The kids are running around. Laundry is piling up. The dog needs to go out. The desire to binge-watch just one more episode on Netflix is strong. When you’re working from home, there can be a lot of distractions. It can be tough to stay on task and on schedule without working at it.
Studies show that remote workers are more productive than those in a traditional workplace. They feel reduced stress from commuting, a break from office politics, and they tend to work longer hours. However, none of that happens without blocking out these distractions and creating your own workplace discipline. It starts by setting a regular schedule.
Set A Regular Schedule
That means starting your workday at the same time each day. Avoid sleeping in on days when you can or hitting the snooze alarm one more time. There may not be a boss watching what time you come to work, but a consistent start time helps sets the tone for productivity outside of the office
Take Regular Breaks
Take regular breaks throughout the workday. Research shows that your mind tends to tune out details when you are working on one project for too long. Long stretches of work can induce cognitive boredom. Have you ever tried to read a document and find you’ve read the same passage more than once and still fail to retain the information? Set short breaks of 10 to 15 minutes every 1-2 hours when working on a specific task.
End on Time
When you’re working in an office, there’s a time in the day when everyone wraps up and starts to head home. It’s OK to leave. After all, it’s quittin’ time! When you’re working remotely, it can be too easy to keep going to finish a project. For some, there’s the feeling that you have to keep going as a trade-off for working remotely. Lose the guilt! Quit when it’s time.
Prepare for the Next Day
Take a few moments at the end of the day to prep for the next day. Prioritizing your work for the next morning can help you get started more quickly.
Part of the preparation means taking care of yourself and limiting possible distractions that could cause problems the next day. If the dishes piling up in the sink drive you crazy, clear them off before you head to bed. That can help minimize the distraction the next day.
Take some time to wind down, relax, and make sure you're rested for the next day. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to operate at peak performance. Most people think they are just as productive getting far less sleep. The reality is that very few people can get by with less.
Have a goal for each day. Whether you’re a list maker or a scheduler, focus on your priorities and break down big projects into manageable chunks. Organizing your day, setting your priorities, and minimizing distractions help to create the discipline needed for efficient remote work.
Manage Your Workplace
Managing your workplace means having the right tools to work from home – hardware and software and an environment conducive to work.
If you’re working at home, it helps to have a designated space where you can shut out any hustle and bustle around you. If you have a family, set parameters. For example, if you’re working in a room with a door, tell them not to interrupt when the door is closed. Only close it for those moments when you need privacy, such as during a video call.
If remote work is still in place for your office when your town or city begins reopening, opening up, it's going to be tempting to try working someplace besides your home. But remember: public places can be loud. If you’re going to work at the coffee shop, make sure you’ve got what you need to block out the distractions. If you’ve got a deadline-critical project that you need access to the company servers or have to email at a certain time, make sure you’ve got a backup plan in case the WiFi goes out or gets overloaded.
Working remotely can be rewarding. It can also be isolating.
It will take effort to maintain communication with your boss and your co-workers. Leverage collaboration tools to keep a constant line of communication with other team members in the office. Schedule regular times to talk with your team and make time for informal connections.
Even if it’s not required for your job, over-communication should be the rule when working remotely. You need to make sure you’re not forgotten or taken for granted. It never hurts to remind the team why you’re valuable and the contributions you’re making.
At the same time, be disciplined about your communications. When you’re taking a break or eating lunch, step away from your workplace. Turn off the notifications on your email and avoid the temptation to keep checking it. If it’s an emergency, someone will call.
Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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