Do you easily get distracted and feel frustrated while working remote? We share 7 proven things you can do to enjoy productive remote work lifestyle.
Gone are the days when the workforce was monotonous — you go out of your home to a dedicated building, space or office with drab cubicles and return at the close of the day. Today, with the explosion of technology and the dotcom with the domestication of PCs and mobile devices, the work lifestyle has changed and a lot of persons and organisations around the world are embracing the remote work lifestyle for increased productivity and flexibility. Since 2005, the world population of remote workers has grown by over 140% creating new opportunities for individuals and allowing them to choose their working hours.
As interesting and fascinating as that is, the problem with the remote work lifestyle is a lot of remote workers struggle with how to create remote workspaces and routines and maintain a productive and creative work-life balance from home that is free of distraction.
According to the Buffer State of Remote Work survey for 2019, 84% of remote workers work from their home. That means that most people work and live in the same place which is the biggest struggle remote workers have: unplugging after work.
It is true that remote work allows you a lot of flexibility and you get to spend more time with your family and go on vacations but as a remote worker you could be caught up in a lot of mess and frustration if you don’t put in some checks and balances to this new lifestyle.
Your home could be equally or more distracting, especially if you have kids around or you live in an environment surrounded by neighbours who fire up all sorts of powerful audio machines or take your being around as a licence to intrude your privacy. Aside from that, you could also be your own worst enemy as you have the liberty to do whatever you like and be lazy to meet deadlines.
Below are 7 proven incredible things you should do to help you seamlessly work remotely, break distraction links and shoot up your productivity.
Create a Work-Mode Ambience
When I started freelancing I worked from anywhere in the home — on my bed, on the sofa in front of a TV (huh!), and often in a messy room with bits of everything scattered all around. I would cringe on why I couldn’t get much done on time and often feel stressed out and not motivated. But here was the answer staring at me in the face — my lifestyle was killing my vibe, productivity and creativity and that needed to change.
To be an effective remote worker, you’ve got to be intentional about creating a workspace for yourself at home. This is key and you don’t need to break the bank to make it happen. If you’ve got an extra room you could convert it to your office and tone it up with things that give you the vibe to work. You should also consider having lots of free space by getting rid of things that aren’t needed. To do this you should ask yourself these 3 questions:
- “Do I really need this to get my work done?”
- “Does this give me the motivation to work?”
- “Is this important to keep?”
For every item you answered ‘NO’ to, you don’t need them and throwing them out will help you achieve a comfortable workplace that’ll reduce distraction and increase your productivity.
What if you don’t have an extra room? Well, pick a favourite spot and declutter it. Ensure what you really need for work is what you have around you. Personally, I wouldn’t advise you to use your bedroom, as you may be tempted to take unnecessary naps. Also, you should invest in comfort for the sake of productivity and ensure you consider ergonomics when setting-up your workspace. Poor ergonomics can be a real problem as you’re going to spend lots of time in your workspace. You don’t want to sit on a chair that aches your back or strain your legs.
You could also change work locations once in a while by taking time out to a co-working space or going to the coffee shop if you need a new ambience. Co-working spaces are particularly helpful as they are designed to help you achieve maximum productivity with minimal cost.
Block Out the Noise
Regardless of where you decide to work, there’s always going to be one common denominator: Noise.
Work from your home and your neighbor’s home-alone dog will bark you out of focus like cops march out criminals. Work at the coffee shop down the street and expose yourself to traffic noise and coffee shop chatter, work from a co-working space and be at the mercy of the noise from other remote workers sharing your space. In all these cases, there’s nowhere you can enjoy a business call without getting distracted by the noise, don’t even think of a conference call, that’ll be chaos.
One thing you can do however, is take advantage of apps like Krisp which integrates with thousands of third-party apps and allows you to make and receive noiseless calls by filtering out noise.
According to a Harvard report when we work in an ambience of greenery, we achieve a 26% boost in cognition and lower sickness and stress by 30%. A proven way to boost your productivity and concentration is to include some greenery in your workspace. Aesthetic plants such as Areca Palm, Chinese Evergreen, Snake Plant, Warneck Dracaena, are good examples of plants you can keep at a strategic location in your workplace. According to a study at Exeter University, this will help you improve productivity by 15%. Sometimes, little things such as ensuring enough natural lighting could also increase your mental energy and effectiveness at work.
You can also place real plants at strategic locations where you work. They help filter the air because carbon is stored in plants. They are also beautiful to see and will help you achieve a more peaceful and enjoyable atmosphere.
