Working remotely is the new normal. The restriction of movement in many countries has forced many companies to embrace remote work as the new standard.
For many this is new, and the demands of working from home are hampering productivity. Even parent freelancers who are used to working from home, are breaking under the pressure of work and constant interference, with kids out of school. This article will identify nine things that can affect your productivity and offer suggestions to combat them.
- You are not working on a schedule.
It’s easy to wake up and simply work according to the demands of the day, but this is not helpful. Remote work is best done on a schedule. Here’s what happens when you don’t work on a schedule: you get frazzled by overwhelming demands, you multitask (in vain), you don’t get a break, and you’re ultimately unproductive.
Suggestion: Manage your time effectively by ordering your day and workload. Now is the time to use a work planner and schedule your activities to the extent that you can. Use reminders on Microsoft Office or on your devices for meetings and project timelines.
Take scheduled breaks. When you feel overwhelmed, that’s when you should get up and take a refreshing walk, have a cold drink, or eat a snack.
- You are not keeping in touch with friends
From time to time, you should keep in touch with your support system and team members. Sharing your struggles is more therapeutic than you can imagine. You may find the help you need from a conversation with a colleague, or discover new information to simplify your work process.
- You are taking on more than you can actually handle.
For freelancers, competition has never been rifer. With so many people out of jobs, you can be a job away from your present gig. This means you are constantly striving to deliver. This type of pressure can lead you to take on more than you can actually handle, and it leaves you feeling stressed and irritable.
Suggestion: Do what you can, stress is counterproductive. Networking is important, especially when you’re doing remote work. Always be on the lookout for excellent professionals you can partner with. Normalize collaboration (using the right collaborative tools), and delegate as much as you can.
- You are not using the right tools.
Doing remote work doesn’t have to be a chore, and working from home doesn’t have to hinder you from enjoying all the tools and resources you use on location. Applying tedious and outdated processes will only slow you down. From accounting, to graphic design, presentations and customer support, software tools (free and paid) abound to simplify your processes, such as communication and collaboration with others.
Suggestion: Find the most suitable tool for your work and business. When you do, you’ll find that you are able to boost your productivity with more time to execute your jobs effectively.
- You’re not using the right furniture!
Granted, you’re not used to this kind of life. You’ve been working in bed, on your sofa, or maybe even on the breakfast table. Perhaps you don’t realize that remote work is just as serious (and probably more so) as working in an office building downtown. You need a good chair. A good chair ensures that your back is properly supported to aid good posture. Experts have revealed that sitting in a bad chair can affect your posture, cause weight gain, fatigue, and a host of cardiovascular diseases.
Suggestion: As more organizations adopt remote work, you are likely to be working from home for a long time. So it’s important for you to take care of your health, just as you would expect a company to. If you’re in paid employment, your company should provide this on your behalf. If they won’t, request for it. If you’re working as a freelancer, you should invest in a good chair just as you invest in software tools.
- You’re not getting enough sleep.
We’ve all been there. You have nightmare-inducing deadlines that keeps you awake at odd hours and constantly working. There are several reasons why you should get enough sleep, but chief of them is the fact that it helps you to maintain clarity of thought and energizes you to deliver your targets.
This is why time scheduling is so important. When your time is properly apportioned, you can dedicate time to rest and reenergize yourself for future tasks. To be fair, sometimes, you are just overcome by the demands of work, but even in those times, it’s imperative that you take short breaks (when long ones are impossible) as often as you can.
Suggestion: Turn off your devices and get some good sleep. Schedule your day to incorporate rest.
- You are not taking advantage of your productive hours.
Are you a morning person or a night person? If you know the answer to this question, are you maximizing this period, or forcing yourself to work when your brain wants something else? Understanding yourself is key to boosting your productivity, and working from home affords you the opportunity to be flexible in determining your work hours.
Suggestion: Do a self-assessment of your work hours, and the times you’re more inclined to work. If you have not been working during your most productive hours, identify the reason(s) why and explore ways to change this.
- You’re on social media while you’re at work.
In most cases, no one is monitoring your internet activity when you work from home. There’s definitely no colleague snooping over your shoulder, and your boss cannot knock on your stall to catch you in the act. You are only accountable to yourself. But this freedom is a distraction that can prevent you from being productive.
I get it, sometimes you really need that distraction from the drudgery of work, and maybe you actually need to be on social media. But you’re still expected to deliver results and be productive. So what can you do?
Suggestion: Schedule your social media time, and activate apps and software that prevent your phone or computer from using social media. These software are also great for team leads who need to monitor employees in remote locations.
- You are not prepared for the kids!
Working from home (in a pandemic or otherwise) as a parent is like working four jobs. You’re doing your job, working as a homeschooler, cook and babysitter. It is utterly exhausting, and for most employees, this is the chief hindrance to productivity.
Anticipating your kids’ needs before the day begins, is a good way to ensure that your productivity does not tank. But much more than doing this, you need to also put them on a schedule, especially if they are of school age. It’s also important to set boundaries and delegate age-appropriate tasks to them. For example, you can teach them how to make simple snacks on their own. Let your schedule also include time-outs with them. You can let them know for instance, when your break is going to be, and encourage them to look forward to that time and let you work.
Suggestion: Get them snacks. Get them crafting materials. Keep them entertained with a book or games.
Although remote work is sometimes daunting, your productivity doesn’t have to decline. You can, in fact, be more productive than you’ve ever been. All you need to do is identify and avoid productivity stealers.