Motivation discipline and productivity makes for a strong foundation for remote working – Irene Asare
For many of us, working from home sounded like the ultimate dream. Waking up 15 minutes before your first meeting, sauntering into your kitchen for a quick snack whenever you please, staying in your pajamas all day long – ah the good life. That is until the realities set in, you find yourself responding to emails well after the workday is over, your kids want you to play with them and the ongoing construction next door is making it impossible to think. Presenteeism and distractions were problems before the proliferation of COVID-19, however, the forcible shift to online working has intensified the problem with most leaders making the change to outcome-based management.
As the professional landscape permanently changes results will matter more than ever. Gone are the days of simply clocking in for the workday, managers now expect to see progress updates daily and employees face more pressure to be productive. Simultaneously adjusting to home working life comes with a unique set of challenges that counter productivity and can leave you feeling drained and overwhelmed.
As an individual, the balance lies in managing expectations and maximising your productivity. If you’re new to telecommuting this can seem like an impossible task but luckily isn’t. The key to mastering remote life is to optimise your workflow by sorting out when you work, where you work, and creating boundaries around your work life. Below I’ve shared a few of my favorite tips for improving your work from home life.
Start with a morning routine
When you’re working from home, it’s important to start your day off on a positive note. This means setting a routine that you can stick to. Include some of the things you would do if you were going into the office. For example, setting your alarm, completing your hygiene routine, changing out of your pajamas, having a cup of coffee and making your bed. This serves double duty helping to mentally prepare you for a productive day and also encouraging you to take some time out for yourself before diving into your work. It can be especially beneficial to those of us who find ourselves reaching for our phone to check our emails first thing in the morning.
Begin working as soon as you can
The earlier you start working the more productive you are likely to be throughout the day. Although it can be tempting to get lost in chores or childcare or even lounging throughout the morning, this is another boundary you have to set for yourself. The more you prolong starting on your to-do list the more difficult it will become. Conversely starting earlier will be imperative to making steady progress on it throughout your day.
Create a designated workspace
Not everyone is able to have an in-house office where they can almost guarantee silence. Many people want to work from a place of comfort such as their bed, but this may not bring the answers although it is highly tempting and comforting. If we do not have an already designated workspace that doesn’t mean that we cannot create one, all you need is a table, chair and a decent internet connection and you are good to go. This will help you create mental associations between your designated space and productivity.
Set work hours
When telecommuting, it is easy for people to start ignoring working hours and work at all manner of the day and night. However, as is key with all things, balance is needed. Work within your usual work hours. If you are working a 9-5 then work as you normally would. If you would usually end up having to spend a couple more hours in the office to finish tasks or attend meetings then do not drastically change this. Furthermore, enjoy your lunch break. You are in the comfort of your own home after all. As well as taking regular breaks, this helps to refresh and renew your mind.
Disable all distractions
This is one of the hardest things to do. Your phone and social media apps are designed to make you spend time on them. However, they can be a major source of distraction. Delete social media apps from your phone and log out of them on your web browser. You can also try using separate web browsers for your personal and professional time online so that the search engine doesn’t autofill any of your information when you are on work time.
Working without the direct supervision of your manager can allow people to take liberties with their work. Some will do as little as required and nothing more. Procrastination may become a true issue and must be addressed before it becomes habitual. This is a time where we need to hold ourselves accountable for our actions and stick to our deadlines.
A way of keeping to this is by having a schedule displayed in front of you at all times. At the end of each day set out the calendar for the next day. This makes it very clear what you are doing at all times and how to mentally prepare yourself for the following day. This takes a lot of self-discipline and if you struggle with this and want to cement that accountability then you can share your calendar with your supervisor.
Stay connected to your colleagues and supervisors
Loneliness is one of the drawback of remote work. People report feeling less connected to their colleagues and removed from company culture. It is important that you make use of technology to communicate with your colleagues and supervisors not only on professional topics but also on personal check-ins. Also, talk to your managers if you are struggling, they exist to help guide you through these challenging times.
I have implemented all of these tips since I’ve started working from home and they have drastically changed my productivity and overall wellbeing. Keep in mind that everybody is different so it might take a little bit of adjusting for you to find the flow that’s just right for you. Use the information I’ve provided as a jumping-off point and watch how your working life transforms!