Working from home has never been more popular. With 70% of employees working from home at least one day a week, more people are telecommuting than any other time in recent history. And that’s pre-pandemic! Almost one-third of the American workforce is working remoting during the COVID-19 outbreak. And if you’re working remotely, you need some work from home tips that will make you more productive. Tips that are backed by science, so you know that they’ll work.
And while there’s a lot out there about how to stay on top thing while working remotely, a lot of the advice seemed… obvious? Like, of course you’ll need a computer and internet access. We figured those are a given. And yes, we could all brush up on our video conference etiquette. But in terms of being maximally productive when working remotely? That’s what we wanted to find out.
So, if you’re a remote worker, here are 5 work from home tips that will make you more productive.
1. Set a Schedule (and stick to it!).
While it’s tempting to sleep in until 2 minutes before you need to start working, you’re better off getting up at the same time you would as if you were going into the office. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, your sleep schedule won’t be thrown off, so you’ll still arrive on time when you have to go into the office. Second, you can reclaim the time you would normally spend commuting and use it to set the tone for the rest of your day. You’ve now got time to start each day with a perfectly-brewed cup of coffee. You can get in a morning workout, prep a slow-cooker meal, or take time to read. Anything that will help you get ready for the day ahead.
And the set schedule extends beyond just getting out of bed. Use time blocking to dedicate parts of your day for deep work. And try to start and end your work day at the same time you normally would. One of the main complaints of frequent remote workers is that the line between being on and off work gets increasingly blurred. If your normal hours are 8 to 5, shut down your computer at 5:15 at the latest. You’ll reduce the risk of burning out and be better able to maintain a health work-life balance.
2. Use a Checklist to Stay on Track.
Take time at the start of your morning to outline your key goals you want to accomplish that day. A robust checklist will keep you from forgetting smaller tasks and make sure you stay on the ball. Plus, being able to cross something off your list after completing it gives you a little dopamine boost – adding to your sense of accomplishment and motivating you to get more done. Routinely using a checklist will train you to be more productive by encouraging goal-oriented behavior.
Sticking to a daily checklist will leverage the psychology of small wins and help you get more done in a given day.
3. Get Dressed.
A lot of people see working from home as an opportunity to make every day pajama day. But we’d caution against that. Now, we’re not saying you need to don a suit & tie – but putting on some casual athleisure can actually help you get more done. Humans love routine and your brain, ever efficient, uses coinciding stimulus to take shortcuts. When you get ready for bed by putting on your pajamas, your brain takes this as a cue to get ready to relax and go to sleep. Conversely, getting dressed and ready for the day primes your mind to start a productive workday. Take advantage of this Pavlovian response by putting on real clothes each day.
You clothes can still (and should!) be comfy, but just done work in what you wore to bed last night. The simple act of changing clothes (and staying in line with your normal morning routine) will tell your brain it’s time to buckle down and get to work.
4. Create a Productive Workspace.
Similar to not staying in pajamas all day, don’t work in your bedroom (if you have the option). At the very least, don’t work from your bed. Working from a bed can cross your wires in a couple ways. First, working from bed isn’t very ergonomic. Hunching over your laptop to answer emails for hours every day will cause significant neck and back pain.
Instead, set yourself up at a table with a chair that provides decent support. Raise your monitor to keep from craning your neck. You can also stack your laptop up on some books and use a blue tooth keyboard if you don’t have a separate monitor. Just because you’re not physically in the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow healthy workplace practices.
Where you work effects how you work. Find a spot that has strong WiFi and limited distractions. Good lighting is also your friend – avoid fluorescents or dim lighting. These can strain your eyes and cause headaches. Natural lighting from your window is totally free- and has been shown to increase productivity by 2%. Pump a little positivity into your workspace by keeping it uncluttered, having everything you need at your fingertips, and maybe adding a small potted plant.
5. Take Breaks.
Take a couple breaks throughout the day – and not just for lunch. Don’t that try to slog through 8 straight hours of work. You’ll become demotivated, less effective and burnt out. Give your brain time to rest. You’ll be far more productive if you do. Many swear by the Pomodoro technique. Researchers recommend taking at least one 15-minute break for every two hours of work – though other studies have shown that the ideal work rhythm is 45 minutes of work, followed by 10 minutes of rest.
And taking a break doesn’t mean checking emails or having a work-related phone call. Step away from your computer and do something completely unrelated to work. Going for a walk, breaking out your sketchbook, or checking out your favorite subreddits will let you brain recharge. When you’re not forcing your brain to engage directly with work, it still continues problem solving in the background. So when you actually get back to your computer 15-20 minutes later, you’ll churn out high-quality work.
People who work from home tend to be more productive than their in-office counterparts. Make sure you’re one of them by using these tips for when you’re working remotely. Taking to heart these 5 work from home tips that will make you more productive.