With the changing times, working from home has become the new norm. Even though working remotely is not a novel concept, under these unstable situations today, a majority of the global workforce have been forced to work from home. Although it would have been fun in the initial days with all the freedom and comfort of your homes, challenges start springing up slowly. Our productivity especially takes a hit because of our own tendencies to procrastinate, difficulties in managing work relationships and the million distractions at home.

Here are a few steps to be productive while working from home.

1. Set an exclusive workspace

Our desks or cubicles are an extension of our personalities. There are those people who like their desks to be cluttered, but can invariably find order in chaos. Then there are those who keep the items on their desks minimal to keep the distractions at bay. Some like to display family portraits and decorative items. There are different types of desks at every office. But ultimately your work desk gives you a sense of purpose and aids in your efficiency.

While working from home, it may be tempting to sit on the couch or bed and work. But do not give into that. Make an exclusive work space. If you have the luxury of converting a room into your office space, great. Otherwise, any small space or corner of your house will work, if you can put some effort into it. A small desk or a space on your dining table, a comfortable chair with enough back support are primary. Throw in some personal touches with a plant, lamp etc and make it an inviting space to work.

2. Prepare the night before

Having a night routine that involves preparing for work the next day, gives a kickstart for productivity. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the next day are:

  • Put the things on your desk back in order everyday after you finish work
  • Make a to-do list and set your planner next to your computer
  • Charge your phones and other gadgets that you will need for work
  • Fill up a bottle of water and keep it ready
  • Decide the clothes that you will be wearing for work
  • Prepare your meals too if possible. This will eliminate decision fatigue in the morning.

These are just some simple things that will give you a feeling of preparedness the next morning when you sit at your desk for work.

3. Mimic your work structure

You may be used to a certain work structure at the office. For example, some of you may schedule all the meetings in the morning, have a specific time for answering emails, allocate tasks in a specific manner etc. When working from home, you may have the tendency to change this work structure. This may affect your efficiency. Mimic your work structure to the maximum extent possible. Phase out your tasks the way you do it in office. This discipline will let you stay focused and productive.

4. Master the art of time management

This is an age old advice that works well for both office and work from home situations. Working from home comes with its own set of disadvantages. Procrastination becomes an everyday thing, there are far too many distractions and our home atmosphere may be uninspiring for work. It is absolutely necessary to manage your time efficiently and have the clear distinction between work and personal tasks. Here are a few tips to manage time better

Plan your distractions

Set aside time for your distractions at home. If you have to attend to children, or cook meals for everyone, or you find yourself on social media all the time, work out a time slot for these distractions in your day’s schedule. For example, you can allot 10 mins of social media after every two hours of work.

Get started early

One of the advantages of working from home is that you can control your own schedule. Get a head start on your work. Wake up a little early when there are minimum distractions at home and start working. This way, you can finish the work early and have considerable time for other things. 

Use time management tools

There are plenty of tools and techniques that help you manage time effectively. Try the Pomodoro technique where you work for intervals of 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break in between. Prioritise work using the Eisenhower matrix that lets you focus on the most important and urgent tasks for the day.

Choose any tool and technique from the many available resources and use it to master time.

5. Communication is key

When you are used to a buzzing environment at work that generally promotes productivity, working alone at times can be a dampener. To avoid this, make sure you stay connected with your colleagues. Carry on the day as you would at work – communicating with colleagues at the right time, attending meetings, discussing tasks etc. There are so many apps that let you do this. Do video conferences when necessary.

It is also important to take care of our mental well-being, since it is easy to succumb to loneliness. So get out of your room often. Take plenty of breaks throughout the day. Talk to your family, friends, neighbours. Take long coffee breaks. Make working from home a productive as well as an enjoyable experience.