Table of Contents
Telecommuting, teleworking, or what we basically know as working from home (WFH), is becoming more popular in the job market today. Many workers enjoy the flexible workspace and flexible schedule WFH brings. However, how do you maintain productivity while working in the comfort of your home rather than an office?
The habits you must develop to be productive working from home include creating and sticking to a schedule, avoiding distractions when working, improving your communication skills, and learning to balance your personal and work life. Bottom line: WFH calls for self-discipline.
This article will:
- Help you identify the essential habits you must develop to productively work from home.
- The importance of being productive while working remotely.
- The essential tools you need to work remotely.
Develop Habits To Be Productive Working From Home
Wow! You’re finally living your dream life. Waking up at your preferred time, no more commuting stress, wearing casual clothing every day of the week (even if it means being in your pajamas all day long), and working from the comfort of your home.
It’s the ultimate lifestyle you’ve always desired, right? While it may seem enticing to you, do you have what it takes to achieve peak productivity working from home?
Equipping yourself with the essential WFH tools doesn’t guarantee productivity. You need to develop practical habits that’ll foster your productivity. Therefore, without any further ado, let’s dive right into the seven essential habits that you must develop to remain productive, shall we?
1. Designate a Dedicated Working Space
For a successful work from home experience, you need a dedicated working space. A good working space creates the mood and ambiance of a real physical office. You learn to associate your working space with work, meaning that you’ll always be psyched up for work despite being away from your office cubicle.
You should always see your home office like a ‘real’ office cubicle. Invest in good furniture and office equipment that’ll give it a professional look. The more professional your working space appears, the more office ambiance it creates.
And while the flexible working space concept gives you the free will to work from your place of choice, you’ll want to avoid places such as your bed or the sitting room where there are many distractions.
If you don’t have a separate room within your house to use as an office, think about getting room dividers, if you have the space for them. Room separators or dividers help create physical boundaries separating your workspace from other areas within your house.
However, if you live in a tiny apartment or don’t feel comfortable working from the house, you can consider working from a public or shared working space. Additionally, you can work from libraries or coffee shops, whichever deems fit for you. Working away from home gives your mind a break from the real situation at home while still fighting loneliness.
Whichever place you choose to work from, ensure it’s conducive, and you’re comfortable enough working from it. For maximum results, you can consider changing your workplace regularly to reduce monotony and test which space suits you well.
2. Create a Schedule That You’ll Stick To
Much like working from the office, WFH also calls for a work schedule. To develop a good work schedule, you should test several factors to see what works for you. For example, are you more active in the morning or at night? Knowing this helps in creating a workable schedule that you can stick to.
If you’re a morning person, you can develop a morning routine where you wake up early and handle the demanding tasks when your mind is still fresh and active. You can then tackle the less demanding tasks throughout the rest of the day.
You’ll also want to know what triggers your productivity. Is it an early morning jog? What about an afternoon walk with your pet? A cold shower? A warm cup of coffee?
Knowing what can boost your productivity can help you organize your schedule so that you know what to do when your work psyche goes down.
For practical purposes, ensure you include breaks within your schedule, which include tea and lunch breaks where you can spend some time away from your desk, allowing you to refresh your mind.
Your schedule should be practical enough such that it gives you time to socialize or interact with your family. Don’t assume you can sit at your desk from sunrise and work through to sunset without any breaks. Doing this may cause burnouts which negatively affect your productivity and general social life.
You’ll want to keep adjusting your schedule whenever the need arises to tailor it to your best interests. If you can’t come up with a customized schedule, you can choose to stick to the 9-5 office schedule.
3. Avoid Distractions From Family or Friends
One of the main challenges remote workers face is saying ‘no’ to distractions. Although distractions are present in almost every work environment, they tend to persist when remote workers blend their workspace and personal space. You have to stay motivated and avoid them!
For example, while working in the living room, you might be tempted to watch your favorite show’s latest episode as you work. While this may seem like a great idea, it may tremendously reduce your productivity.
