The switch to remote work has been hard for some, easy for others, and more of the same for people who have already been working outside of a traditional office environment for many years.
It can be difficult to remain motivated and on-task while working remotely for a variety of reasons, some personal, others family-related. Luckily there are a great many things you can do and incorporate into your new remote work life to ensure you maximize your productivity.
The sheer number of organizational and workflow management tools on the market for people working from home or independently can be overwhelming. It is often hard to choose which ones, whether you should opt for free or paid versions of things, and there is always that nagging suspicion that you might be overcomplicating your life by over-automating it.
There are, however, some truly useful tools available and incorporating them into your work day can dramatically improve your remote work-life balance, but it is important to keep in mind that the more technology you integrate into your work and personal life, the more cybersecurity threats you invite. This is why remote work should always be approached as a productivity-maximizing venture, but also as a cyber risk management one.
Spending all this extra time at home means that you need to be more careful with your electricity consumption and the factors that go into your bill. Fortunately, there are many ways you can start saving. For example, if you live in Houston, you have the power to choose your electricity provider thanks to the deregulated electricity market. Simply put, you have the option to select the cheapest rates.
Define Your Boundaries
Job creep is real and if you don’t set early and firm boundaries with your employer, either in writing or verbally, you run the risk of being inundated with work even when you are not on the clock. This doesn’t have to be an unpleasant conversation and you should frame it as establishing boundaries that are in place to assure the necessary work-life balance so that you can remain productive when you are working.
A good employer that understands employees need their downtime to recharge and be fresh for the next working day or week will already go out of their way to ensure you aren’t bothered while on the clock, but for many people, there is still the temptation to respond to messages and notifications out of guilt. A good way around this is to turn off notifications when you are not officially on the clock.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care
Self-care is one of those words that has been making the rounds over the last year as people have struggled to cope with the emotional and often physical burdens of working from home and pandemic fatigue. Self-care is a broad shorthand term for anything that involves addressing and attending to both your physical and mental health needs. It might include mental health-related applications, making sure you are eating and sleeping right as well as getting regular adequate exercise.
Self-care isn’t just part of remaining healthy in the face of so much stress and adversity, but it is integral to your sustained productivity. People who practice good self-care and attend to their needs are more likely to be able to handle stress and remain focused and dedicated day in and day out.
Use a Productivity App
The productivity app industry exploded in 2020, with more people than ever eager to give themselves whatever competitive advantage they could while working from home. For many, the switch to remote work came as a shock, as well as with a major learning curve, as people struggled to acclimate to a work life without micromanaging or the camaraderie and motivation they get from being around other hardworking people.
Productivity apps take a lot of different forms, and they don’t always have to be imposed from above. You can use productivity tracking and facilitating apps to make sure you are not wasting time on social media and other non-work-related sites, or to break your day up into productivity boosts that help you maximize the time when you are working so that you can fully enjoy your rests in between.
Let Others Know You’re Working
One of the best ways to remain productive while working from home, and especially if you live with other people, is to make sure that your housemates, whether they are friends, roommates, or family, know that while you work, you are not to be disturbed. While there will always be exceptions to the rule, and your attention may sometimes be required elsewhere, your working hours and workspaces should be respected.
The easiest way to communicate your need for solitude and quiet while you work is to create a designated workspace somewhere in your home. If you don’t have a separate room for this, you can purchase a room divider and put it somewhere in the corner of a room so that others know not to disturb you and to keep the noise to a minimum while you're there.
Working remotely can be both a blessing and a curse and many people are now struggling to juggle increasingly poorly defined work and domestic lives. Others long for a return to in-office work, where their coworkers and direction from managers and leaders helped them stay on track and motivated. It seems, however, that the majority of remote workers indicate that this has been one of the best things that ever happened to them. Whichever camp you fall into, if you take the above recommendations seriously, you are more likely to squeeze every last productive moment out of your working hours.