Working Remotely: 7 tips to Increase Productivity and Reduce Stress
Working remotely challenges efforts for work/life productivity and satisfaction. Here are seven tips for managing distractions and stress.
COVID19 ushered in a demand for employees to work from home 100% of the time. During the weeks and months of working remotely, many professionals lament about their lack of productivity and increases in stress and fatigue. They say:
- “I save 2 hours a day working remotely, but I worry I’m wasting those extra 10 hours a week.”
- “I feel busy all day, but don’t get enough done. Too often, I end up spinning my wheels.”
- “Others keep distracting me, and I feel stressed and scattered.”
- “I feel lethargic and unmotivated.”
How often have you felt demoralized, distracted, or disorganized?
Why do these working-at-home problems occur?
There are six common reasons problems occur when working remotely:
- Unstructured time. When based in an office, you know when to arise, how long it takes to get ready, and when to begin your workday. None of these times are necessarily scheduled for you when working remotely. What about you? Are you in your sweats, un-showered, and beginning to work after 1 pm?
- Lack of routines. You lack the habits to start and finish tasks, balance work/life responsibilities, and get adequate sleep or exercise.
- Multiple and unremitting distractions. Family, friends, and co-workers assume you’ll be ready to respond whenever they interrupt you immediately.
- Lack of everyday services. Before the Coronavirus, you had access to time- and chore-saving services. Now, instead of sending out the cleaning, dining out, and using housecleaning services, you are doing all the cooking and cleaning chores.
- Added responsibilities. When schools and childcare services disappeared, new roles emerged for you as a teacher or caregiver. Stress abounds when you are unsure of when or how well you can succeed at these additional responsibilities.
- Additional stress. Even blessed with good health, you worry about possible illness, uncertain economic times, and the nation’s state.
Working from Home Productivity: Solving problems
When remotely working, these problems may sabotage your performance. However, you may feel at a loss about ways to solve them. Commonly, this results in you feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and irritable.
Practical, research-based strategies can help. You can’t control the economy, but while working at home, you can use strategies to manage your work/life activities better.
In general, you gain greater control when you specify current actions that yield productivity and less frustration or irritability. Rule One: commit to maintaining activities that help and schedule them during your day. You’ll find you are accomplishing more and in greater control than you think. Congratulate yourself. Rule Two: commit to enhancing one thing at a time. You remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Rule Three: Start by focusing on the positives. Select, monitor, and reflect upon the aspects of work/life that will contribute to your productivity and feelings of satisfaction.
Working Remotely: 7 Tips to Enhance Productivity and Feelings of Satisfaction
- Develop an adequate and restful sleep schedule. Remember, fatigue makes you vulnerable to stress and reduces your mental alertness.
- Separate your workspace from other areas of your home. For example, put a ribbon around your work area to create a “No Fly” zone. Others need to respect your space, even if your mini home office is a table and chair.
- Establish a work-week morning routine. For example, get up at a reasonable time, dress, do a few chores, and get your lunch ready. Set the alarm to help you begin work on time.
- Post your work/day schedule and check accomplishments (or barriers to attainment.) Include mini-breaks (10-15 minutes) when completing tasks requiring focus and high accuracy. Include 1 to 2 longer breaks throughout the day. Include exercise and relaxation times as well as reaching out to communicate and support others.
- Use apps to aid in time, task, and stress management. For example, use Trello (www.Trello.com) to list your jobs, manage projects, and communicate with teams. Use Calm (www.calm.com) or Headspace (www.headspace.com) to relax or meditate and use Focus Keeper (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/focus-keeper-time-management/id867374917 to manage time on task and breaks.)
- Monitor task/time activities to identify the times and ways you work most effectively. How have you decreased the needless distractions from others? How do you manage to turn off the TV or digital devices, so you go to bed at a reasonable hour?
- Make your work/life a family affair. Establish rules, routines, and positives for productivity and satisfaction. How can you infuse positivity and humor into the day? Have you considered brief family meetings to review daily or weekly feelings and accomplishments? Do you have a suggestion box? Have you let go of things that just can’t get done given the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus and work at home?
Working remotely? Best practices
It is no small task to be—and feel–productive and less stressed. A conscious and systematic approach helps to avoid feeling frustrated, scattered, and irritable all day.
Your first step may be as simple as adding more mini-breaks and stretches during your day. Another step may be reaching out to find an accountability buddy. There are clear benefits from connecting with a buddy when beginning your day’s work or exercise. Other small steps are to schedule tasks involving analytical thinking during times when you are most alert. To reduce needless distractions, post a “Quiet Please” or “Do Not Disturb” sign near your workspace.
None of us know how long the Coronavirus will require working at home. However, using tips to be more productive and less stressed helps you stay on track and meet the challenges you face.
For more productivity tips, review my books and blogs at www.managingyourmind.com/blog.
Interested in chatting about the benefits of coaching for you, contact Geri at firstname.lastname@example.org.