From the beginning, we’ll highlight it: working from home can be challenging if you have never done it before.
Mastering remote work is about using the right technologies and equipment to boost productivity and connect with your peers. Even before going into lockdown, remote work has been a popular option, more and more organizations preferred because it allowed them to cut costs and access worldwide talent. Why is remote work no longer the unicorn in the business world? Some have pointed fingers at the rise of freelance work, with 50% of millennials being freelancers. Also, the present context forces companies to reevaluate their position on remote work. Businesses are looking for ways to solve the global epidemic’s urgent issues without affecting their performance and effectiveness.
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How to stay productive when switching to remote work
Create a dedicated workspace and establish working hours
Working from home comes with flexibility but also excuses and distractions to delay your work. To maintain your performance and complete tasks in time, establish a routine similar to the office you had. Without a schedule, you’re tempted to do anything else than work, and before you know, you’re no longer able to meet deadlines.
You don’t necessarily have to convert one of the house rooms into an office, but you need a space designed for this purpose. An area where your family or pets cannot disturb you (and preferably where you can close the door shut to avoid any distraction) is ideal. Most people working at home find that using a dedicated workspace helps complete their tasks effectively. When you step into the home office, you focus on your job, and once you’re out of it, you can forget all the challenges you experienced for the day.
Suppose you haven’t worked from home before; you may not have the needed tools to complete your daily tasks. When you don’t afford to purchase new equipment, you can explore the rent to own laptop computer solutions, many online organizations offer to support people having an easy transition from office to remote work.
When staying inside the house isn’t an option, you can find another more suitable place, like a beach, park, or library. If you like working outdoors while soaking in the sun, your local park or beach will become your favorite spots.
Stay away from distractions
To work like a pro from home, you need to get rid of all distractions. A survey shows that the average worker wastes two hours daily because of distractions, and the productivity loss can cost businesses over $544 billion annually. It’s fair to assume that the numbers changed during the pandemic when people also got stressed because of the risk of getting sick.
To keep distractions at bay, do a time audit during your first week of work at home to understand when and how you waste time. You can use a time tracking app to show a report of your time on websites unrelated to your work.
Once you determine how you spend time, you can proactively take it back by organizing your tasks and scheduling them on your daily program. Your workday should include more time blocks assigned to specific jobs, from checking emails to contacting your team and reading feedback.
When you create time blocks, try to be realistic about how much time each task takes. It’s best to overestimate your involvement in specific jobs and consider unexpected events or delays. When you finish a job earlier than you estimated, you can make room for extra chores.
Use a task management system
To improve your performance, you need to have the right systems in place. This is especially important when you work from home. These tools serve as a basic framework to guide you throughout the day and make you more efficient.
There are various task management systems you can use. The ABC method is a simple but effective one because it allows you to assign tasks on your to-do list.
- A tasks are urgent, important tasks you need to complete first.
- B tasks have mild consequences when you don’t meet the deadline. Your team may be upset when you don’t complete them in time, but they aren’t a matter of life and death and don’t influence the overall workflow.
- C tasks can wait, but it would be great to complete them when possible.
If you have more than three types of tasks you need to complete daily, number the system to decide the order of priorities. Don’t move to another task unless you finished the first one.
The four-square method is also useful when working remotely. Stephen Cover popularized it in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Each task fits into a quadrant.
The first one includes top priority jobs, the second one important but not urgent tasks, the third urgent but not important chores, and the fourth, non-important and non-urgent tasks. You should complete the first quadrant tasks first in the morning, then decide when you do the rest of them. You can delegate the jobs in the third quadrant, especially if you work with a team. The last quadrant allows you to delay the work until you are free to focus on something else.
Find a task management system that fits your working style. However, no matter what method you prefer, don’t multitask. You may think multitasking allows you to complete more tasks, but neuroscientists from MIT reveal that it can make you more likely to mistake and damage your productivity. When multitasking, you make your brain spend extra energy because it has to shift from an activity to another. 45 minutes of focused work on a single job is better than 1.5 hours of multitasking. Stay away from distractions and concentrate on finding the best solution to meet your deadlines. Multitasking isn’t the solution when you just switched to remote work.