The frequency of remote work options have grown exponentially in the past decade, with an estimated 3.6 million Americans working from home in at least some capacity, based on State of the Remote Job Marketplace.
The remote work trend has notable perks for both employees and employers – no commute, time flexibility and minimal office costs. What’s more, a study of 500 employees from Stanford University reports that working from home can lead to a boost in productivity. For example, traditional office workers in the study lost time due to traffic on their commutes, periodic water-cooler breaks and other daily interruptions, while remote employees did not.
Still, working from home can be challenging. Without the structure of an office to hold you accountable or a set schedule to keep you on track, it’s easy to lose motivation and therefore get less done during the day.
Use these ideas to be more productive when your office is your living room, dishes are in the sink, and you’re still in pajamas.
Keep your smartphone out of reach
Scrolling through your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in the middle of the workday can have a negative impact on your concentration. The brain is not wired to switch back-and-forth between different kinds of stimuli – in this case, workload and social media – because it causes an “interference between the two tasks,” according to NPR.
This effort to multi-task leads to an unfocused, overstimulated brain, which in turn makes it difficult to finish your assignments. If it’s hard for you to avoid scrolling while a website loads or you wait for an email, eliminate the temptation by keeping your cell phone away from your desk. Keep it in another room, instead, giving you an excuse to get up and move around when you want to check it as well.
Create an efficient, orderly workspace
In addition to limiting access to a smartphone, you also need to create an environment that’s conducive to efficiency. An organized and well-equipped office can increase productivity as much as 20 percent, according to the World Economic Forum, and you can harness these benefits in your own remote workspace.
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To design an effective home office, you first need to find a separate room or enclosed partition with muffled outside noise and adequate natural light. Once these basics have been established, you can create a space that encourages productivity, starting with a proper desk and chair – working on your kitchen table won’t cut it.
Don’t forget to keep the space decluttered and organized, using folders, desk drawers and dividers as necessary. Finally, consider adding plants to your space, which clean the air and help reduce stress and improve productivity, according to SHRM.
Maintain a clear routine and schedule
As a telecommuter, you have a certain amount of freedom to structure your own agenda for your remote work, but this flexibility comes with the need to manage your own time. It can be enticing to sleep in until 9AM, work in your pajamas, then close the laptop a few hours later when your mid-afternoon slump strikes. However, this lack of consistency makes you less productive.
Instead, create a specific routine that allows for a consistent start and end time, with sporadic breaks to help you stay focused between tasks. If you’re struggling to get into a routine like this, use alarms to remind you, suggests Whitson Gordon, New York Times contributor, and take into account morning rituals, workouts and mealtimes.
For example, set a start time for work each day – perhaps that’s 9AM. You should then plan to wake up with enough time to eat breakfast and get ready for the day before starting, regardless if it’s remote work or an office job.
Tune out distractions with a podcast
Podcasts are perfect for listening when doing tasks that require less thinking and more doing. They also provide a much-needed change from music and may even enable you to be a more creative, action-oriented, inspired, energized and productive worker.
Podcasts can be streamed on a computer through websites like Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play Music or SoundCloud, so you can still leave your phone in the other room. If you don’t have any favorite podcasts yet, check out some of the most popular business and entrepreneur podcasts.
- The 5AM Miracle hosted by Jeff Sanders
- Harvard Business Review IdeaCast hosted by Alison Beard
- Beyond the To-Do List hosted by Erik Fisher
- Wonder hosted by Kalika Yap
- Accidental Creative hosted by Todd Henry
- She Did It Her Way hosted by Amanda Boleyn
Increase productivity at home
The potential for distractions in the middle of a task is inevitable when you’re doing remote work from your own home, taking its toll on productivity and efficiency.
Set yourself up for success by creating routines, finding motivating podcasts to keep you on track, and making your workspace presentable.
When you figure out what’s slowing you down and how to fix the issues, you can be just as successful at home as inside an office.