Employees in the USA are working remotely more than ever before, according to a Gallup survey. The State of the American Workplace Report found that 43% of employed Americans worked remotely at some point in 2016. This is a 4% increase since 2012 and represents the upward trend of employees that are working from home.
Many companies are shifting towards allowing employees to work from home, as it offers a number of advantages. Employees who work from home generally have higher job satisfaction and morale and telecommuting saves the company money because they are not providing computers, electricity and other utilities. Also, hiring remote workers means that you can hire the most skilled talent for the job, no matter where they are located.
Plus, according to this Stanford study, employees who work from home are 13% more productive compared to their in-office counterparts.
However, although working from home means that you are away from the distractions of chatty co-workers and long meetings, it brings with it another set of potential distractions that could sabotage your productivity.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind that will help you stay productive when you are working from home.
1) Get Dressed
Just because you can spend your workday in your pajamas, it doesn’t mean that you should. When you are working in your sleepwear, it can send a powerful subconscious signal to your brain that what you are doing is not serious.
Getting dressed for working at home will put you in the “work mode” mindset, even if no one sees you. The clothes act as a reminder of what you are supposed to be focused on. Otherwise, if you are too comfy in your pajamas, slippers and bathrobe you might find yourself back in bed.
Also, changing out of your pajamas and into work clothes will also help to create a separation of your work time and your relaxation time. You can even change back into your comfy sweatpants at 5pm when your work is done, to give yourself a distinct shift into downtime.
2) Create a Separate Workspace
Just as it is important to create a clear delineation between your relaxation clothes and your work clothes, it’s also important to allocate a space in the home that is dedicated to getting work done. It’s part of the mental shift of seeing at-home work as serious, focused work. You’ll train your brain to know that when you sit down at the “office” it’s time to work.
Whatever you do, don’t try to work on the couch or in bed. It’s very difficult to get into the mindset of being productive when you are curled up somewhere comfy. You don’t need to have a fully equipped office with a printer and a high tech swivel chair, but you should at least be sitting up at a desk or a table.
If you are lucky enough to have a home large enough to dedicate an entire room to your office, this is deal. You will even be able to claim the home office tax deduction on a percentage of your home. However, if you don’t have room for an office there are other alternatives. You could set up your desk in the corner of a room and use portable screens to make it feel more separate and private.
3) Make it Clear to Family Members You Are Working
If anyone else who lives in your house is going to be home while you are working, make sure that they understand not to interrupt you while you are working. It might look like you are just hanging out at home and it can be tempting for them to start conversations with you or ask you questions.
It can often help to put on big headphones and listen to music while you work. Not only can the music help you to focus, but the headphones are also a visual signal to anyone else in the house that you are not to be disturbed.
4) Track Your Time
Let’s be honest, how much time do you spend on distracting websites like Twitter and Facebook during your workday? How often are you checking your email? Could you be working more productively?
According to this infographic, the average employee checks their email 36 times per hour. Every time an incoming email comes in and is handled, it takes an average of 16 minutes to get refocused on the task you were working on before. Approximately 60% or less of work time is actually spent productively.
That’s quite a shocking statistic and it may be hard to believe at first. However, it’s easy to see once you start tracking the time you spend working and distracted time.
If you are using the Boomr mobile app to track your hours while working, try tapping the green ‘Start Timer’ button at the bottom of the screen when you are actually working and stop the timer when you take a break to check Facebook or watch that cute cat video. It’s very helpful to measure something if you are trying to improve it, so being aware of your time will help you to work in a more focused way.
5) Remove Distractions
To be fair, it’s really difficult not to get distracted by websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, Instagram and Youtube. Social media networks and viral news websites have features designed by very smart people to keep you scrolling and clicking. There’s always one more notification to read, one more interesting article to click on or one more hilarious video to watch. It’s very easy to get lost down the rabbit hole and then realize that you have wasted an entire hour of what could have been a very productive day.
The best way to keep these distractions from ruining your productivity? Remove them completely. You can use a website blocking software to keep you from accessing certain websites during working hours. You can put your smartphone on airplane mode or remove it from your sight, so you won’t be tempted to respond to notifications. Out of sight, out of mind.
6) Take Breaks
Don’t forget to take regular breaks so that you can give your brain a rest. Research has shown that the most productive work/break rhythm is working for 52 minutes, then taking a break for 17 minutes.
The rest period in between will help you to come back to your task refreshed. It’s just long enough for you to disengage and recharge, but not so long that you lose focus and momentum on what you were working on.
Also, when you are in the middle of a 52 minute increment of work you can stay focused, because you know that a break is coming up soon. 52 minutes of focused, dedicated work and 17 minutes of complete rest and relaxation – that’s the formula for a productive workday.
How Do You Stay Productive When Working At Home?
While there are many general tips that tend to improve productivity, everyone is different. Some people find that they are more productive earlier in the morning, while others start their workday later and get more done. Some find that music helps them to focus, while others prefer total silence and find any sound distracting.
The key is to pay attention to your own personal productivity factors and keep tweaking your habits and work environment until you find what works best for you.
Sign up to our Newsletter