Staying On Task: Improving Productivity While Working From Home

By October 7, 2020Business

Staying on Task: Improving Productivity While Working From Home

 

As more and more collaborative working tools arise out of the pandemic, companies have altered their workflows, introducing deadline-based remote working. Many businesses have found that working from home is the easiest way to improve productivity and reduce spending. According to one study conducted in 2019 by Airtasker, employees working remotely work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year. Even many startups are working with the remote mindset, breaking the boundaries and going home-based, eliminating the need for office space in the process.

While it would seem that working from home would be a lot more comfortable, easier, and perhaps productive, Forbes has found the opposite to be true. 

As I’m sure you are aware, many people find working from home to be considerably more difficult than working in an office-based environment. This can be explained by the effects a dedicated environment has on a person and their focus on the task at hand. However, working from home isn’t a hard nut to crack and can be effectively carried out given proper steps are followed. Here is a list of tips and tricks that can keep you focused and on task when working from home.

Empty Computer desk

Satisfy the Necessary Prerequisites

Work from home can be made more comfortable, given that some basic necessities are fulfilled. This refers to the availability of a maintained work-supportive environment which generally falls into three categories:

A Personal Workspace

To work remotely, it is necessary to have a dedicated workspace to concentrate and focus, avoiding all sorts of diversions. Decluttering the workspace makes it easier to avoid all distractions and keep the focus pivoted on the task. The neater and organized the workspace is, the simpler it is to maintain focus on the task.

Required physical resources

The required physical resources include everything that’s necessary to get the job done, which mostly includes a laptop, wifi facility, necessary tools, and software. Make sure to have easy access to water as well. It is important to stay hydrated even while working on a laptop.

Dedicated time, free from commitments

Last but not least is the time to be invested in the task which has to be free of commitments, letting the person work with a fresh and unoccupied mind. Moreover, every person has their own specific way of working and distributing time relative to their efficiency pertaining to the task and its specific time slot. While some people find mornings to be fit for brainstorming and planning, quite a few feel like implementation is the best task to be done with a fresh mind.

Having all these requirements satisfied is the first step to a productive remote working venture. 

man on tablet

Discipline your Life

It’s natural, being human to have a mind full of various ideas and distractions, hobbies and pastimes, commitments, and engagements. Amid all these mental activities it’s necessary to introduce some sense of order or schedule to invest your time in every activity and not miss out on anyone. Organizing the day by maintaining some sort of planner or to-do list can be a healthy way of keeping time in good check and balance. This not only helps multitask but also improves the quality of each task, not letting anyone affect any other. 

pens on paper with sticky notes

Smart Task Breakdown

To complete a task, it’s very important to break it down into a series of small steps, approximating the time required to complete each step and jot it down in some to-do list. The small steps or chunks of the task should be created wisely and must conform to the following properties. 

Defined

The task chunk should be defined and relevant. So it should include work of a specific type. i.e. it should not include different tasks with different requirements.

Measurable

Each step should have a way to track work progress. i.e. the task should be divided into quantifiable steps, as having a trail of completed works boosts performance and makes you feel increasingly productive.

Attainable

Making sure your tasks are not only defined and measurable, but attainable within a timespan is important. It may not be feasible to complete an entire project in one day, and failing to meet a task goal can lead to demotivation. Make sure your tasks are small enough to be attainable but large enough to make a difference.

Time-Efficient

Knowing the time constraints for attainable task goals is important. Giving yourself a week to complete something that takes a day can lead to procrastination and a stressful crunchtime as the deadline approaches. Likewise, making a deadline nearly impossible to complete can lead to a lowered motivation to complete the task at all.

person using computer

Software Tools Support

The study referenced previously by Airtasker on people’s productiveness in remote work revealed that 29% of employees find it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance and 31% actually had to take a day off for their mental health. A helpful way to avoid the stress working from home can bring is through the use of software. Software built to help block out time and increase productivity can help alleviate issues relating to work-life balance. Psychology proves that people under some sort of check perform better than people left with the task on their own.

There are a number of applications available to help remote workers maintain a balance between life and work at home. A few of the best ones available include WorkflowMax, Due Time Tracking, Harvest, TopTracker, Tick, RescueTime, Toggl, Klok Desktop Application, etc. All these apps are designed specifically to log the time spent by a person over a particular task. Tracking time against the smart goals set above can help the person considerably improve their productivity. 

a tomato

The Promodoro Technique

Even after checking the above-mentioned list, some people still find it hard to complete their tasks. Quite a few people fall into a routine of procrastination and when they finally get to it, it’s all overwhelming. Sometimes it’s as simple as being completely unmotivated or simply bored with the tasks at hand. According to the study already quoted, 37% of remote workers and 35% of office workers said they “procrastinated on a task until its deadline.” A good way to combat this can be the use of the famous Promodoro strategy.

The Promodoro Technique is a simple work distribution and time management technique designed to help a person work productively without getting overwhelmed. The technique effectively helps the person make the task fun by getting themselves to work and concentrate in small chunks of sheer focus and attention and afterward rewarding themselves with a small break to relax and relieve. The break, however, should not be long enough to engage in some other activity or break the working temperament. This technique is proven to bring forward better results when followed efficiently. The official website claims to have improved the working pace of around 2 million people through this strategy. Listed below are the steps in the Promodoro Technique:

 

Choose a task.

Set a 25-minute timer.

Work until the timer rings.

Checkmark the to-do list for a successful lapse completion.

Take a break (traditionally 5 minutes only).

After 4 lapses, take a longer break.

empty desk with imac

Sign Off When Necessary

The need to be productive is understandable and important, but sometimes stressing too much about it leads to lowered productivity. It’s wise to try and work hard, but pushing yourself way too much can have real negative consequences. It’s necessary to realize work patterns before jumping on the working of a task. Everyone has their own distinct way of getting a job done and understanding that way is the key to staying productive. While some people find it easy to work in the morning, many nocturnal workers attain better efficiency at night. Similarly, while some people plan and then implement, many people simultaneously proceed with both. The point being, that understanding the workflow is quite significant and should be analyzed.

 

The list shared above aims to help every person struggling for productivity to efficiently get their tasks completed. However, the most important thing of all is to achieve the motivation and willingness to improve yourself. Moreover, the human mind is a highly saturated ball of ideas with infinite possibilities. All of the aspects shared here are the ones that hold good for a majority of people. Reading and analyzing these steps and comparing them with your own implementation to find the lackings can be the best way to start fresh on a productive remote working venture. 

 

Cole Troester

Author Cole Troester

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