Telecommuting has reached record popularity over recent years. In fact, about 70 percent of employees across the globe now work remotely at least one day per week. While a large number of professionals working from home are either freelancing or self-employed, many companies are now establishing a remote workforce, offering flexible opportunities to full-time employees, as well.
According to some research, this is a very smart move. Studies have shown that working from home can actually provide a significant boost to an individual’s productivity when approached correctly. Below are a handful of our favorite tips to increase focus and productivity when working from home.
Find the right workspace
Whether you’re working from home full-time or only one day a week, it is critical that you identify a place conducive to working. If you have extra space in your home, such as a study or guest room, consider setting up a designated “office”. This will provide you a quiet area where you can focus on work tasks - without being distracted by household duties, family members or other interruptions. It also helps you draw clear lines between your work hours and your time at home. If this isn’t an option due to space limitations, try converting a corner of your living room, kitchen or bedroom into a workspace. Regardless of where you choose to work, try to utilize a table or desk and a sit in a comfortable chair. Consider ergonomic best practices, too; it can be incredibly difficult to focus for long periods of time when you don’t have a comfortable place to work. Lastly, avoid working from the couch or your bed, as attempting to work in places where you typically relax will hinder productivity from the get-go.
Build your environment to enhance focus
When not working in a traditional office setting, and without co-workers or clients to be mindful of, it may be tempting to keep something like Netflix, TV news or a podcast on in the background. Unfortunately, these tend to be major productivity drains. Even if you think it’s harmless, your brain will have to work that much harder to focus and overcome the background noise. The best ambient noise to promote productivity is most often music without lyrics in whatever genre suits you best. If you use Spotify, Pandora or another streaming service, you may find there are curated playlists for studying, work, concentration and focus - any of which could be a recipe for success.
Eliminate distracting clutter
Clutter is one of the largest roadblocks holding you back from achieving the ultimate level of performance and productivity. It actually competes for your attention, which affects your ability to focus and process information, and can even increase stress and anxiety. If your home is overrun with notes, lists, documents, magazines, mail, books, cards, photos or other paper clutter, there’s a simple solution. Take your space back and lower the chances of losing important documents by scanning, storing and organizing your files with a digital filing system. Intuitive, easy-to-use scanners such as the ScanSnap iX100 and iX1500 digitize items in mere seconds. They even feature OCR technology (optical character recognition) which recognizes data and generates keywords - helping you to identify, sort and file documents automatically.
Stick to a schedule
A common side effect of working from home? Falling into an irregular schedule. As you don’t have a commute or a traditional office, it’s vital to set up boundaries between working hours and the rest of your life. Try to begin work at roughly the same time each day. Communicate this schedule to your family members or roommates so they understand when you are off-limits (even though you’re technically at home). Take breaks throughout the day. While working from home, people often feel compelled to do the dishes, take the dog on a walk or catch up on laundry. Don’t let these distract you from important work tasks, but all are excellent things to do on your allocated breaks. A mental and physical shift can break up the day, give you a chance to refresh your mindset and boost productivity. Perhaps most importantly, ensure you sign off at a consistent time at the end of each day. Once you transition into “home time”, avoid jumping back into work until the following day unless something absolutely urgent arises.
Restrict phone and social media usage
If feasible, book all of your calls within back-to-back timeslots each day. Doing this will allow you to build in other periods for “deep work” where you can concentrate on projects that require uninterrupted focus. This practice also enables you to set aside your phone for the rest of the day. Data shows that the average American picks up their phone at least 80 times each day. Checking messages, reading news and scrolling through social media may be a welcome distraction during breaks but, otherwise, doing so is a significant disruption to productive work intervals. To solve this issue and remove temptation, place your phone in a desk drawer, across the room or in the hallway - somewhere you can both hear and access it for timely calls or texts, but can also resist checking Instagram. An added bonus is that this habit also helps you reduce your overall screentime. For many remote workers in a digital-focused role, increased time on the computer and the resulting health effects are already a concern. Try to relax with non-digital activities during downtime to avoid clocking additional screen hours.
Do you work from home? What other strategies help you improve your productivity level?