Other forms of distractions experienced by remote workers include interruptions by kids or spouse, scrolling through social media, running personal errands, preparing lunch, and going out for coffee. Additionally, distractions when working from home may come when you’re tempted to do laundry, wash dirty utensils, exercise, or groom your pet.
Which other distractions do you often encounter?
To achieve peak productivity, you should learn how to shut down distractions. For example, if you are lucky to have a separate room as a home office, you can shut the door to stop interruptions from kids or your spouse. It’s also important to inform those around you that they should limit distractions when you’re working unless it’s an emergency.
You should try to avoid working from areas prone to distractions, such as the living room where your TV will remind you of the latest episode on your Netflix craze. Additionally, you can turn off social media notifications when working, or learn to ignore the dirty laundry or dirty dishes on the sink when it’s work time.
Finally, you should organize your schedule to cater for workout time and ample time to run personal errands.
Shutting down distractions allows you to concentrate on the tasks beforehand, increasing your productivity.
4. Communicate With Co-Workers
When working from home, you should develop a habit of communicating with your colleagues and other involved parties more often.
Communication is key in every organization or enterprise. Without a sound communication plan, vital information may be misunderstood or will never be communicated. Therefore, although teleworking deprives one of the privileges of person-to-person communication, you need to foster work relationships by developing an ideal communication plan.
Here’s what you can do:
- Be proficient with email and other virtual communication apps since they will be your new communication tools.
- Set some time in your busy schedule to catch up with your colleagues, and inform them of what you are working on while learning of their progress. Active communication helps you keep track of what’s happening within your circle and reduces boredom and loneliness.
- Try to be active in team chats and virtual meetings. Maintaining an active communication network keeps you in people’s minds and exposes you to new opportunities and workplace positions.
5. Practice Good Meeting Etiquette
Unlike working in a physical office where you go for physical meetings, telecommuting brings virtual meetings and conferences. These virtual meetings are conducted using meeting apps such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Slack. Therefore, this means you have to be proficient with these apps to be on the same page with the rest of the team members.
Despite not being physically present in a meeting hall, it’s good to adhere to the standard meeting etiquette.
During virtual meetings, you need to be on time and show up for the meeting at the stated time to avoid missing out on any vital information discussed.
You’ll need to keep your camera on unless otherwise instructed. Unlike physical meetings where you have to be disciplined because of the eye-to-eye contact with other members, virtual meetings lack this aspect.
If the camera isn’t turned on, participants would be doing anything on the other end, from preparing food to doing laundry. Therefore, for virtual meetings, turning the camera on is considered good meeting etiquette.
It not only helps you stick to your good manners but also helps others feel your real presence. Additionally, having the camera on helps when you use non-verbal cues to express your points.
Another good meeting etiquette for virtual meetings is taking notes. Regardless of how digital you consider yourself, you may need to take notes on important points in case you forget.
Last but not the least, be dressed for the meeting. Most remote workers often overlook this point and end up showing up for virtual meetings dressed in their pajamas or very casual outfits. Remember your mode of dressing and how you carry yourself during virtual meetings silently says a lot about you.
In a nutshell, if you are attentive and disciplined enough during virtual meetings, the probability of missing out on vital information is very low. As a result, you get a clear picture of what is expected of you, and you may also get some insights from other members on how to boost your productivity.
6. Learn To Balance / Separate Your Personal and Work-Life
Establishing and maintaining a clear balance between your personal and work life puts you a step closer to boosting your productivity. While it may sound simple, it’s easier said than done, as many remote workers have a challenge separating their personal and work life.
Most of them end up with blurred lines.
With blurred lines, it becomes hard to unplug from one aspect of your life to the other. You may find yourself spending a lot of time on non-work-related issues, which reduces your productivity. Additionally, you may also spend a lot of time working at the expense of your social life.
Working for long hours causes burnout leading to stress, fatigue, and reduced work output.
Therefore, to derive the most from your remote working experience while still reaching your peak productivity, you should have clear boundaries between your two essential aspects of life.
For this to work, you should separate your working and resting areas and avoid working from the couch or the bed, where you often relax and unwind.
