Remote work is on the rise, and every day millions of people forgo commuting to an office in favor of working from home.
But when you work remotely, you don’t have a boss hovering over your shoulder to make sure you stay on task. Your achievements revolve around your ability to stay disciplined on your own, and sometimes it can be difficult for even the most driven people to stay focused when working from home.
Here are five tips to help you stay productive when working from home:
1. Keep a strict schedule.
Part of the fun of remote work is the flexibility to craft your own schedule. Work with a cat on your lap at 6 AM? Sure! Finish your report so you can head to a 2 PM yoga class? Why not!
But even the most honest and hard-working remote employee can fall into habits like “Maybe I’ll just run one more errand. Maybe I’ll wash a few dishes. And then start laundry. And now I need to go for a walk to clear my head….”
This can become a slippery slope — one that is difficult to reverse unless you counteract these habits.
On Sunday night, look at your calendar and map out the week ahead. Take note of the important calls and meetings on your agenda, and predetermine what precise hours you will work each day. Consider these hours strict and non-negotiable except for true emergencies.
Sticking to the schedule you create is a practice of following through on your word – a habit that will help you build self-trust and discipline.
2. Remove distractions.
According to a groundbreaking study from the University of Chicago, having your cell phone near your desk will sabotage your cognitive capacity – even when your phone is turned off.
Depending on your job functions, you may be forced to keep your phone nearby for unexpected calls. But if your remote team interacts through messaging and emails, and a random call out of the blue is rare, consider leaving your phone in another room to increase your productivity and focus.
If you feel distracted when working from home: you’re not alone. A number of productivity-boosting tools, podcasts, and apps have emerged in recent years. Here are three popular resources to try if you haven’t already:
- Offtime: An app that helps you reduce the time spent on your smartphone. Available for both Android and iOS
- Brain.fm: A streaming service for brain-boosting music
- The Tim Ferriss Show Podcast: The ultimate podcast for listeners who want to learn productivity hacks and success tips
3. Maintain a productive workspace.
If you worked in a cubicle that was overflowing with junk, candy wrappers, piled-up notebooks, and endless trinkets… your boss would probably take notice. And not in a good way.
Even though your manager can’t typically see your workspace as a remote worker, a clean and productive workspace will keep you feeling focused and professional
If it’s possible to create a designated work area in your home, a separate workspace can reinforce stronger boundaries between work life and home life. Some telecommuters opt to convert an extra bedroom into a home office.
For me, it’s not practical to create a dedicated workspace within my small apartment. So to create a stronger mental differential between work and play, I move my laptop to my dining room table and work from my dining room whenever I’m working remotely. What can you do to make your workspace feel more separate from the rest of your home?
4. Leave your house.
Working from home doesn’t mean you need to stay at home. Coworking spaces are specifically designed for remote workers, freelancers and entrepreneurs who want to work productively and build social connections in an office-like environment.
74% of people working from coworking spaces report feeling more productive. Coworking spaces are free from the distractions of home, and many spaces include amenities like ergonomic chairs, extra computer monitors, and endless coffee to keep you focused and on-task.
Coworking also helps reduce loneliness. Human connection is an important facet of overall well-being, and loneliness has become a growing societal health concern. Studies have indicated that loneliness and isolation can reduce our lifespans a similar amount as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
If you want to grow your network and increase your productivity as a remote worker, it’s time to give coworking a try.
5. Connect with your remote team.
Even if you work remotely, your team is still a team. Each person you work with is a complex human being with interests, desires, goals, and personality quirks that are worth understanding and embracing. Adding elements of human interaction to your remote teams will help everyone feel engaged and connected.
To add elements of culture and connection to your remote team, you could create a Slack channel for people to share funny-yet-appropriate memes (here at MELD we have a Slack channel devoted solely to cats!).
You could also consider holding a weekly video chat meeting. Even if most things can technically be accomplished by email, having time devoted for conversations, eye contact, and strategic planning can help your team feel more like a team. Building this level of rapport over time will help you navigate future conflicts, problems, or performance issues.
Are you curious to see how coworking might impact your productivity?
At MELD Coworking in Austin, you can work efficiently from our shared space, leave the distractions at home, and become part of our friendly community of remote workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
Sign up for our email list here to claim your free trial day at MELD Coworking. We look forward to getting to know you and working alongside of you!