For some, working from home is a joy. The random distractions from the office fade away, and it’s easy to just focus on getting some work done. That’s a common benefit when you are not forced to work from home every day. In these uncertain times, many people are being forced to work from home when they are not used to it. This can cause your day to change so much that nothing seems to get done.
We’ve always been a virtual company and have built our entire platform without an actual office. Here are some tips on how to stay productive when you’re working from home.
Humans love routines. We get into a habit, and we’re very good at following it. That’s why you shouldn’t watch TV in bed. If you do, your body isn’t always ready to sleep when you crawl into bed. If your bed is mostly for sleeping, then your body knows when you crawl into bed, it’s time to sleep. The same can be said for your morning coffee. If you’re a coffee drinker and you miss your morning coffee, it can be hard to get moving as not only are you dependent on it; you trigger yourself to start your day with the delicious drink.
When you work from home, having a dedicated work environment can help trigger your brain to realize it’s time to get work done. Having an office is ideal, but if you don’t, just having a desk or table set aside that’s only for work can help you be more productive. Sitting on the couch where you watch TV in the evenings with your laptop is not a focused environment.
Some people work well in the mornings, others work better in the evenings. Knowing how to plan your day is essential to being productive.
As you are often setting your own hours, understanding how you work and planning your calendar correctly can help you be a lot more productive (this link has a lot of great resources on how to determine your productive times).
I spend all day in front of a computer. Being able to focus is essential to being productive. Here’s where I do all of my work:
Double monitors can often cause more problems than they solve. If you have email (or worse, Twitter or Facebook) open on one screen and Google Ads on another, you will constantly be interrupted by your social feeds.
When someone is interrupted from their current task, it takes about 25 minutes to fully resume a task. Multi-tasking can lower your IQ by up to 15 points (which is a huge number in IQ points).
Make sure you create an environment where you can focus on work and minimize all other distractions.
This is my computer’s background:
This is part of the “getting things done” system. When you combine workflow with a project management system, you can ensure that you are getting everything done that needs to be accomplished. Have a process for getting work done is crucial to executing on your daily tasks.
If you have kids, they are probably home from a cancelled school day right now and looking for something to do. Creating a routine for your kids that involves self-learning so, they are not constantly interrupting you is essential. Here’s our 5th grader’s schedule while she’s home from school:
The schedule is not so stressful that a kid can’t do it, but it also ensures that you have time to work since the other people in your home are also focused on an activity. If I’m on a video call, I let everyone know beforehand so, they make certain not to interrupt. Social distractions can also include social media. If you aren’t working on your Facebook or Twitter PPC accounts (or some other digital marketing work), just close the websites. You can check them when it’s time for a break.
Slack is great. I love email. The phone works. However, all of them can easily be misunderstood as text rarely carries emotions, sarcasm, and content. Using video calling (GoToMeeting, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc) can help visualize who you are talking to and the entire context of the conversation.
Being able to easily find and share documents with co-workers is essential. Software like Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox can make it much easier to share reports with clients or documents with co-workers.
Keeping everyone on the same page when you don’t have random office meetings can be difficult. Putting a project plan into place can help make sure everyone knows what needs to be done and easily track the status.
When you are working from home, you might feel ‘spied’ on if you are tracking time or forced to track time. However, time tracking serves a few benefits:
Find inconsistent times. If it’s taking one co-worker 10 minutes to do something and someone else 1 hour, there’s process or technology improvements that can be made
Find automation opportunities. Look to see what’s taking up all your time, see if you can automate those tasks so you can spend time elsewhere.
Know how much you are working. One of the downsides of working from home is that you are ‘always at the office’. Understanding how much you are (or aren’t…) working can help you know when it’s time to be done for the day or that some more work needs to be done.
With time tracking, I find it’s nice if it’s only for you at times. That way you can be brutally honest and no one will review your hours. It’ll help you manage your time and make you more productive over the coming weeks of social isolation.
Software that auto-creates To-Do lists of optimization efforts and gives you the tools to quickly act upon those items can help you focus and quickly get things done. If you’re looking to make your day flow easier, give Adalysis a try.
Many people will go through a complete work change (or are in the midst of it) over the coming weeks. This is a time to experiment with how you work, develop new work habits, and ensure that you can be productive in any environment. These tips should help you tremendously (if you follow them, everyone has difficulties with Focus and minimizing distractions) if you are looking to find new and productive ways to work while away from the office.