Additionally, if possible, consider having a door or room divider to separate your working area from the rest of the house. This helps your mind learn when to concentrate on work issues and when to focus on social or personal matters. Getting into your secluded working space and locking the door behind you means it’s time for serious business.
If this doesn’t seem to work for you, consider using different outfits. You can avoid working in pajamas and have a specific set of clothes or shoes that you wear when working. Removing the work attire indicates it’s time to focus on your personal life.
Avoid eating your breakfast, snack, or lunch from your working area. Take your work breaks seriously and use them to relax away from your work desk.
You can also consider setting your work-related electronics such as computers, work phones, and tablets out of your arm’s length. You also might want to turn off your work email notifications to have ample time to focus on your personal life.
7. Be Accountable
The freedom of working remotely doesn’t work in favor of all remote employees. Some of them aren’t disciplined or accountable enough to work independently without any supervision. Therefore, to be productive working from home, you need to be accountable. Accountability refers to the state of being responsible for your actions.
One way of being responsible is learning to manage your time effectively. Having a work schedule and a well-crafted to-do list gives you a clear outline of what you should be doing at a particular time. Each minute within your day should be earmarked for a specific task, be it work or personal issues.
If you aren’t good at timekeeping, set alarms to notify you when to change from one task to another, which can work wonders for you.
Additionally, set realistic and achievable goals. Don’t be overambitious when setting your work goals, because setting unrealistic goals may cause you stress, which ends up reducing your productivity. It’s important to take things slow.
However, taking things slow doesn’t mean you should laze around. It simply means you shouldn’t overwork or overburden yourself, causing physical, mental, and emotional burnouts.
Since you’ll have no leader to supervise how you work, you should be your boss, which means you should learn to work under no supervision. The prevailing circumstances in an office (presence of supervisors or strategically positioned CCTV cameras) force you to be at your best behavior during work hours.
You should try to maintain the same discipline when working from home. Good discipline or behavior means learning to shut down distractions, sticking to your schedule, and striving to meet your goals.
If you adopt these simple habits when working from home, you’ll enjoy a smooth working experience and most likely achieve peak productivity.
Importance of Being Productive Working From Home
Why do you strive to be productive at work? Some of the main reasons might include the need to achieve your goals and increase your career growth and development chances. While it’s easier to remain productive in the physical office, it can be difficult to stay productive when working remotely.
Working from the office means you need to stick to a specific work schedule while being focused on what’s required of you since your manager might be within proximity. However, working from home gives you the free will to tailor your schedule to your needs, and this is where most remote employees mess up.
Some end up focusing more on non-work-related issues, causing reduced productivity.
Additionally, the one thing about working from home that most remote workers like, but which may work against them, is the privilege to work under no supervision. Although remote working conditions may seem enticing, they can decrease your productivity if you aren’t disciplined or accountable enough.
Therefore, to be on the safe side, you need to do anything within your power to remain productive. You should strive to increase your productivity compared to when working from the office.
Here are some reasons why it’s important to be productive while working from home:
- It helps you reach your goals and targets quickly.
- Reduces chances of missed deadlines.
- Increases chances of personal and professional growth.
- Reduces stress and fatigue, which promotes your general well-being.
- Offers a good work/life balance.
- Fosters good work relationships by painting a good image of you and shows you’re a reliable employee.
- Reduces wasted time, money, and other resources.
Essential Tools To Be Productive Working From Home
Now that you know the advantages of being productive working from home, let’s look at the essential tools you need to achieve peak productivity. To begin, you need a conducive working space. While this doesn’t sound like a ‘real’ tool, a home office space ideally houses all other essential working tools that’ll boost your productivity.
Before getting furniture or office equipment, you should first designate a dedicated working space. A dedicated working space doesn’t mean you should rent out or build an extra room. No, all you need here is a little creativity.
You can use your study room, a section of your bedroom, balcony, or even your dining area. In short, you can use any available space within your house provided it’s conducive.
So, with your remote office well set, you now need to work on the tools you’ll need, which include:
Office Chair and Desk
You need to invest in a good chair and desk that will allow you to be productive. Get an ergonomic chair that’s comfortable sitting on to reduce the risk of back pains and other health complications.
