Have you recently found yourself working from home?
As you’re no doubt aware, billions of people, including you and yours, feel the impact of the COVID pandemic. Due to the massive footprint of the virus, the world has had to find new ways to do things – and this includes how we go about our work.
What we are seeing is the eventual, inevitable transition from office-based to home-based, remote work. It just so happens to be occurring in the midst of one of the worst pandemics in modern history.
But with great challenge comes great opportunity. Remote work may just be your milieu.
In pre-COVID life, a small minority of individuals (around 18 percent at last count) had the good fortune of remote-based work – and it’s pros and cons. However, it’s a new paradigm for most of us.
As one who worked in a corporate environment for years before transitioning to a remote position for four years, this writer can provide a bit of insight as to the experience.
The transition to working from home usually goes something like this:
“I’m working from home – and it’s AWESOME!!!” You then proceed to dance or do a little shimmy.
“I still don’t know what I’m doing yet! But, working in my PJs is so great!” Sure, you can’t drag the tech support guy to your cube, but who cares? (That dress shirt and pajama bottoms look great by the way!)
“This is pretty much like any other job without the commute. Well, and the not getting dressed thing.” Yep, it still feels like work!
Okay, so I oversimplified things a bit. The truth is that we’re all different; some will fall – and stay – in love with remote work. The majority will come to feel rather indifferent, and a small minority will wish they were still in a cube. (Never understood that last group.)
For those who have only recently moved to their home base for work, you had a different – and probably, more challenging – experience. Everyone seems to be sheltered up. Nothing feels familiar. There’s uncertainty everywhere.
But regardless of the challenges in remote work, we can all agree that it’s necessary to remain productive. You may find that creating the right remote work habits could just take you and your career to a whole new level of success. (The reason for this is simple. In this writer’s extensive remote-based job experience, I’ve found that many people are flat-out bad at working from home. More on this later.)
In this article, we’re going to be discussing how successful people stay productive at home. Let’s do this!
8 Things Productive People Do When Working From Home
Without further ado, here are eight things that the productive among us do when working from home.
1 – They Start Early
From presidents of nations to CEOs of major companies, it seems that most people who are successful – at home or anywhere else- tend to get an early start. Rising earlier than one’s counterparts seems to provide an individual the feeling of having an “edge.”
There are, of course, practical benefits to getting up “at the crack” as well. For one thing, early risers are allotted more time to waking up and getting into their groove. The transition from sleep to wakefulness isn’t necessarily an easy one, so the earlier one starts the process, the better.
Second, people who get an early start are permitted some enjoyment in the morning. Most people go from the fog of sleep to rushing around within a matter of minutes. This approach tends to create a sense of inner conflict and stress that carries over to one’s work.
Making some extra time to relax and enjoy the morning tends to put one in a better state of mind. Of course, such a mindset is also much more conducive to productivity.
2 – They Limit Distractions While Working from Home
Unlike at a traditional office, there is nobody to monitor your activity. While a liberating feeling, this newfound freedom makes it all-too-easy to fall into the trap of endless distraction. Combine the internet, the pandora’s box of aimless distraction with poor impulse control – and we’ve got a real problem.
It is, therefore, crucial to limit unnecessary distractions and train the attention.
Concerning the former, it should go without saying that work is done in a quiet environment. Remote work is not an invitation to permit intrusions upon your workspace. You’ve still got a job to do.
Concerning the latter, now’s a good time to strengthen your attentional muscles. The cool thing is that by avoiding distractions, you are already doing that to a high degree! Follow up this discipline with concentrated (though relaxed) attention to the task at hand. Work in extended spurts with short breaks and finish what you start, always.
3 – They Approach Work The Same Way
Work is work, no matter it takes place. That is why remote work, while satisfying for the many benefits it offers, gradually loses much of it’s initial “Holy crap, this is awesome!” feeling.
Remote work, if gone about in an undisciplined manner, can feel too much like a house chore. You’ll tend to it, but only to get it done and out of the way. While we all get into this sort of funk, it is essential to not allow your environment to overly dictate how you approach your work.
The easiest way to avoid this is to remind yourself that you are indeed at work consistently. While your physical location is at home, your mind should be in work mode.
4 – They Stay Active
This one is perhaps why it is so hard to work remotely in the COVID landscape. Many states have instituted strict “stay-at-home” orders, limiting what one can do outside the home.
Still, it’s entirely possible to venture outside from time-to-time. If you have a lawn, do some backyard calisthenics, yoga, or some other exercise that requires little extra space. If you have a mask (and you should), get out for a short stroll.
In short, do something to keep your body (and just as important, your mind) active and engaged. Speaking from personal experience, you’ll probably slack off in this regard on occasion because it’s so easy to just stay in. That’s okay! Just get back after it!
5 – They Perform High-Value Work First Thing
If you’re active a morning bird, use this energy to prioritize and work on your most valuable tasks. Too often, workers sit down at their desks and immediately fire up their email. Unless checking your email is a mission-critical task, resist the pull.
Instead, spend this time productively by focusing on the essential.
Follow a page out of the book of American Express’s former CEO, Kenneth Chenault, who said that the “last thing” he does before leaving work is write down three of the top things to do – and then tackle them first thing in the A.M.
6 – They Schedule Everything
It’s said that Elon Musk keeps a schedule broken up into 5-minute intervals. 5. Minutes. We’re not telling you to do something that structured. However, most successful people that we know of keeps a schedule. Successful people – whether home workers or officegoers – measure their time and how it’s spent.
It turns out that scheduling things carries some genuine benefits. In fact, research shows that people who keep a routine tend to have lower stress levels, better mental health, less anxiety, and – this is cool – more time to relax!
7 – They Set Boundaries
As mentioned, working remotely is a new experience for most of us. For years, we’ve been able to separate our professional and personal lives – at least proximity-wise.
This separation becomes more complicated when working from home. Gone is that time buffer between leaving home and arriving at the office – and vice-versa. Gone is the physical separation between where you live your life and where you perform your work.
People who are successful in working from home are aware of this change and act accordingly. If you are to keep work going smoothly, it is necessary to set boundaries immediately – and make them known.
8 – They Keep Their Mind Right
This last one may very well be the most important.
Everyone knows that we are all dealing with an unprecedented amount of uncertainty. Some of us don’t even know when we’ll be “allowed” to leave our homes. If that’s not bad enough, there’s an unstable economy, a lack of transparency from government officials, and confusing messages about the state of public health.
Final Thoughts on Staying Productive While Working from Home
Whatever you do, keep your head up and your mind right. How you do this is up to you, though it wouldn’t be a bad idea to practice some relaxation techniques, meditation, or something else. If you prefer, try getting in a regular physical workout.
Above all else, may you and yours be safe and free from fear during these uncertain times.