The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many things, such as how to build stronger communities, how invaluable the NHS is, and that we can do a lot more than we realised. It’s also taught us how to work from home. Many people were forced to work remotely during the height of the pandemic, and many still continue to do so. Employers are furthermore offering more remote jobs, after seeing how successful this can be. 

Working from home can actually boost an employee’s productivity. They have more flexibility, and can therefore plan their time better. Working remotely also offers opportunities for people with outside commitments, such as taking care of children or an elderly relative. By offering a flexible schedule through remote work, you may be able to attract talent you weren’t able to before, and increase staff loyalty. 

There is still a risk that people will become distracted when working from home though. You’re surrounded by all your stuff, and it can be tempting to take lots of breaks. From cleaning and tidying to completing that morning's crossword puzzles, there will always be something that can distract you in your own home. 

So how do you ensure you’re being as productive as you can be, when working remotely? We’ve outlined five great ways to improve your productivity below:

1. Separate Your Work and Home Life

Once you start working in your living space, you’ll find it difficult to separate the two concepts. If you find yourself sitting in your kitchen or living room, working until late into the night, you need to reevaluate your work-life balance. The easiest way to do this is to create a designated workspace, preferably in a different room to where you spend most of your leisure time. 

It’s also important to think about where you’ll get some peace and quiet in your home. You may need some form of background noise in order to concentrate, but too much sound and chaos is bound to be distracting. This can be difficult to achieve if your room options are limited, and it’s hard to get away from a play area or living room. But at the very least, you should opt for a room with a door!

2. Keep to a Schedule

Just as it’s crucial to separate your work and living spaces, it’s just as important that you clearly divide your time. Working overly long hours can not only lead to burnout, it can also negatively affect your health and sleeping habits. It’s much better to work smarter than for more hours - if you can’t get everything done in your normal work day, you either need to find a new way of working, or maybe a new job. 

Your employer may be setting unrealistic expectations in terms of how much you can do on an average day. You should probably speak to them about this if it’s causing you stress. And once your workload seems more manageable, make sure you plan each day so that you never miss a deadline. 

modern home office working from home

3. Bring the Outside In

If you’re working from home each day, and don’t tend to go out that often in the evening, you may find yourself getting a bit stir crazy. A great way to combat this, other than going outdoors more frequently, is to bring a little greenery inside. Perhaps find a desk plant, or place a vase of fresh flowers in your eyeline. Plants have not only been shown to be good for your mental health, they also provide you with a bit of visual variety, when you’ve been staring at a screen for hours. 

You may not have a green thumb, and be concerned about killing plants within a week or two. If this is the case, you can get something resilient, such as a succulent or cactus. Alternatively, you can simply move your desk so that you’re facing a window, and can see the plants outside. 

4. Keep it Tidy

This one may seem fairly obvious, but some people are naturally tidier than others, and don’t struggle as much keeping their work area neat and organised. So what should you keep on your desk? According to Engineer Your Space, a DIY home design company, not a lot. You should have anything you’ll need on a regular basis, such as folders housing your current projects, but little else.

So get rid of any extra piles of paper, books, and half empty mugs. These things can cause you to get distracted, and reduce your productivity. Allow yourself enough space to work and think!

It’s also worth noting that a messy house can be just as distracting as a messy desk. While you may not be able to see your unmade bed or untidy living room, it may still play on your mind. Shutting the door to your office probably won’t convince your brain that the mess has disappeared! So try to tidy up a bit before you go to bed each night, ready to start fresh in the morning.

5. Take Regular Breaks

Another thing you can do in order to stay productive is to take regular breaks. This may sound counterintuitive, but taking time away from your computer can help you feel refreshed and ready to get back to work. Make sure that you time your breaks though - if they’re too long, you won’t get much work done, while incredibly short breaks could just be an interruption when you’ve hit your groove.

You may also wish to consider how meaningful your breaks are. Are you aimlessly scrolling through your social media feed, or actively trying to relax? Taking a walk can be a good way to recharge your batteries, or you could look for inspiration by reading journals and articles related to your work. And if neither of those things sound appealing, keep trying different break-time activities until you hit upon the one that best suits you.

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