Date posted: 22/05/2020 5 min read

6 ways to stay productive while working from home

Working remotely has its challenges, especially if the kids are home, too. Stay productive and avoid burnout with these tips.

In Brief

  • Remote working at home blurs the healthy boundary between work and home life.
  • To avoid burnout, limit yourself to set work hours and plan to have regular breaks, as you would in the office.
  • Use some sort of signal to flag to other household members when you can’t be disturbed.

As organisations come to terms with the COVID-19 situation, an increasing number of us will be working remotely at least some of the time over the next weeks or months. Many in the accounting profession will have worked remotely at various times throughout their careers, especially as deadlines loom and work gets taken home. Although working remotely comes with its challenges – especially if you have children at home, too – there are six easy things you can do to stay productive.

1. Keep your work routine

It will help if you can keep to your regular routine as much as possible. This includes setting your alarm at your usual time and getting out of your pyjamas before starting work. Getting dressed helps make the mental switch in your mind between home and work. Set up regular times for breaks, and have a start and end time to your working hours. One of the traps with working remotely is losing that healthy boundary between home and work, so you end up doing just one more thing late at night before you go to bed. It’s important that even when your workplace is your home, work does not become your entire life.

2. Plan your day

At the start of the day, plan the tasks you are going to do for that day and follow the same guidelines you would while working in the office. Do your highest priority tasks first during your greatest energy periods. If you have other family members in the home, you might have to factor in planning your work around their needs. It’s important to still have breaks throughout the day, but set yourself strict time limits on how long they will be.

3. Use technology to connect

You may not be able to connect with your colleagues in person, but there are a lot of ways you can use technology to check in with their wellbeing, have meetings and collaborate on projects even while working remotely. Pick up the phone and ring them rather than email them if you get a chance, as it will help to check on their welfare as well as maintain the relationship connection.

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4. Have a stop light for family members

Have a visual symbol for household members to tell them when you are working. It might be anything from a closed door on your home office to a red hand towel hanging over the chair near where you’re working at the dining table. This lets other people at home know when you are working (in a meeting or making a call, etc), so they know they need to be quiet and to come back later with their questions.

5. Designate a separate comfortable workspace

You might not have the luxury of a separate home office, but if there is some way you can delineate your workspace and have an ergonomic chair you will be more productive. It is best not to work in a lounge chair, for example, as it is not only bad for your posture but also for your focus.

6. Limit distractions

Although working remotely removes the distractions of the open-plan offices, there are other things that may take your focus off your work. You can help yourself by removing browser shortcuts for social media, removing them from your toolbar bookmarks, or signing out of all your social media accounts during working hours.

You can also use technology to set timers for how long you will stay on a task before you have a break.

The other distraction to limit is the things that need doing around your home. The cleaner your home and your working space, the less inclined you will feel to distract yourself by doing household chores.

As challenging as working remotely can be, it can also be incredibly productive and rewarding. There are opportunities to create new work habits, to find new ways of doing things and to do things you enjoy in the time you would otherwise spend commuting.

“It’s important that even when your workplace is your home, work does not become your entire life.”
Petris Lapis

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