Procrastination, you are probably doing it right now. Reading relevant COVID and remote work articles to stay informed and better yourself at work… instead of getting that looming project done. So how do you stay productive and efficient in an environment that is normally your place to relax?

The first step is to set up your office space. A rundown of how to create your optimal office space at home can be found in our Working with Remote Team’s blog post: Creating an Ideal Home Office. The second step is to set a schedule.

Down the Rabbit Hole

It is much easier to fall down the rabbit hole of wasting time when working remotely. Your boss is halfway across the city, who will know  you spent 20 minutes watching Buzzfeed videos on Youtube? No one but you. However, your boss will be able to recognize when your work begins to lag behind your normal output. Managing your work and home life while working remotely requires a different type of schedule than working in an office. 

Steps to managing remote work productivity:

  1. Setting a Schedule
    You might think that setting a schedule is simple and requires little time; you just plug a few meetings into your calendar and work on projects in between them. Do not do this. When working from home this can create a blur between work and home life  and negatively impact mental health as well as relationships. Your day needs more structure, at least until you can adjust to working from home as a lifestyle rather than a forced circumstance.
  2. Get up
    If you would normally get up for work at 7:00am to get to your office job for 8:30am, continue to do so. However, instead of commuting in the morning give yourself that time to pursue one of your hobbies or get in your daily physical activity. This time can help mentally prepare you for the day as well as improve your mental health and well being. 
  3. Block out your day
    At the start of every work day, schedule what you would like to accomplish and block expected amounts of time for each. Do not be unrealistic because setting goals and not being able to attain them can demotivate you and lead to a decrease in productivity. When blocking out your day, make sure to account for longer communication times as you do not have the same luxury of vicinity to your coworkers.
  4. Take breaks
    It is natural to get burnt out if you work for hours at a time. Natural office chit chat actually helps refresh employees by giving them a quick break from their screens. When at home you do not have other employees stopping by your desk and when answering questions remotely, it is usually through messaging apps like Slack with no face-to-face interaction. So schedule yourself some 5 minute breaks to play with your dog, get up from your desk and stretch, or refresh your coffee and take a step outside. Taking small breaks is crucial to not burning out.
  5. Leave Work
    We can only be productive for so long. Use those hours wisely and effectively. There is no point spending two hours to finish something when your brain-dead at 9:00pm at night versus taking 30 minutes to complete it at 8am. 

Productivity has always been something that you have had to manage. Now, due to working at home, your life structure may have been thrown a curveball, but this doesn’t have to be a negative experience. By actively managing yourself in your new work environment you can continue to perform and manage your well-being.

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