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10 Tips To Work From Home Productively
Posted by Krystal Lau Monday 30 Mar 2020
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The culture of working from home has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the innovative technologies of Skype, Slack, Google Drive, Asana and so on. Well-known companies such as Amazon, Dell, Humana, Lionbridge and many more support and encourage this modern culture of working remotely. Working from home allows working adults a proper work-life balance and one of the major benefits is that you get to skip the early morning rush, save on commuting costs and precious time as well as office distractions. However, lots of people get it wrong by imagining working from home means curling up on the couch, laptop in hand and TV in the background. In many ways, it comes with unique and surprising challenges which takes great discipline and motivation to stay productive and on track. So read on for our essential tips to guide you to achieve an efficient remote working environment. 



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1. Internet Service

Most jobs require an internet connection, which makes it all the more important for remote working when almost everything is stored in the cloud such as data storage, servers, networking, databases and software. 

Even if working from home means never-ending typing, emails, slack messages and browsing the web for research purposes, it still requires a decent internet speed connection. Especially if you need to constantly engage in video conference calls over Skype or FaceTime, a consistent and reliable internet connection is crucial. This is to ensure there is no disruption while messages are communicated across clearly. 

In a nutshell, a good internet connection is the key to boost productivity and to get things done properly. So if you find yourself using a Personal Hotspot from your phone because your home does not have internet connection, go get one. In a separate situation, what if you have internet access but Wi-Fi is slow? No worries, switch to Ethernet by connecting your laptop directly to your router! But you will need adapters or dongles as laptops these days don't come with Ethernet ports. Another tip from us, if you're having difficulties accessing a website, you can give isitdownrightnow.com a go as it monitors websites and services if they're working properly. 




2. Have a Dedicated Workspace

Working from home doesn't mean you can't set up your own home office. And no, your bed and couch are not considered. Save them for your downtime or leisure time so that you won't confuse these two spaces in order to maintain the same level of productivity you have when you are at your real office. So find a spot, a room or a corner to be converted to your work space because let's face it, working from home has its own set of distractions. It could be your family, your kids, your pets or even your fridge! Therefore, having a dedicated work space would be the best to help you get into the right work mindset as well as to minimise all possible distractions. 

It is best to have a separate room because you can close the door and attain a bit of solitude for more focus work. But if you have limited rooms or space, your work space can be anywhere as long as you keep it as minimal as possible. Yet, if you really lack a quiet distraction-free space, just invest in noise cancellation earphones or earplugs. 

Your workspace should not feature just an empty desk, make sure you have an adequate amount of space to work at, a comfortable office chair, space to store work stuff, decent lighting, convenient access to power outlets and considerable amount of desk supplies and stationeries. Add a printer to your work desk if your job requires you to print lots of documents. However, if you find that your home is not a place to work, you can always head out to your local coffee shop and libraries for a change of scenery.



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3. Schedule Work Time Routine 

Depending on your company, one of the main benefits of working from home is the flexibility and control it gives you over your own schedule. However, we tend to take advantage of the situation and get distracted by household chores. This will indirectly affect your productivity and efficiency in completing a job task. So it is important to build a good work structure and schedule a time that you will focus on only work, a time for your lunch break as well as a check-out time when you finish your work for the day.

It is crucial to set a proper schedule to maintain a healthy work-life balance because when working from home, work and personal life tend to blend together and become hard to differentiate. You will begin to feel like you're always on the go, your work is always at the back of your mind and you don't have time to rest. This can be very unhealthy. A check-out time from work, even though mentally, can still provide the separation. 

It is also important to plot out and break down what task to accomplish each day to ensure proper work focus and productivity. Schedule your whole week in advance if you have to, cross off completed tasks and readjust if need be. By Friday, you can review and reflect what you have done and what you have accomplished that week. It can be incredibly fulfilling and motivating. 



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4. Discover Your High Productivity Periods

A person's productivity will naturally peak and drop throughout the day so when you are working from home, it is important to figure out your most productive time of the day and schedule around it. Determine what time of the day does your productivity peak as some people are more productive in the morning while some are during the evenings. So are you a morning person or a night owl?

Once you determine your timing, take advantage and make full use of your peak productivity periods with harder tasks that need your full attention and brain power. Minimise unnecessary distraction during that period such as silencing your emails, messaging apps and other social media notifications to concentrate on completing focus work that involves deep thinking. If you have distractions such as your family, communicate to them from early on so they won't disturb you when you are at the peak of your performance. 

As for low productivity periods, schedule in your general work and tackle easier logical tasks. You can also start to figure out your remote work-style along the way, such as determining if you work better in complete silence, have a need of music or general background noise. Furthermore, you can also find out if you need caffeine to be able to function during the day, how many cups, what time of the day to consume them, does it increase your productivity level and so on. By planning out your work from home experience, you can easily get your work done for the day, be more productive as well as satisfied with your accomplishments.



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5. It's Ok To Take Breaks 

The most important thing when working from home is to focus on how to maximise your productivity levels. However, the opposite can sometimes happen as we tend to over-commit or work longer hours without any breaks in-between. It will cause a burn-out that kills off productivity instead. In other words, you won't be able to last long when working from home. Therefore, taking breaks either long or short could be useful depending on your working style and job tasks. 

Yes, the thought of taking breaks might seem counterproductive but research shows that we work better with short breaks in-between productivity peaks It would also help to increase productivity and creativity levels. Try taking 5 minutes to 15 minutes of break to relax, it will make a significant difference. You can take the time to move away from your workspace, walk around your home, look outside your window, play with your pet, use the bathroom and so forth. You can also take the time to read up on the latest news, browse your personal phone, read articles and so on. 

