundry to do, a pet dog to feed, groceries to be bought, and a pile of work to attend to.

You may find yourself working extra hours too. A recent study has shown that remote employees who work full time put in an additional 26 hours of work in a month, and that is an entire day’s work adding to your monthly output! 

With the number of work hours increasing, the stress levels also rise as expected. A survey by Ginger, which was done during the pandemic, has revealed that 91% of employees who work from home have had to deal with moderate to extreme levels of stress.

All who have worked from home have had to figure out when to work, where to work from, what office equipment is required, and how to set boundaries between work and personal life.

You must know how to deal with this, because remote work is here to stay, at least for a while. 

10 work from home productivity tips to help you stay motivated

1 Start your day with a reflection

Self-reflection is a powerful tool to increase your productivity while working from home. Begin your day with a short time of prayer and meditation. This will help calm your mind, align your thoughts and actions and get you ready for the day. 

Keep a journal and list out your priorities for the day. Set yourself to achieving small goals during the day, that is how much of the total work you intend to complete and by when. 

As per a recent study by the Harvard Business School, 25% of people who practiced the art of journaling showed much better performance when compared to their counterparts who failed to pick up this healthy habit of daily reflection.

By setting aside a couple of minutes at the start of your day, you will get into the right state of mind to attain your goals. It will give you an understanding of where you are, where you are headed, and what it will take to get you there. 

2 Stick to a routine

When you work from home you have a more flexible structure to your day as against heading to and working from a traditional office set up. Having a routine in place can bring in a lot of positivity. 

It will help you stay more productive and increase your motivation levels. Pick out that one thing that will indicate to you that you are about to start your work. It could be something as simple as making a cup of tea in the morning, or returning home after walking your dog, or showering, putting on makeup, and getting dressed. 

Choose an existing habit you have that can act as a catalyst to make you feel you are work-ready and stick to it.

3 Schedule “deep work time” and “meeting time”

Follow a schedule for maximizing productivity. That way you will be able to regulate your work better. 

To organize your schedule take into account the following factors- 

  • Your usual workload for a given day
  • The time of the day when you are the most productive 
  • The routine of your spouses who may be working and of your children (if this is applicable)

Deep work time is when you immerse yourself to complete the most important tasks without any interruptions. That’s when you focus only on the work at hand. 

“Studies show that when there is an interruption, it takes up to 25 minutes or more to get back to the flow of work.”

So, find the best time of the day when you are the most productive and schedule your deep work for then. 

If you are someone who likes to rise early and get to work, try and get as much work done in the morning hours and you could leave the rest of your day to less intense work and schedule your meetings for then.

4 Start task batching

Task batching is the act of grouping tasks of a similar nature together to improve efficiency and productivity. For example, you can group the tasks of writing a blog and writing a school newsletter together. Wonder what’s the connecting factor? The common thread here is writing.

By splitting a large project into smaller specific sections and sorting them by similarity, you can manage your workload better and improve the quality of your work. Task batching also helps reduce stress levels. Now that’s a work from home productivity tip you don’t want to miss.

5 Keep a designated workspace

One of the biggest dilemmas that people face when working from home is to keep themselves away from distractions

Choose a space in your home where your work does not intrude into the lives of other people in your household and where you don’t get easily distracted by what’s happening in your environment. 

Find a quiet, stress-free zone for yourself where you can concentrate entirely on work.

6 Track your time 

If you struggle with time management, track your time effectively with a technique that millions of people swear by called the Pomodoro technique. 

In this technique, work is broken down into short intervals which are typically 25 mins long. Each interval is called a Pomodoro, which means Tomato in Italian. This technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo and is named after the tomato-shaped timer that he used as a university student.

This technique is useful if you want to know how long a task takes and if you have a lot of repetitive work to do.

7 Set your devices to ‘do not disturb’

The tendency to check your phones each time a notification pops up will eventually eat into your time. 

Avoid all interruptions by choosing to turn off all notifications and switching all your devices to the ‘do not disturb’ mode including messaging platforms like Slack when you are in the middle of deep work. This will improve your efficiency by leaps and bounds.

8 Go for a walk after work

Use the time that you would have otherwise lost in commuting to and from work to step out of your home and go for a walk after you are done with work for the day. One of the biggest issues with working from home is inactivity. 

You tend to sit in front of your computer until your tasks get done and before you know it, hours would have gone by. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise that improves your metabolism and your overall energy levels. Include at least one physical activity in your schedule and walking is a great option to pick.

9 Use productivity tools 

Your laptop is not only your primary tool for performing and managing all your tasks but it is also the go-to means for all your communication with your superiors and teammates. 

In recent years, there is a range of productivity tools that you can use like Fellow.app, a meeting management software, to improve communication and productivity while working remotely. These tools empower the remote workforce to effectively communicate with co-workers and clients.

That’s not all – I’ve gone ahead and picked out a few of my favorite tools to help you stay on top of your tasks!

Take, for example, Todoist – a tool popularly known to help you get things done, faster! With this task manager, you can create to-do lists, collaborate across teams and manage tasks seamlessly.

Next on the list, we’ve got Trello – think project management made easy! Trello serves as an all-in-one tool to help you plan and ace project management, assign tasks to your team, and get things done on the go.

10 Set boundaries

You should have ground rules laid out for family members who can enter your workspace and when. This is essential if you have kids and pets who need your attention. The idea here is to minimize distractions and not let your work suffer.

How about we play out a few rules to get you going?

For starters, if you have kids who need constant attention – you could plan out their day and set up activities that will keep them engaged especially while you need to handle work calls or meetings.

Grown-ups are also not off the hook. Make sure that you keep them well-informed about your schedule for the day. Don’t shy away from standing your ground and setting clear boundaries to keep away from distractions.

Next up, pets need to be trained too!

Your fur-workers can be kept engaged with their favorite toys (especially the ones they don’t get to play with often). Interactive toys and some long-lasting chews could keep them busy for a while!

Pro tip: Keeping your door shut can go a long way in making sure you can attend to those work calls in peace.

Benefits of working from home

You can enjoy a host of benefits while working remotely. Here are some of the greatest advantages of working from home –

  • Flexible schedule: With remote jobs, you have the freedom to choose when you want to start and end your day. You can fix your schedule at your will. Need to run an errand during the day or drop your kids off at school? You have the full freedom to do so if you can make up for the lost time later. 
  • Less commute time: This is an incredible benefit of working from home, you need not spend long hours on the road, traveling to and from work. Your stress levels are lower and you have more time at hand to focus on priorities other than work like catching up on extra sleep in the morning or spending time with your family in the evening. 
  • Better work-life balance: This is another key benefit of working from home. Remote work allows you to choose your work hours and you can spend more time with your friends and family. You can also fit in your household chores around your working day.
  • One for the environment: That’s right, working from home could do a lot of good for the environment – more than you could ever imagine! Get this – Flexjobs studies show that working from home amounts to having the same effect on air quality as planting a whopping 91 million trees. By keeping your vehicles off the road, you’re also doing your bit in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Saving up on money: This one’s sure to get you happy! Working from the comfort of your home would mean no more unnecessary spending on lunches, stylish office attire, commuting expenses, fuel, and parking expenses and the list goes on.

Remote work is expected to continue as a norm during and after the pandemic. It takes discipline to work from home. The importance lies in finding the right balance between work and personal life.