While working from home was novel and fun at first, the longevity of it may depend on whether or not employees can work through all the distractions that working from home offers. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
Earlier this week, multiple tech companies said they’re thinking about letting their employees work from home well after state stay at home orders are lifted. Google plans to allow its employees to work from home for the rest of 2020 (The Verge), while Nationwide is talking about making work from home permanent for a majority of its employees (Fortune).
Whether you’re one of the many who has trouble staying on task, or just someone who wants to make sure they’re working at the optimum level, here are some tips to help you stay productive.
It’s tempting to think that doing multiple things at once simply makes you productive, but the truth is that multitasking is hurting you mentally. Neuroscientists have found that not only is multitasking impossible, but it’s also potentially dangerous as shown with the increasing number of accidents that occur when someone is texting while driving.
In an article for Time Magazine, Dr. Cynthia Kubu and Dr. Andre Machado wrote, “…repeatedly switching back and forth from project to project, like a hummingbird darting from flower to flower and then back to the original flower, can impair our ability to function at our finest.”
Focus on one task at a time, you will prevent distractions and your brain will thank you for it.
Skip the Daytime Household Chores
It’s tempting to look at the sink and say, “I’ll get back to work right after I clean the dishes.” Or sit down at your desk only to remember that there’s a load of laundry that needs to be done. Understandably, you want to feel like you’re checking household chores off your list.
However, much like multitasking, you’re not getting as much done as you think. According to CNBC, doing chores and work together “…actually leads to a decrease in productivity because it takes your brain extra time to switch mental gears between tasks.”
Scheduled Tasks and Time
We talked about this in our post 7 Essential Tips for Working From Home, but scheduling will help you manage your time and make sure that you get done what you’re supposed to when you’re supposed to.
If you stick to a schedule and keep yourself on task, you’re less likely to find yourself drifting off to Netflix in the middle of the day.
When you create that schedule, make sure that you include breaks. According to Forbes, “Without taking adequate breaks from work, employee productivity, mental well-being, and overall work performance begin to suffer. Overworked employees often deal with chronic stress that can easily lead to job burnout. While this not only negatively affects employee health and well-being, it negatively affects the bottom line, too.”
Breaks give your brain a chance to recharge and reset. That’s good not only for your productivity but your mental health as well.
When it’s time to focus, I mean, really focus. Turn off your cell phone, disconnect the wi-fi (unless needed for your job), and get to work. There will be times when disconnecting will be your best tool in making sure that you avoid distractions and get done what you need to get done.
It’s a lot easier to finish that urgent report when you’re not distracted by a Twitter dive into the latest celebrity feud or the latest episode of your favorite TV show on your DVR.
Disconnecting is sometimes your best bet to avoid distractions.
Heed Your Body’s Cues
As a parent, I understand that it’s tempting to work late at night because that’s when you get the most accomplished, but there’s a point where it’s too late. When it gets to be too late, your mind stops working as quickly and sharply. Not only does it take longer to get tasks accomplished, but the work you complete is less than ideal.
Heed the cues your body is giving you and go to sleep when it gets to be too late at night. In the morning, you can revisit your work and you’ll discover you are much more efficient and useful.
Hopefully, some of these ideas will be beneficial for you. If you are one of the many working at home with kids, check out my previous post here. It talks about strategies to juggle work and parenthood while being at home.
Written by Erika Towne