Try setting an alarm every hour or so to get up and squeeze in a few stretches so you don't get sore and get your heart pumped for your next wave of high-concentration task. Overall, the key point is, to make sure to take some time to refresh your mind and body.



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6. Practice a Healthy Lifestyle and Diet

Even though working from home has its benefits, having your workspace within the vicinity of your home reduces the opportunity to obtain the daily exercise that you usually get from working in an office. Even if it is just the commute in the morning, lunch and back home, walking between destinations is considered natural exercise. Without exercising, you will gain unnecessary weight, hinder your productivity as well as motivation to work. This is because exercising helps to boost endorphins, which increases happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for productivity. So take the time to incorporate a short session of exercises or stretches into your morning routine before you start your work. It will have a longer payoff throughout the day as you feel more energised to take on more challenging tasks. 

Besides putting effort into exercising, watch what you put into your mouth! A work from home reality is that your food in the kitchen is easily accessible and we are not talking about cooking or preparing proper meals. We tend to be drawn to snacking on unhealthy food such as chips, cookies, candies or leftover pizza. Research shows that not only is it bad for your health, it will also reduce your productivity levels with the constant sugar highs and lows. Instead, avoid buying unhealthy snacks altogether and invest in fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. Want something other than that? There are many other healthier alternatives when it comes to snacks such as raw nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts and pecans), yogurt, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower seeds), dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dates, etc.) and many more. Save those sweet snacks specially for Friday as a reward for a successful and productive week. 



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7. Communication is Key

Communication is generally very important in any work setting to avoid misunderstandings as well as build good relationships with your colleagues and your boss. It is even more important when working from home as you won't be able to walk a few desks down to your colleagues or the next room to your boss. So make sure you are available and reachable on any social or instant messaging apps that your company uses such as email, Slack, Skype, WhatsApp and so on.

Keep in touch and maintain regular communication with your colleagues and your boss. Over-communicate if you have to. Attend all meetings held by your team, state your progress, upcoming projects and daily tasks. It is also important to relay goals and challenges faced to maintain synchronised vision with your team. Another important aspect of communication is not just about work but maintaining a good relationship with your colleagues and your boss. Take time to show that you care about them, ask them how's their day, if they had a good sleep or a good lunch, etc.

Even though communicating remotely over the internet will not replace a proper in-person meet up, at least it will ensure a strong foundation of trust and shared goals to keep up the same level of productivity.



8. Pretend That You're Going To The Office

Most of us think that working from home means we can finally avoid wearing our work clothes and choose to work in our comfy PJs as we don't need to leave the house. However, wearing your pajamas on a workday will actually decrease your productivity. We often link our pajamas with rest and leisure instead of work due to our mental associate and mindset we have that separates work and home. 

Now, we are not advising you to wear a whole work outfit or a suit, unless it fits your fancy. Rather, pick out something other than your pajamas. It will help to trigger your brain that it is time to work, not sleep and relaxation. Casual attire such as t-shirt, hoodies, jeans or skirts are appropriate options. You can even wear a tank top! Just make sure to throw on a jacket when you're engaging in a video conference of course. 

Besides changing out of your pajamas, you can schedule your morning routine and pretend that you're going to the office as well. Start your morning as you would normally do when you prepare to go to the office. Try setting your alarm, comb through your hair, take a shower, eat breakfast, make your coffee and even put on some minimal makeup. You will find that with this simple routine, it will boost your productivity of the day.



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9. Embrace 'Do Not Disturb'

Even though you are working from home, there will also be a fair share of distractions. Especially from other people in your home or those who share your space when you work such as roommates, family members, spouses, kids, friends and so on. They might unknowingly interrupt or disturb you while you are working which might result in subpar work performance and productivity. Even though you would occasionally let service people into the house such as your plumber and gardener, take care of your pets, or throw your laundry into the washing machine, doesn't mean that they should assume you are 'free'. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you are home. 

One way to avoid interruption is to set clear ground rules and boundaries when you're working. If you work in a separate room with a door, hang up a 'Do Not Disturb' sign outside to let everyone in your home know that you're working. If you use a commonplace to do your work, use a specific signal such as putting headphones on to let them know that you're in your 'office'. Subsequently, you can set a specific work time and convey those hours to your family and friends. Make sure you stick to your own hours so that they respect your space and wishes to not be disturbed. 

The same goes to your friends when they decide to drop by spontaneously or invite you out for some catching up in the middle of the day. To them, you might just be 'hanging out' at home and that you're free to stop working for a few hours. So make sure your friends get the same memo as you've given to your family members.



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10. Stay Off Social Media

In this world where social media is addictive and easily accessible practically anywhere, it is hard to avoid them entirely. Even though we don't mean to browse them, sometimes we find ourselves subconsciously clicking on them during downtime.

Often, we would get 'sucked' into the world of social media for long periods at a time if we're not careful. Especially when many mobile apps including our phone now have a screen time feature that shows how much users spend their time on social media, it is indeed eye-opening at the amount of time wasted. 

So it is important that you stay off social media when you work as it can hinder your productivity. Make a habit of turning off or muting notifications on your phone during the time that you need more focus and concentration for work. You can also consider removing them from your computer and browser shortcuts. Log out of every account if possible to eliminate the convenience of clicking into it.
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