For many professionals in office settings, the day is relatively structured. You commute to work, either walking, by public transit, or in your car, and you might grab a coffee on the way. Once you’re there, you have your “good morning!” round before settling into your workspace and firing up your computer. Perhaps your team has a standing meeting at 9:15 every day, or the office generally breaks and gathers near the coffee pot to catch one another up on projects.
At some point in the day, you take your lunch, and – when the day ends, you turn off your computer and leave the office. Sure, lots of other things happened between arrival and departure but, ultimately, the boundaries of work space and home are pretty obvious.
But that’s simply not the case if you’re working from home.
It can be hard to keep productivity up when your bed, couch, and favourite TV shows are within arm’s reach. Here are a few productivity tips that can help you remain focused when working remotely.
Set up a designated workspace
It needn’t be fancy, but find a space in your home that’s YOUR workspace. If you have a desk or office space, you’re all set, but if not – don’t panic. Maybe it’s your kitchen counter or dining room table. Set yourself up with everything you need: notebook, pens, mouse, keyboard, monitor (if you have one) and make it comfortable and tidy.
Create a routine – or stick to your existing one
If you’d normally get up for work at a certain time, eat breakfast, and then head to work, try to maintain some semblance of that routine when you work from home. Continue to get up at a set time and go through your normal motions: shower, get dressed, walk the dog, make coffee, eat breakfast.
Set aside time each day to eat your lunch. Get up and walk around the house – or, if you’re able to, get outside for a few minutes.
If you’re a manager, maintain the regular team meetings you’d ordinarily host in-office via Zoom or Google hangouts. A quick 15-20 minute chat about who’s working on what or where things lie in the pipeline can help everyone focus on important tasks and improve productivity when working remotely.
Leverage technologies to stay connected
Slack. Zoom. Skype. FaceTime. Google Hangouts. Introhive. The options to connect with colleagues and customers or clients are almost endless and, when you’re working remotely, the right technology can really help you feel connected to others. Even a quick phone call brings a personal touch to communication that’s lost over email or instant messaging and can replace the quick conversations you might be used to having in the office when you’ve got an issue you’re working through.
Set daily goals and communicate with your team
It’s easy to say you’re going to do something, but it’s another thing altogether to hold yourself accountable to them! Communicate regularly with your team or direct supervisor about your daily goals to help keep yourself on track. When setting goals each day, ask yourself if they are SMART goals:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
In addition to communicating your goals with the team, be sure to keep the lines of communication open when you might feel like you’re running off-course or hitting roadblocks along the way. Regular communication keeps everyone feeling connected but also supports collaboration, no matter how far apart you are geographically.
Go home (even if you’re already there)
At the end of your workday, close your laptop and notebook, clear your workspace, and actually end your workday. Maintaining a work/life balance (or juggling act!) is especially important when home and office are rolled into one space.
Again, communicate to your team what hours you’ll work each day and do your best to be consistent with your WFH routine.
Maybe you mark the end of your workday by changing into more comfortable clothes or by going for a walk. Whatever you do, create a routine that helps you separate yourself from work and settle into your home-time. This separation will help you avoid burnout which, in turn, helps you maintain productivity while working remotely in the long run.