You have probably worked from home quite a bit in the last few years, and it doesn't take a lot to realize that without a clear-cut plan or strategy, your productivity is bound to drop like a stone.
So what can you do to maintain productivity and manage distractions while working remotely? We will attempt to answer that question in this blog post, so let's jump in.
Have a clear work schedule
If your idea of having a productive day is to firefight everything that comes your way, then you are not going to have a very productive day.
It would help if you constructed a schedule to remove anxiety arising from ambiguity and better plan your time and resources.
Not only do you have to list what you will do throughout your day but also when you will do them. This is where a time blocking method makes sense: you essentially block your calendar for a particular time slot to work on a single task or a batch of similar tasks.
You can time block easily on Routine. All you need to do is drag and drop your task item into your calendar, and you're good to go.
Limit non-work communication & set boundaries
While it is inevitable that you have to interact with others throughout the day, it should not stop you from being able to manage communications effectively.
One of the best ways to do that would be to block time for communication and not let it interfere while you are working.
Something that I do regularly is set up a time every day to check my email and only do it during that time slot. And this email checking schedule of mine is communicated to the team, so they know that if they need to reach me urgently, they will need to go through another channel.
This helps me avoid checking my email constantly and streamlines my communication process. You would be surprised how many things that seem urgent are not as important as they seem at first sight.
Do not multi-task
When your plate is full, it is easy to get overwhelmed and try to multi-task. But multi-tasking is hurting your productivity rather than helping it.
When you constantly context switch, which multi-taskers do, you need your brain to refocus within short time frames.
However, your brain can't refocus that quickly, and you'll waste more time than you would have otherwise had you just stuck to a task and finished it.
When you multi-task, you are more likely to make mistakes because your working memory is stretched to its limits. Mistakes equal more time spent redoing or modifying tasks rather than focusing and getting something done.
Take short strategic breaks
While your break hours don't count towards working hours by definition, they do however enhance your performance during working hours.
Research has consistently shown that taking strategic breaks can be a real boost to your productivity both in the short and long term.
You can use the Pomodoro method to build breaks into your work schedule. Get started with a 25-minute work slot followed by a 5-minute break, and as you build the capacity for working longer durations at a stretch, you can increase your work slot.
Remember that you should not engage in work-related activities when you take a break. Instead, choose to do other things like taking a quick walk, listening to music, meditation, etc.
And finally, listen to your body; when you feel like you are done for the day, closeout and do not overwork yourself.
Build a focus-inducing workspace
Creating a workspace doesn't just mean comfortable chairs and desks but also enabling a setup that reduces distraction triggers and removes unnecessary friction to start working.
One of the first things to do while setting up your workspace is to clean up and ensure that nothing but the essential items are on the desk. This means no cell phone notifications, unorganized stationery, food, etc.
You can also consider investing in noise-cancellation headphones, one of the best things I've bought for under $50.
Apart from your deskspace, also pay attention to your desktop. Clean your digital workspace by removing unnecessary folders, closing distracting tabs, muting notifications, etc.
Eat the frog
The most difficult part about working on a challenging task is getting started. And "Eat the frog" method can help simplify decision-making.
The idea is that as soon as you start your workday, you pick the most challenging yet essential task and finish it as soon as possible.
You reduce the anxiety you might otherwise build up throughout the day if you keep postponing the challenging task because you didn't want to process it.
So that is all about reducing distractions and getting productive while working remotely or from home. What are your thoughts on the hacks and tips shared? Let us know on Twitter at @RoutineHQ.
Thanks for reading.