How to Boost Productivity while Working from Home
Find your focus with these three tips for remote workers.April 7, 2021
Whether it’s your permanent situation or a COVID condition, remote working productivity can ebb and flow. Somedays, we dominate our task list and wrap up the workday feeling like a champ. Other days, that list just seems to grow without any feeling of progress.
But if you are experiencing more of the latter right now, we have a few tips that just might help you stay productive and reclaim your champion status.
Here are three ways to boost your work-from-home productivity:
1. Edit your environment.
We’ll start with a hard truth: A cluttered workspace can be catastrophic for your productivity.
Was that too dramatic? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Think about how a misplaced note-to-self about upcoming deadlines can interrupt what you’re doing, derailing your efficiency. Or how it’s a time-wasting nuisance (and safety hazard) navigating your desk chair around that tangled-cord-death-trap you’ve got running to the outlet. Not to mention the subconscious stress and general distraction messy spaces inevitably bring. The elements of your environment might very well be working against you. But, simply by straightening things up, you can inject some oomph and flow back into our workday, and mood.
To start, identify your problem area(s).
Does your desktop not have enough space to keep everything you need accessible-but-neat? Consider a laptop riser or computer stand that fits your calendar, notepad, keyboard, etc. underneath. Working at a table or desk without built-in storage? Add self-stick drawers to help keep the clutter of supplies contained. Maybe go for a stylish upgrade to the old-school letter tray or mail sorter to keep any needed documents handy.
Or, maybe cables are the culprit? The tech it takes to work from home can require a lot of wires and cords, but it is possible to keep them all connected and tidy. Look to your power sources first. Are your outlets overloaded, forcing you to play musical plugs throughout the day depending on which device’s battery is lowest? Upgrading to USB Outlets that feature traditional power access as well as built-in USB connections is a great first step in simplifying your setup. Still need more power? That’s okay – sometimes power strips and extension cords are necessary, but they don’t have to interfere with your organizational efforts. Conceal the bulk with a sleek cord cover box, or even creative décor (plants are great for the home office!), then use cable wraps, ties or clips to contain and straighten wires as necessary, running them on the underside of a desk or table, or neatly behind your main setup
2. Make yourself move.
Maybe when you think about increased productivity, you envision yourself chained to your desk, typing furiously, as long as it takes to put a neat little checkmark beside every listed to-do.
But for many of us, that’s not sustainable…or even how we’d do our best work. Overtime, a totally sedentary routine can exhaust you mentally, dulling your focus or limiting your creativity. So, start making yourself move more. Take several short but strategic breaks, or maybe situate yourself in different positions throughout the day, and you’ll likely find a bit more energy for getting things done.
One way to do this is to multi-task with movement. Simple, light hand weights or grip strengtheners can be used while on a call to add some action. An under-desk pedal bike can get the blood pumping in your legs while you answer emails.
Not one for multi-tasking? Try using a timer method like the Pomodoro Technique to insert quick breaks – a great opportunity for movement – between tasks. Handy for general time management as well, the basic tactic has you set a timer for a pre-determined interval, usually 25 minutes. Select a task and remove all distractions, then stay focused on working for the entire duration. When the timer goes off, you give yourself a five-minute break. Stand, stretch, dance, throw in a load of laundry, do jumping jacks. Then set the timer for another 25 minutes and conquer your next task.
And, if you are interested in making more of an investment in movement or flexibility while working, you might consider a balance ball desk chair for ergonomic “active sitting,” or spring for a convertible desk that lets you easily adjust its height level to stand for parts of the day – available in full desk options, as well as more affordable tabletop versions. While designed largely for health and lifestyle benefits, they present a great opportunity for productivity boosting as well.
3. Find your light.Bursts of productivity and motivation can sometimes feel like they happen magically, appearing out of thin air. But there is probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for those spikes of focus if you look at your surroundings. Things like temperature, ambient sounds, aroma and light level can make a difference in how you feel, physically and mentally, and thus impact how well you work. And since remote workers have much more control over these elements than those in a shared office, you can adjust them! Starting with one of the simplest, and most impactful, elements: lighting.
Are you the kind of person who feels freshest, or has your best and brightest ideas, first thing in the morning? When you picture yourself owning your to-do list and being your best self, is the light around you soft, white like it’s 8 am on a clear spring day? Or, do you typically get that afternoon rush, once you’ve fully shaken off the grogginess and really found your stride? Does that late-day sunshine, warmed to a yellower glow, usually give you a surge? Either way, you can absolutely tailor the lighting in your home workspace to help you find the zone and feel your best. Sites for stores like Home Depot and Menard’s let you browse bulbs by light color/temperature. And, with dimmable versions in all various tones – soft vs bright, cool vs warm – you can change the light level to find your exact productivity preference.
Then, pair your preferred bulb with a versatile Smart Dimmer to get precisely the right light for going into boss mode, with the ease of automation and app control. Always get a post-lunch slump? Schedule the lights to automatically adjust for your needs by always brightening at 1pm, right when you need the pick-me-up. By taking control of these details of your environment, you can set yourself up for more magically productive moments.
Simple suggestions for designing a great at-home office or workspace.