You’ll also want to get an adjustable chair to adjust the height depending on your preference. An example of a good office chair worth investing in can be found on our resources page recommending home office desk and chair ideas.
Pair your ergonomic chair with a sturdy desk or table. It should have a flat and smooth top wide enough to accommodate your laptop or desktop, monitor, printer, headlamp, and a few other essentials.
Laptop or Desktop Computer
Depending on your preference, you can get either a laptop or desktop computer. Whichever option you choose, ensure the device is functional and compatible with the software programs you’ll use.
There are pros and cons of using either a laptop or desktop computer. The most popular advantage of getting a laptop is its portability. If you’ll be changing your location from time to time, it’s good that you go for a laptop.
On the other hand, desktops are advantageous because of the higher specs they have compared to laptops. They have greater internal space availability, the potential for a higher power draw, and the ability to run at a much cooler temperature.
So, if your work needs you to have the best gadget, you should perhaps go for a desktop.
High-Speed Internet and a Decent Modem
Given that you’ll now be doing almost everything online, from basic communication to virtual meetings, you need a strong and reliable internet connection. Therefore, you should invest in a reliable home internet package and modem to improve your home data’s speed and efficiency.
Don’t just sit back and rely on what your ISP provides. Go the extra mile and invest in a ‘proper’ modem to avoid disappointments caused by data hiccups.
Now that you’ll no longer have the privilege of walking over to someone’s desk to ask a question or clarify an issue, you should invest in virtual communication apps. These include Slack and Google Hangouts, among other apps that your employer may recommend.
Additionally, you should be competent with email since it may become your primary form of communication.
Virtual Meeting and Conferencing Apps
When working from home, you’ll need to occasionally have virtual meetings with your co-workers and supervisors. So you’ll need the latest conferencing apps installed on your computer, phone, or tablet for conducting virtual meetings. These apps include Zoom and Google Meet, to mention a few.
Headset and Microphone
You’ll need a good pair of headsets and microphones, which come in handy when responding to work calls or during virtual meetings. Headsets help block any external noise and also allows you to hear your colleagues without any distractions.
On the other hand, a good microphone makes your voice audible and clear.
However, if your job doesn’t require you to talk with people or have virtual meetings, you might not need these items. For example, if you’re a writer or editor, and your work is completely online without the need for conferencing, then a headset and microphone might be luxury items you don’t need.
A Desk Lamp and Other Tools
Given that you’ll have a flexible working schedule, you may consider working late in the night (that’s if you are a night person). In this case, you need a good lamp to illuminate your working space.
Other tools you may need include a printer, pen and notebook, pen holder, calendar, and alarm clock. The additional essential may vary based on your preference.
Dos and Don’ts When Working From Home
If you have a dilemma wondering what to do or not to do when telecommuting, we’re here for you. We’ve come up with a list of dos and don’ts when working remotely, which may boost your productivity.
- Prepare a dedicated working space
- Set your ideal work hours and stick to them
- Invest in the right equipment
- Make a to-do list
- Make time for breaks
- Communicate with your team often
- Dress appropriately during virtual meetings
- Embrace self-discipline and accountability
- Define boundaries between your personal and work-life
- Have time to socialize
- Use extra time positively to polish up or learn new skills
- Don’t force yourself to stick to the standard 9-5 work schedule
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
- Don’t procrastinate
- Avoid doing any house chores during work time
- Don’t lose track of time or let a day slip away
- Avoid working in pajamas
- Don’t work from just anywhere, for example, from your bed or the couch watching TV
- Avoid getting distracted by social media or other personal or social issues
- Don’t remain stuck to the screen 24/7
Working from home may be here to stay. As a result, you may continue working from home longer than you expected. Therefore, it’s important to adopt habits that will increase your productivity which include:
- Designating a dedicated working space
- Developing a work schedule
- Avoiding distractions
- Communicating with your colleagues more often
- Practicing good meeting etiquette
- Separating work and personal life
- Being accountable
Good luck working from home!