Remote work became common several years ago, and today is something of a standard alongside going into the office. As such, many creative, marketing and digital professionals — from experienced work-from-home-ers to those seeking their first remote role — are looking for long-term strategies to enhance their productivity.
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Telecommuting has certain qualities that naturally promote efficiency (namely the lack of a commute). Yet, some of remote work’s greatest benefits, such as its flexibility, can be just as much a source of distractibility as productivity.
This is where the following tips come in: Whether you have been working remotely for some time or are just beginning a new role, the following strategies can help sharpen and hone your approach.
Separate Your Work From the Rest of Your Home
Physically going to an office automatically creates a clear distinction between work and home. But, the figurative line becomes much murkier when your work and home are one and the same. One frequent suggestion for remote workers is to imagine they are at work — rather than simply doing work.
The easiest way to achieve this is to set up a spot designated for work. Your workspace can be an actual study (with a door and everything!) should space permit— but maybe, your workspace is simply a small desk in the empty corner of your studio. Either can work. The bottom line is that it should be your place to work and only work. Over time, you’ll associate your work area with being at work. In turn, it may be easier to tap into the level of focus normally prompted by commuting to an actual office.
Adjust Your Work Atmosphere to Your Liking
A work from home perk: Now that your office and home are under the same roof, you don’t have to listen to pre-selected playlists or the ambient clacking of keyboards if you don’t want to. Do you thrive on total quiet? Find the most solitary space available to work. Wear earplugs. Miss the chaotic buzz of a bustling office? It’s not quite the real thing, but this may do the trick.
No matter your preferences as to your work atmosphere, the nice thing about working from home is you’ll have much more leeway in adjusting the music, the sounds, the space, the lighting, to your liking — and in turn, create an ideal atmosphere for boosting productivity.
Set a Schedule
Just as you would with an office job, develop a clear routine both before and during work. Schedule breaks. Take the breaks. Make lunch ahead of time and try to adhere to the same routine each day.
Setting a schedule and — (the hard part, for some of us) sticking to it — can be beneficial for a variety of working styles: Are you the type of person who becomes so immersed in work you lose all sense of time only to eventually look up and notice it is dusk? (And everyone else is offline?)
Being glued to the computer to the point of eye-glaze doesn’t necessarily enhance productivity; if anything, the opposite. This is particularly true if you’re stuck on a challenge or problem. Stepping away may, counterintuitively, be the very thing that allows you to complete your work more efficiently. So stretch routinely, chat with other members of the household. If you live alone, jump on a video call or go for a short walk. Even a brief interruption may help you snap free from the wheel-spinning, and in turn, approach your problem from a different angle.
Setting a schedule can be equally beneficial for those with the opposite problem: if you have trouble focusing for an extended period of time, working from home may make it all the easier to step away randomly, and too often. Try setting alarms for breaks. Walk around as frequently as needed but do so on a schedule. For some, being able to know they need only rely on the ding of their phone allows them to settle into the task at hand.
Remove Physical and Digital Distractions
Creating a home office will automatically separate you from the distractions of the TV, the gaming console, etc. That may be the easy part. Digital distractions — particularly those already on your phone or computer such as social media — require a mental separation. Consider turning off notifications for your social accounts, or simply log out altogether.
Create Office Hours
If possible, set specific hours you will be available by phone, messaging, email, and more. The potential stress of being available constantly may, in the end, hinder productivity. Prioritizing work-life balance can, instead, be the thing that allows you to be the most productive when you are working — and the freedom to recharge when you’re not.
A Few Final Thoughts
Remote work comes with its own unique benefits and challenges; while these can vary depending on your role and home, as a general rule some of the largest hindrances to productivity consist of home-specific distractions and the lack of an established schedule or routine. Keeping these potential challenges in mind and trying the above suggestions may be useful in maintaining or even enhancing your productivity as a creative, digital, or marketing professional looking to excel in a remote role. Good luck!
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