3 Productive Habits for Working from Home
In recent years, the digital breakthrough has allowed the possibility of improving the work-life balance through flexible working alternatives like work from homes. Apart from this, the COVID-19 pandemic has also forced companies across the globe to transition their employees to work from home setting. If you have found yourself in any of the above circumstances, then now is the right time to ensure that remote working is not just a survival mechanism, but a smart way of life.
Why the need for ‘smarter’ work-from-home habits?
We are born with survival instincts. Now that the world is inching towards unprecedented technological developments, our instincts motivate us to adapt to rapidly changing work environments.
On an organizational level, it is becoming evident that an employee’s work environment is directly related to his productivity and employers who support a remote working environment claim that this practice is leading to greater efficiency.
However, at the same time, we need to remember some common pitfalls associated with work from home:
- You are surrounded by endless distractions
- You are thinking more about taking breaks than scheduling tasks and managing time
- You find yourself out of the loop in terms of technology
- You end up either slacking-off or slogging during your deliverable
The benefits of working from home are apparent in the name itself. However, “smarter” home working is more than just a replacement for one’s workplace. It is about creating an environment that allows you to be more productive with flexible working time and less office travel time. But the environment needs to be nurtured to make to achieve the intended purpose succeed.
Here’s how you can do it by developing the following three useful habits:
- Keep a dedicated, consistent, and professional working space
- Leverage technology for maximum productivity
- Stick to a strict schedule
Habit 1: Keep a dedicated, consistent, and professional working space
A good environment, whether in the office or at home, can keep you from getting easily distracted. It is near-impossible to create an ideal working corner that it’s not just comfortable, but dedicated to your work.
The main purpose of maintaining a dedicated working space is to save your ‘work-from-home’ from becoming a ‘work-from-anywhere’ situation. Sitting on a bean bag or your kitchen table will just add to your coziness, nothing much else. If the office feeling is lost, it won’t take time for the productivity to lose.
Dedicate a place in your home specifically to your work, and keep it consistent.
The first step in this direction is a complete transformation of your decided work area. The work area can be a separate room, or a corner of your house, depending upon the type of work that you are doing.
Once you have identified a relatively quiet area, you may need to invest time and resources to make the area professional. Why not? Some of the successful businesses in the world have started from humble workspaces at homes.
The following two important steps need to be taken:
- Ensure that there is adequate lighting (or natural lighting) unless you are doing freelance photography, where you will need a dark room too
- Equip your workspace with all the necessary equipment such as ergonomically correct furniture, communications equipment, office supplies, computer systems, etc.
How to apply this?
Being organized and clean: Just having the necessary equipment doesn’t mean that you are set for remote working. The main purpose is to get the job done, and it can be done in an organized way. Clean your workspace every day and keep the items uncluttered. Schedule a major cleaning once a week, and make it a point not to eat at your desk.
Maintaining Consistency: Having a consistent schedule is not just about planning your time, but about avoiding the difficulties of being inconsistent about work. The best way to manage your time is to set work frequencies before-hand so that you are not bogged down by heavy deliveries or end up performing lesser jobs than you can ideally do.
The benefits of being organized and setting clear boundaries within your work-life setting at home ensure that professionalism stays in your work and productivity levels remain high.
Laura Mae Martin, the in-house productivity expert in Google gives three productivity tips that can also be used for improving our work from home habits:
- Decide on your priorities and have the courage to say no to everything else
- Schedule a half-an-hour ‘me’ time daily to self-propel yourself for the day
- Define productivity as completing what you have intended
Now since we are talking about ‘smart’ work from home, our tips would be incomplete without talking about technology. This brings us to our next habit.
Habit 2: Leverage technology to maximize productivity
Work from home offers companies access to a diverse pool of talent and highly specialized skills. Skills and talents are harnessed when they are given the needed exposure to the right resources. In the current work scenario, technology is the resource that is shaping each and every aspect of our work.
It’s time that we use it to improve our habits and bring in smartness to our remote work office.
The need for leveraging technology arises out of the fact that that the last two decades have seen technology transform the way we work and live. Technologies that were created at an industrial level can now be freely and easily accessed at home-level.
