More people than ever before are working from home (wfh) full time or at least part time. Working from home does have its benefits. There’s no commute, you can wear pajamas “to the office”, and be a little more flexible in your schedule. However, it also comes productivity challenges.
Many who work from home have less structure to their work day. Family members may also be working, learning or just “being” home too. Some people might fall into the trap of it feeling like a “weekend” or holiday. But most people still have work deadlines to meet and projects to complete. If you’re prone to procrastinate, struggle with focus or have trouble sticking to a routine or schedule, we’ve got you.
7 Strategies to Get Priority Work Done Wherever You May Be
- Pick or create a space where you can focus on work. No dedicated “home office”? No problem. Select a spot that you can clear of all other things and “claim” for work when you need to work. Make sure it’s clear of clutter. Have some basic office supplies nearby. Pick a quiet part of your home so that you can focus, participate in calls or video conferences with colleagues on your team, clients or business partners without background noise. Stick to a “work” schedule as much as possible.
- Do your toughest task early in the workday. We call this strategy “Eat a Frog for Breakfast” (concept of doing the hardest, highest priority work first to “get it down” and over with, originated by author and speaker Brian Tracy).
- Set a timer to stay focused for blocks of time throughout the day. It can be tempting to refill your coffee, toss in some laundry, check the mail or any other at-home-task you may use to procrastinate. Use these things as planned breaks, in between bursts of focused work. Try the Pomodoro technique of 25-minute work periods separated by 5-minute breaks, or 50-minute work periods separated by 10-minute breaks.
- Make a short-list of your top three priorities. Set yourself up for success by identifying the things that really (and realistically) need to be done in a day. Commit to doing those tasks before anything else.
- Engage an accountability partner. Connect via phone or email with this person at the beginning of each week or daily. Declare what you are going to get done that week or day, and find out what they’re committing to. Check in at the beginning of the next week or day. Report in on how you did on your commitments and what your commitments are for the new week or day. Accountability does wonders for productivity (link to a post where we talk about why).
- Do what you can to discourage or minimize interruptions. Tell others in the house that you’re working and when you’ll be available to them. Let them know what to expect. Turn off phone and computer notifications to make it easier to stay on task and not be distracted.
- Keep your routine and schedule as “normal” as possible. Set your alarm to wake up and go to sleep at the same times you usually would. If you typically work out before going in to work, keep that routine.
Keep In Touch – Especially for Distributed Teams
Another element to working from home is strategizing how to maintain communication with your work team or employees, including a social and collaborative connection. Leveraging technology and making use of remote work tools, such as conducting virtual meetings via Zoom, Teams or other services, is just one example (however, we recommend you don’t wear your pajamas if you are doing that, at least not from the waist up – Yes, you do need to stay professional and business appropriate even if you are telecommuting!). Use these tools for work meetings, to collaborate on projects, but also to connect in social ways for teams so that though the regular “water cooler conversations may not be happening, you can still nurture work relationships. Use Email, messaging and other online collaboration tools in smart ways to stay in touch and to connect.
Don’t Work Around The Clock
It is also important that you plan breaks to step away from your work at regular intervals. For example, take a half hour a couple times each day to get outside for some fresh air and take the dog for a walk around the block – it’s a win/win for you and for the dog! Remember the same good practices you use at your office for how often you are checking text messages, social media and the stock market.
Once you finish your priority work for the day, leave “the office”. Remember to maintain work/life harmony and not work past your usual hours just because your office is just down the hall. Shut down your computer and spend some extra time when you would otherwise be commuting to connect with your family in whatever way is meaningful for them and for you.
And remember, working from home doesn’t mean you need to live in total isolation (unless you are under quarantine). If everyone is healthy, you can still meet up with your work team in small groups, if necessary, or get together outside for a hike and some team building time in nature. Just be sure to practice smart habits like good hand-washing and consider alternate greetings to shaking hands.
It’s About Time – your time…
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by work-from-home challenges, your Email, tasks or demands on your time, come join us for private productivity coaching and get customized help. You can book a free Discovery Call to learn more.
Looking for a super cost effective way to improve productivity skills? Consider our virtual “It’s About Time” program and community. Through this group program we provide affordable support and accountability to help you work smarter, not harder, and be more productive with the time you have each day.
Our members love the accountability that comes from their fellow members and the Simply Placed team. They’re accomplishing things that they wouldn’t on their own and it’s about time. Time for what matters most!
If you’d like to learn more about strategies to be more productive when you are working from home, check out the link below and register today!