You may be surprised to learn that countless studies have found most people are actually more productive when working from home.
In a recent survey, Global Workplace Analytics found that remote workers were 20-25% more productive than office-based employees.
Obviously, it isn’t for everyone; however, sometimes, you have no choice but to work from home.
If you’re finding home-working challenging, then you may just need to re-evaluate how, where, and when you work, and implement new, more effective working practices.
To improve your productivity and get more done in the time available when working from home, you need to start with creating the best possible home office space. This is actually a lot easier than you might think.
Then, you need to work on the following strategies.
Defeat the distractions you can control, and embrace those you can’t
The temptation to make a few personal phone calls, play a video game, put some laundry on, pop out to the shop, etc, can be great when you haven’t got somebody watching your every move while you’re working from home.
However, giving in to these temptations can only end in one of two ways – and neither are good.
When you are repeatedly unable to complete all the work you have been set because you haven’t put all the hours in, then you risk being ultimately dismissed – or at least disciplined – by your employer. Alternatively, you will find yourself regularly working through the night to catch up.
Obviously, the solution to this problem is to develop greater self-discipline, and some find this easier than others.
But even if you have super-human self-discipline powers, you won’t always be able to avoid being distracted from time to time whilst working from home. And many unforeseen distractions often come when you least expect them.
The doorbell will ring, the phone will ring, pets will get up to no good, neighbours or friends may expect you to be available at all hours, hot water pipes may burst, children may be off school demanding your attention, etc, etc.
Whether you’re a parent, a pet owner, or you live on your own, you won’t ever be immune to distractions and interruptions of some sort.
On the other hand, working from home means that you can avoid the inevitable daily distractions of the typical office or workplace. You will be less likely to have to deal with interruptions from co-workers, time-wasting idle chat, and unproductive meetings.
Whether you commute to the workplace every day or you work from home, distractions are part and parcel of modern day life. Working on improving your self-discipline, and learning to accept and embrace unforeseen distractions, will enable you to develop strategies to reduce these interruptions over time.
Work when you’re most mentally alert
Remote working arrangements often allow employees to take at least some control of their working schedule, which can really boost productive output, whilst also enabling a healthy work-life balance.
Some people need their working schedule to fit in with other commitments such as raising children or caring for elderly parents, whilst others may do their very best productive work in the early hours (morning larks), or late at night (night owls).
Flexible working practices can enable you to work to your strengths – i.e. when you happen to be at your best, whether that is 4am, 1pm or 9pm. After all, we are all different, and not everybody is at their very best between the hours of 9-5.
Don’t remain in one place for too long
If you’ve ever experienced that feeling at 3pm in the office where you simply can’t focus on what you should be working on, it’s probably because you’ve spent far too long in the same environment.
The human brain needs variety if it’s to perform at its highest level. This is why it’s important to switch up your home working regime.
Spend an hour working in the kitchen, another at the dining room table and a couple of hours in your normal spare bedroom office. You’ll be amazed by the positive impact this has on your productivity levels.
Try using a different device
If you’re lucky enough to have more than one device on which you can work, switching that device can make a big difference to how productive you are.
For instance, if you do a fair amount of writing for work and have both a laptop and a tablet with a keyboard, try switching between the two of them.
This has the same effect as switching up your workspace, and can give your brain a fresh perspective on the task at hand.
Get outside if you can
If you have a garden and the weather is decent, spending some working time outside is a great strategy. You could do the same at a local park, of course.
The fresh air and the relaxing sounds of the natural world can do wonders for your physical and mental health, and can result in a more positive attitude towards your work.
Plus, working outside is just nice, isn’t it?
Get some daily exercise
This is productivity 101, but particularly important when you’re working from home and experience low levels of motivation.
Every day, take at least half an hour away from the grindstone to get some exercise. A walk, a run, or a HIIT session will fire up your brain and energy levels, and will make you feel far more positive and motivated to tackle any work challenges.
Working from home may not be the nirvana you expected, but it can certainly be enjoyable and extremely productive if you have the optimal environment and effective strategies in place.
To sum up – work on overcoming those self-discipline issues, accept and embrace distractions you can’t control, work at the times you’re at your peak, switch up your work space regularly, work outside on occasion, and get 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Then, go and smash that To Do list!