How to apply this?
Schedule and manage your work using tech
Not scheduling your work can lead to insanity during project deliverables. Conduct thorough research and download personal organizer apps that are interactive and help you list down your tasks and achieve them as planned. The best way to improvise is to have and a calendar app integrated with a scheduler and to-do list to keep you aware of your project status.
Some apps that help you achieve these are Todoist, Omnifocus, Any.do, and Trello.
Technology is changing the way we work. To be more efficient and successful it is necessary to be abreast of technology that will keep you at par with the competitive business environment. Visit tech websites, forums, and podcasts that help you with the latest cutting-edge technologies. Similarly, keep reading about the current trends in relation to tech big-wigs such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. for regular updates.
Another important avenue to leverage technology is to use it for improving your critical thinking, communication, and organizational skills.
Download online management tools that provide access to career and management learning solutions, productivity hacks, and free exercises that help improve work management skills.
On the productivity front, expand your learning horizon by using Mindtools which provides the following resources:
- Training modules
- Book Audio’s
- Career Cafés
- Expert Interview Podcasts
- Templates and Worksheets
On the habit front, the Habitify App helps you to create habits and track them in real-time. You can add your tech goals in the app and can track your progress and improve your habits when necessary.
SEE ALSO: How to use Habitify to read more books
Habit 3: Stick to a strict schedule
Whenever we talk about scheduling our work, the words of Stephen Covey beautifully rings true:
“The key is to not prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Productivity increases when we fill our schedule with quality tasks and not just quantity. Our schedule should give meaning and add value to each task that we are doing.
The important thing is that productivity is not an accident, but a result of meticulous planning and scheduling. The concept of Time blocking, which motivates you to divide your day into blocks of time will help you understand the importance of scheduling.
We are talking about time-blocking because it offers more latitude and help than the traditional to-do lists. Elon Musk, the ace businessman helps us to know how it has helped him.
Believe us; you don’t need any superhuman ability to do it.
As soon as Elon Musk gets up at 7:00 AM in the morning, he plans his day in five-minute blocks of time that he schedules for all the tasks that he has in mind. This not only includes his office tasks but time with his family as well. This helps him to keep things in track and also keeps him from useless distractions.
If such a schedule seems insane, then the “Think Weeks” pattern of Bill Gates will help unwind, where he spends blocks time off from his hectic schedule to spend for himself with his ideas. Was it productive? Well, Yes. Internet Explorer was born from such a think week.
How to apply this?
- Try to be a morning person and start early
- Create a schedule that is meaningful and that adds value to your tasks
- Take some time to prioritize your tasks and give attention to critical business matters
- Create chunks or blocks of time to keep track of your progress
- Strictly finish the tasks that you have planned and make adjustments if necessary
- Use one tool or app to organize all your meetings and follow through on them
- Next day, assess what aspects of your schedule can be improvised
While we have different talents and abilities, we all have the same level-field – the number of hours in a day. All it takes is to schedule ‘smartly’, and not schedule ‘tightly’, and definitely not schedule ‘hardly’.
See Also: 5 Habits of Morning People
The important thing to remember while developing the above three habits is to understand how our brain functions. Our brain has the unique ability to adapt itself to any environment and optimize our behavior around it. This function is called brain plasticity and it explains the way our environment has a bearing on our life.
In short, if we foster a healthy, productive working environment at home, our brain gets wired accordingly, and if we have a consistent routine, then our brain adapts itself to that environment, leading to greater productivity. However, our consistency breaks, our brain may fail to adapt itself, leading to lesser work productivity.
Abraham Lincoln famously said,
“If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the saw.”
The success of smart work is investing time and effort to create an environment that achieves maximum productivity. The more we invest time in the beginning, the less we will have to suffer later. The essential thing is knowing where to make the right investment.
We are now living in a world where work from home has become the new normal. Working smart requires rewiring our techniques and practicing and improving them consistently until they become our habit. More than ever, we need good habits on our side to be as productive as possible.
Comment below and share with the community your best tips on how to optimize Work From Home!