Working from home has perhaps become more mainstream over the last several years, but in 2020, it’s become the only option for many companies and employees. Whether employees are under stay-at-home orders, or are just choosing to exercise an abundance of caution, more people than ever are turning their bedrooms into their offices, and their kitchen tables into their desks.
There are some advantages to working from home (the commute is unbeatable), but there’s one big question that seems to be plaguing a lot of people as they struggle to make the transition: how do I stay on track while working from home?
Here are some of our best tips for helping you stay productive and on-task, even while you’re working from home.
Set aside time.
You might not be beholden to regular office hours when you work from home, but that doesn’t mean you should drop the concept of scheduled work time completely. In fact, designating specific time for work will help you stay more on-track when it’s time to work. Try to:
- Schedule most of your work time for a time of day when you’re most productive
- Make sure your work schedule overlaps with your colleagues (at least part of time), creating space for meetings and check-ins
- Communicate your schedule to your manager and coworkers, so they can know what to expect from you
Distraction is the enemy of productivity. During your work time, do everything you can to minimize distractions so that you can stay focused. Some things you might try include:
- Wear noise canceling headphones
- Turn off notifications on your phone
- Log out of your social media accounts
Just as you should have designated time to work, you should have a designated place to work. Working in the same place every day will help train your brain to go into “work mode” while you’re there. Do what you can to create a comfortable, efficient workspace that promotes productivity and helps you stay on task.
Try productivity tricks.
Productivity works a little differently for everyone; the trick is finding something that works for you. Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks and techniques out there to help you hack your own productivity and establish good habits. Some productivity tricks include:
- The Pomodoro Technique: bursts of intensely focused work, broken up by short breaks
- “Eat the frog:” the idea that you should do your biggest task, or the one you’re dreading the most, before you do anything else
- Getting Things Done: this method, developed by David Allen, focuses on completing small, easily-achievable tasks first, to help motivate you to keep going
- The Eisenhower Method: this grid helps you categorize your tasks so you know which ones are urgent and/or important, so you can prioritize appropriately
- Gamification: turning productivity into a game can help motivate you to stay on track. Here’s a great list of apps that help turn your everyday work into a game.
Aim for “business as usual.”
While your workplace and work day may look very different from what you’re used to, do your best to stick to business as usual. Continue setting goals, collaborating with your coworkers, setting hard deadlines, and holding regular (video conference) meetings. Don’t let the work-from-home situation derail you or your company’s overall goals and plans any more than it needs to. The less you can change about your day-to-day operations, the better.
Working from home isn’t necessarily ideal for everyone, but it doesn’t have to destroy your productivity or throw you completely off track. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success when working from home, and you’ll be more likely to stay on task and keep up with your workload.
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