4 Tips to Working Productively From Home

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Whether you're a pro at working from home or get distracted easily, check out the following tips to help you maximize your productivity next time you're working from home.

1. Have A Dedicated Working Spot.

Remember when you were first learning how to drive? It took all of your concentration. Now, driving is second nature; steering, shifting, braking, accelerating--they became reflexive.

It's that reflexive nature that you want your brain to mimic when you enter your place set aside for working. 

You don't pull out the laptop at the gym. Why? Because your mind and your body know that the gym is for exercise, not business.

Having a specific spot for working tells your brain "It's time to work" when you get into that space.

This applies to attire as well. Working in Speedos or PJs isn't giving your brain the message that it's time to work. Just make sure it's comfortable enough not to become a distraction. 

Bottom line: you know what makes you tick, how you work best. The key is to be comfortable while remaining productive.

If you want to dig deeper on this topic, Garner IT Consulting has a whole article devoted to being comfortable and productive at your workplace(4).

2. Minimize Distractions.

Distractions come from everywhere, so let's focus on the hard ones to get rid of: the human distractions. 

You wouldn't yap to your best friend at work (unless of course you work with them), so don't talk to him/her when you're working from home.

What to do about it? Don't be accessible. It's OKAY to put your phone on silent mode and pretend you're not home when the doorbell rings.

 Cam Howey has this to say about mobile distractions in his summary of The ABC's of Time Management:

"Let staff and coworkers know what times you are available and what times you prefer not to be disturbed. Creating blocks of time morning and afternoon for major project work helps to improve productivity (2)"

3. Take Breaks.

Designated break times are just as important as designated work times.

10 minute breaks at regular intervals allow you to clear your mind and refocus. According to the Harvard Business Review,

". . .sporadic breaks replenish our energy, improve self-control and decision-making, and fuel productivity. Depending on how we spend them, breaks can also heighten our attention and make us more creative(3)."

Remember the key phrase, depending on how we spend them. Namely, the break should be a respite from work. So use these intervals to grab a quick snack, do some quick laps around the house, or refill your coffee. 

Taking those little power breaks also improves focus:

"When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. It’s a practice that encourages us to stay mindful of our objectives, and, as the authors of the study report, reliably contributes to better performance(3)."

 

 4. Reward Yourself.

Why do companies give bonuses? Without getting too deep into the intricacies of performance and reward, the simple answer is because they have a purpose:  

They incentivize, motivate and encourage. 

A study designed to examine the relationship between reward and employee performance found the following:

"Among all those factors which affect employee performance, motivation that comes with rewards is of utmost importance . . . there was a positive relationship between rewards and employees’ performance (1)"

Whether it means dedicating one of your breaks to be with a loved one or simply getting that frappuccino at the end of the day, set goals and reward yourself when you reach them!

 References:

 (1)  http://iosrjournals.org/iosr-jbm/papers/Vol6-issue2/B0620915.pdf

(2) http://www.perseenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ABCs-of-Time-Management-for-website.pdf

(3) https://hbr.org/2014/08/schedule-a-15-minute-break-before-you-burn-out/

(4) https://www.garner-it.com/blog/being-comfortable-and-productive-at-your-computer-workstation-part-one

 

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