Remote work can be extremely rewarding – you can work from anywhere without the normal office distractions. However, for the new remote worker, it can also be overwhelming. The comfort of home might prove to be too comfortable, or you may have trouble ever truly disconnecting.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all setup for working remotely. What works for some may not work for others. However, we’ve put together a list of performance boosting tips that have been used successfully in the past. We can’t promise all of these tips will work for you, but there’s a good chance you will find a few that will help boost your productivity.
Tip 1: Set up a dedicated workspace
One of the perks of working remotely is that you can work from wherever you want. Whether that’s from your bed, balcony, or somewhere else altogether, remote work comes with added flexibility.
However, for prolonged remote work, many have found a dedicated workspace helps keep them in the work mindset. When you’re not used to working from home, it may be hard to motivate yourself to sit still and put forth effort. For the uninitiated, the home might hold additional distractions – household chores, home entertainment, attention-seeking pets. But if you can set aside a spot exclusively for work, it might help you get into the mindset whenever you enter that space.
A committed work area can also help those who find it hard to stop working. By removing yourself from the workspace, it can help you mentally walk away from work, as well. For those who feel pressured to consistently be available, this added distance can be a relief.
A dedicated work space doesn’t have to be an entire room. It can be a certain seat at your dining room table or a corner of your bedroom with enough room for a desk.
When choosing a workspace location, it’s a good idea to keep as many potential distractions out of view. If you can’t stand the sight of dirty dishes, don’t work where you can see them. If your TV is a constant temptation, make sure it’s out of view.
Tip 2: Keep on top of communications
When working remotely, you may encounter new communication methods. You can’t just walk up to someone’s desk and ask a question so instead you need to rely on a slew of communication tools, like an instant messenger, email, and video chat.
Since you’re removed from the office setting, staying on top of your virtual communication is critical.We have two recommendations to help you out.
First, take the time to fine-tune your notification settings. Making sure communication notifications grab your attention can be a valuable tool to help keep your communications running smoothly.
Secondly, dedicate a set amount of time each day to going through all your unreads. This ensures that no messages fall through the cracks. This can be as simple as five minutes in the morning. Just do a once-over to make sure you haven’t missed anything and catch up on any messages that came in after hours.
Tip 3: When in doubt, communicate more
This tip is in the same vein as the last one. Communication is so important to being successful when you’re a part of a team. However, miscommunication can cause a lot of unnecessary work. And unfortunately, miscommunication can easily happen when working remotely.
That’s why one of our tips is to increase your communication levels. The more information you share and ask, the less likely it is that you’ll become a victim of miscommunication.
It can be helpful to schedule a recurring check in with your boss so that you can keep up-to-date and make sure you stay on track. That way, they stay in the loop and you can adjust your work if anything changes.
Tip 4: Schedule your breaks
Just because you work remotely, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks. In fact, there’s evidence that taking breaks can actually help you do your job better (read this Psychology today article for more on that).
But how do you know when to take a break? Some remote workers are adept at finding natural stopping points, then jumping back into work mode post-break. However, there are many who struggle with finding the right time to take a break or finding motivation once the break has ended.
Scheduled breaks are something to work towards, which can increase your motivation to work hard. This in turn gets rid of any guilt you may feel for taking a break. You can disconnect for a few minutes, relax, and give your brain some time to recharge.
Tip 5: Ditch the distractions
Without the threat of your boss walking by, it can be tempting to hop on your phone and check your messages or social media. However, this can be a slippery slope. A few minutes on your phone can easily turn into an hour of mindless scrolling.
To boost you performance, we recommend that you take your phone (or whatever tech you tend to waste time on) and place it out of your line of sight. If you can’t see it, sometimes this helps with the urge to use it.
Better yet, set rules for yourself. Struggle with hopping on social media during work hours? Only allow yourself to open social media during breaks.
Can’t resist the urge to reply to texts? Turn your notification sounds to silent during work hours.
There are also productivity apps out there that will block you from the social media site after a certain period of time. Check out a list of those here (some of them work for computers, too!): 10 Apps that Block Social Media So You Can Stay Focused and Be More Productive.
For added incentive, you can use a software, like RescueTime, to show you exactly where you spend your time. When presented with the breakdown, it can be a real eye opener to see exactly what you spend the most of your time on.
Tip 6: Save the chores for later
If you work from home, it can be enticing to bundle your normal workday with your household chores. A little labor for work, a little labor for you.
Now, there is nothing wrong with taking a break to go flip your laundry. As we said before, breaks can be beneficial for your productivity. However, it can become a problem when you prioritize work around the house over your profession.
If you have trouble resisting the urge to tidy around you when working remotely, here are a few things to try:
- Finish all your chores after work hours, so you don’t feel the urge when working
- Sit in a place where you won’t be reminded of the house work
- If you are scheduling breaks from work, use these to do your household chores
- Use household work as a timer. For example, throw a load of laundry in, work hard for an hour, then take a short break to flip your laundry.
Tip 7: Mimic the Office
Working from home can be confusing. You’re in a place where you normally relax, so your urges can get jumbled if you also work in the same place. It can drain your motivation, if you’re not careful.
For some, mimicking the office work routine can significantly help them increase motivation. By rising at the same time, putting on a professional outfit, and working the same hours, you can set up a work routine. If you keep your office routines, it can help orient your day toward office efficiency (but with none of the normal office distractions).
Tip 8: Work in short bursts
Working in short bursts, or “sprints,” can help boost your productivity. Sprints work like this: you set a timer, then work at full throttle for that time. When the time is up, you get a break. Then repeat.
Because sprints give you an instant reward for your work, it can help inspire motivation to put 100% effort in. Plus, it’s an added bonus for those easily distracted by house chores. The post-sprint breaks are a great time to flip your laundry or get some extra dishes done.
The only thing you need to successfully complete a sprint is a timer. You can use any timer, but if you’re looking for a timer specifically designed for sprints, check out TomatoTimer. It has a twenty-five minute sprint timer, with a five and ten minute break timer.
Tip 9: Remember to Disconnect
Many think that the biggest challenge of remote work is not getting distracted, and for some that is true. However, much more often, it’s actually the opposite that becomes the problem. When working remotely, people often feel like they need to be online and available constantly. This is exhausting and can quickly lead to burn out. Here are a few things you can do to help combat this:
- When you log off, you’re unreachable (except for one channel that can be used in emergencies). Disable notifications for a certain time period, set yourself to Do Not Disturb when logging off for the night. Close all work applications.
- If you have power over your hours, create a typical schedule and try to stick to it.
- Shun distractions. One reason some are so apt to stay online all the time is that they get distracted throughout the day and their way to make up for it is to never log off. If you put in the work, you’ll feel justified when you log off.
- If you truly cannot disconnect due to the nature of your job, it can feel like a losing battle. However, there may be steps you can take to minimize the need for you after your normal hours. For example, extra training for staff, clear processes for staff to take before contacting you, etc.
Remember, no one is the same, so some tips may be better suited for you than others. However, finding what works for you is a process. We recommend trying the tips out before writing them off. You never know – you may unlock the key to greater productivity.
Stay tuned for more remote-friendly topics in the coming weeks.