5 ways to work from home more efficiently
For a lot of people, the thought of working from home can be a daunting one. Sure, it has its benefits: flexibility, avoiding traffic, autonomy, working in your own space. But as Time Magazine points out, working remotely can be a double-edged sword. All of a sudden, the pile of dirty dishes in the sink can look more appealing than your boss’s to-do list. Netflix, Hulu, Disney +… streaming services or procrastination excuses? Lack of motivation and boredom can often take over. So here at Happi Digital, combining our own experience with advice from professionals, we’ve compiled a list of 5 things to help you work from home more efficiently.
1. Set up a workspace
“It definitely helps if you have a dedicated space for working from home,” says remote worker Matt Haughey, creator of the long-running community weblog MetaFilter, and writer for Slack. Ideally, try and designate a dedicated spot to set up your work space, an area that you can associate with your job and leave when you clock out for the day. Avoid laying on the couch and definitely get out of bed. Sitting upright at a desk, in a quiet, bright, cool room is what is recommended for most people. Plants, a clock, sticky notes, a calendar… If you’re working home long term, it might be helpful to decorate your space so that it’s aesthetically pleasing and it’s associated with something positive. But as long as you feel comfortable and are motivated, it doesn’t matter what your work space looks like. As long as it works for you.
2. Reduce distractions
A lot of people find that working at home means having to deal with an influx of distractions. Kids, housemates, social media, phone calls from family; it can be hard to focus on work when there’s so much going on. Controlling how and when you allow yourself to heed distractions can help minimise exposure and procrastination. Setting up in a room away from family members or housemates, such as an office or a bedroom instead of a family room, is likely to be more conducive to reduce distractions. If you have a specific task to complete, then disabling email alerts and turning your phone to aeroplane mode can help reduce distractions
3. Make a plan/ Set a schedule
Act as if it is a normal day at the office. Get up at your usual time, have a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast. Mentally prepare yourself the same way you would if you were going into your office. Durham University’s Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen recommends that people who are working alone should keep a more structured daily schedule than usual. “Usually our time and the structure of our day are influenced by other people,” she says. “You’re going to experience your day as lacking the normal structures that you usually have. People might have a hard time dealing with it. So one of the things that we found in our trying to understand solitude, is that time spent alone is better if it’s structured.” The good thing about working from home is that there is more possibility for creating a schedule that best suits you. This can mean taking multiple small breaks throughout the day, getting outside for fresh air, cooking meals at your leisure and setting goals that work for you. As long as the work is done, your daily schedule can look however you want it to.
4. Celebrate your wins
Motivation can be difficult when working from home. For some people, the monotony of working from home can be overwhelming. It’s in this mindset that distractions look most appealing, trust us, we’ve all been there. One way to maintain momentum and curve boredom is to acknowledge what you have been able to accomplish that day, rather than fixating on what you still need to do. “Take some time at the end of the day to attend to the things that you got done instead of the things you didn’t get done,” says Steven Kramer, a psychologist and author of The Progress Principle. A physical to-do list is a great way to visually see what you accomplish, and acts as encouragement to continue working through the list. A diary that lists the things you were able to check off serves as a daily reminder of what you were able to finish and will help create a virtuous cycle going forward.
5. Ask for help if you need it
Lastly, if you’re struggling with technical issues, a heavy workload or motivation, mention it to someone. Whether it’s your boss, a colleague or a friend, don’t suffer in silence. This is a difficult time for everyone, and whatever problem you have, there’s someone going through the same. In the words of Harvard Business Review, the days when working from home conjured an image of a slacker in pyjamas are rapidly disappearing. Due to technological advances and employers looking to lower costs, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, nowadays more and more people are working from home than ever before. By one estimate, telecommuting increased in the U.S. by 80% between 2005 and 2012. Another benefit is that working from home can mean a marked increase in output. A Stanford University study found that the productivity of employees who worked from home was 13% higher than their office-bound colleagues. According to Steven Kramer, “of all the things that can boost people’s work life, the single most important is simply making progress on meaningful work.”