HOW TO STAY PRODUCTIVE WHILE WORKING FROM HOME
The era of COVID has taught us the value of working from home and this lesson we will not take for granted. But with one solution comes another problem, the problem of dealing with the distractions at home while trying to get in productive hours of work.
There are a lucky few who have worked from home most of their lives way before the COVID restrictions and are already used to this lifestyle but many of us are struggling to adjust to this new development. This is especially challenging for people who have and live with their family in the same space that they are supposed to work from.
The number one challenge of working from home is the issue of going past the many distractions at home and the second is getting motivated, staying motivated and staying focused long enough to get good work done. In this article, I will give you a few ways to be productive as you work from home, especially when you have to work on you own time.
Create a work space
It is very important to separate your work life from your home life, even at home. The reason why going to the office works is because when you enter your office building, your mind enters work mode and you know that you are there to work only. This should apply in your work-from-home plan.
Either you have a room dedicated to working or you have an area in your room dedicated to working; the worse thing you can do to yourself is to work on your bed, this can lead to many distractions. So, create a work space dedicated to only your work and when you enter it, you know consciously that you are there to work. This way you won’t struggle to make your brain enter work mode.
Create a work schedule
Just like how you go to the office from 9:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M, creating a time schedule of work hours for yourself will keep you working within those hours no matter what; and this will make you more productive. Your work hours must not be six hours long but it must be something that will enable you to get things done; remember to give yourself a lunch break, just like you would if you went to work as usual. It is also important to let everyone at home know your work hours, so that they can respect your time and space.
Keep your desk and work space tidy
Speaking from experience, an unclean work space is very discouraging and can lead to outright lack of self-confidence in your work abilities and sometimes depression (my personal experience). There’s a saying that goes “de-clutter your space, de-clutter your mind” this is especially true when it comes to your work space and your work in general.
Imagine having an impromptu zoom meeting in which you have to find a file during the meeting in the midst of a cluttered desk. It won’t speak well of you, would it? No. A tidy workspace helps your work go smoothly, hence enhancing your productivity.
A hard day is not an excuse
When you go to work as usual, you don’t go back home just because the work before you is more difficult on that particular day. This applies to working from home. Just because things are more difficult that day doesn’t mean that you should give up and go and Netflix and chill. Train yourself to remain in your work space and continue working even if it becomes more difficult than usual.
If you leave your work space, it may be the beginning of procrastination and we all know that procrastination and productivity don’t mix.
A great tip for continuing work on a difficult day is to only look thirty minutes into the future, instead of thinking about the four hours of work you have left. Just focus on working for the next thirty minutes and then the next thirty minutes.
Turn off all electronic distractions
This article won’t be complete without making this point. Unless your work involves answering phone calls, you should turn off your telephone, Instant messaging apps and probably your internet connection if you have to.
You will be amazed at how focused you become when you don’t have your phone buzzing every 15 minutes. You can have a separate emergency line where the important people in your life can reach you during your work hours but that too should be as limited as possible.
Learn how to prioritise
The truth is that, no matter how much you try to minimise distractions while working from home; some distractions cannot be ignored. This is why the art of prioritising is very important. If you start your work day with a to do list of your most important tasks for the day, it will help you finish more important work tasks before distractions start to creep in. Before you start working, write down the tasks that are most important for the day according to their deadline and the amount of effort needed to complete them.
This is also important if you are working in a team and other peoples’ work is dependent on when you finish yours. It will also help if you knew the time of the day that you are most productive, so that you can do your most important work around this time. So prioritise!
Eat that frog
There is a book written by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog. This book talks about finishing your most difficult tasks first before moving on to easier tasks. Studies have shown that we are more likely to procrastinate our most difficult tasks. From experience, I have noticed that most of our most difficult tasks are also our most important tasks and they amount for 80 percent of our productivity.
How do you eat an Elephant? By eating one piece at a time. This is how you should approach your difficult tasks. Work on it, one piece at a time and you will finish it before you know it. Finish your most difficult tasks first, the relief you will feel from this is epic.
When you are done with work, be done with work
Last but not the least, when you are done with work, be completely done with it. Don’t think about it or go back to it; leave everything that is undone for the next day and give your brain a break. Sign off from every work email or work group and take the time to enjoy yourself, either by yourself or with friends and family. There will always be work to do, even if you work for 24 hours straight. With this in mind, leave your work space when work is over and do other things or relax and enjoy some leisure activities. This is crucial for your well-being.
Working from home is great, it gives you a certain kind of freedom that you won’t have if you couldn’t work at home. So, let’s be grateful that we have jobs and we can also do them from home.