Fix Your Schedule to Your Prime Hours
It is often said that the morning hours are probably the most productive period. A lot of us rush to do the most in the morning. While this is awesome, not everyone is a morning person. Some of us are at our best in the afternoon, or in the evening, or at night when others are asleep. For example, I have different peak periods. I do very well like a lot of people in the morning, after 2 hours nap in the afternoon and late at night when others are asleep. These are times I don’t joke with or allow people to interrupt me with distractions and it has helped a lot.
You have to know what works best for you and leverage on your flexible schedule to accommodate your work patterns: take frequent breaks as when you feel exhausted. You may take a walk, listen to cool audio to stimulate your brain instead of trying to force it.
Throw Your Phone Out of the Room
You may think that having your phone with you to check one or two things as they pop up is a nice idea, but it’s not. Nowadays there are several apps to help us stay productive but in most cases, it is best to remove your phone from your workspace or turn it off for the period you are working. But sometimes, this may be uneasy if you use your phone as a hotspot when you have to go online or use slack. A simple solution is to use some app freezing software to prevent notifications from social accounts from popping up.
You should know that your phones have an impact on your mental health and emotions. The dopamine responses in the brain spur us to engage in pleasure-seeking behaviour where we use our phone.
In another research, it was found that after hearing or feeling an alert on one’s phone the rate of errors made was about the same as if they had actually answered the call or message and the probability of this errors increases by 23% after getting a text and 28% after getting a phone call. Your phone can be a productivity killer and you have to keep it off to avoid distraction.
Set Reasonable Boundaries
One major form of distraction that seems unavoidable if you work at home is interruptions from family members, friends and neighbours. If you have little kids, they may mess up the house and your spouse may need you urgently to help with a few things. Or your neighbour may come to knock on your door to tell you about the leaking water pipe outside the home — because they know you are always around. These may kill your creativity and distract your focus from finishing through with work on time.
You would save yourself these distractions if you notify your neighbours and family that you would not entertain them at your working hours. If you have little kids you might want to consider engaging the services of a nanny to assist you with the kids. This will free up some time for you and let you concentrate on work.
Have a To-Do List
If you really want to have a smooth lifestyle as a remote worker you need to prioritize your activities and a to-do list will help you get a lot done faster. The idea is not to follow some rigid pattern, but to have something that serves as a guide and saves you time for thinking or worrying about what to do at a particular moment. As soon as you wake up, your to-do list will give you a sense of direction and tell you what task to do at a certain time.
On your to-do list, you could have a set of routines, for morning and evening. This helps you to know when to commence work and when to end. Your morning routine may look like this:
- (6:00 a.m.) Wake up from bed
- (6:10 a.m.) Do some light exercises
- (6:30 a.m.) Shower and prepare for the day
- (7:00 a.m.) Get the kids ready for school
- (7:30 a.m.) Make coffee and have breakfast while listening to an audiobook
- (8:00 a.m.) Write
- (8:30 a.m.) Start work
Having a to-do list also helps you regulate your work time so that you can rest and attend to other things, including family. In the evening, you may time yourself to finish work by 5:00 p.m. and take some time out with family and friends. This simple habit keeps you committed and disciplined and would make you more productive as a remote worker.
Eat Well and Exercise
You’ve probably heard about Isaac Newton getting buried in his work so much that he forgets to eat lunch — it happens a lot to people working alone and on a task, they are passionate about. When you get deep into your work you might get tempted to skip meals and eat unhealthily, this is dangerous to your wellbeing and productivity in the long run.
The overwhelming task at hand and the race to beat deadlines can make you not care about what you eat. As a result, you settle for junk food and carbonated drinks. This is not only dangerous for your health, it also reduces your productivity level. According to the Population Health Management journal, there is a 66% increased risk of loss of productivity associated with unhealthy eating habits, and 50% increased risk of low productivity for rare exercise.
You should also consider light exercise that helps stimulate the brain and keep you active. This will improve your mental awareness, reduce health-related illness and increase your productivity and agility at work and in every aspect of your life.
Productivity is not a one-off thing that you do it’s a lifestyle and you have to adjust and adapt yourself to it regularly as your circumstances change. You may have a very productive remote work life before you start your own family, but when you finally do, there’s going to be a lot of changes and new distractions you have to deal with. You’ll need to adapt and evolve. Working remotely is one of the most fascinating and joyful things to do and you have to stay focused and develop positive habits that will help you to successfully adapt.