Working from home is great, but sometimes it can feel like there are far too many distractions that keep us from getting work done.
We all know how easy it is to get sidetracked by our phone or TV when we should be working on something else.
And yes, working from home can be a dream come true for many people, but it also has its challenges.
One of the biggest challenges? Maintaining productivity and efficiency.
But don’t worry!
In this post, we’ll give you some ideas for increasing your efficiency and getting more done in less time while working at home!
Working From Home During Pandemic
Telecommuting isn’t something new.
It was proposed for the first time in 1973 in order to address the energy crisis and transportation problems. Then, starting in 2010 and onwards, plenty of remote-only businesses showed up.
Since the gig economy in the workplace has exploded in recent years, freelancers were able to work and travel at the same time all over the world without being constrained.
The COVID-19 work from home (WFH) situation, on the other hand, is not the same as the distributed workforce systems or remote work culture that were promoted prior to 2020.
Several case studies showed improved efficiency during the pandemic, but at what cost, and is that sustainable in the long run?
I’m reluctant to make any firm conclusions regarding the long-term value of working from home at this time.
Working from home can be beneficial in the long run.
Still, the global pandemic and the large number of people working from home under unusual circumstances do not provide the ideal conditions for evidence-based decision-making that some suggest.
The differences between now and normal are just too significant.
How Will Working From Home Evolve After the Pandemic?
We’ve seen companies talking about working from home as business disruption and feeling the need to get back to the way things were before as soon as possible after this crisis.
Then there’s the other party. These are business leaders who understand that the work-from-home reality isn’t going anywhere and that we need to create a culture to support it.
Even so, these leaders believe that in-person meet-ups, workspaces, and other opportunities for better collaboration and team building are needed.
There has been an increasing number of people who started working from home around March 2020.
Organizations and individuals didn’t have time to plan for remote work or consider how to adapt teams, processes, and culture to an online-only environment.
If you’re new to working from home, whether because of the coronavirus or you’ve found a remote-based job, you might have discovered that you need to change your habits and routines to be more efficient.
We all face different challenges, not just because of our different personalities but also because of our different lifestyles and types of work. Despite this, many of the problems we face as remote employees are identical.
Working from home requires figuring out when to work, where to work, and when to draw the line between work and personal life.
What about office equipment, professional growth, training opportunities, and forming bonds with coworkers?
Working remotely, particularly when you work from home the majority of the time, requires resolving these and other issues.
20 Tips on How to Increase Efficiency When Working from Home
Here I want to share with you 20 tips on increasing efficiency and striking a better work-life balance when working from home based on my experience and what I’ve learned over the years.
1. Maintain Regular Hours
Make a schedule and stick to it.
Many remote employees find that having clear guidelines on when to work and when to call it a day helps them maintain a work-life balance.
Since remote work is mostly flexible, you might need to extend your day or start early to meet someone else’s time zone.
If you do, make sure to finish work earlier than normal or sleep in a little the next morning to make up for it.
Automatic time-tracking apps allow you to see if you’re sticking to your schedule. They can also help you find out when you’re most productive and when you’re not. You can take advantage of this information by setting aside the time when you’re most likely to complete the most challenging tasks.
For example, if you’re most productive between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., don’t schedule meetings then.
2. Create a Morning Routine
Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start working at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine in which you regularly do things is quite another.
A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day.
What’s the thing in your morning routine that indicates you are going to start working?
It could be brewing yourself a cup of coffee before getting started on your to-do list. Or, it could be getting dressed or returning home after a jog.
Look for an existing habit that you’ve already formed, like brushing your teeth or coming home after taking the dog for a walk, and use it as your “it’s work time” signal!
I say “morning routine,” but not everyone who works from home follows a nine-to-five schedule, so it’s possible that you will have a different “getting started” routine at a different time of day.
3. Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space
Set ground rules with people you share your space with.
For example, if you have children studying at home or coming home from school when you are still working, they need clear rules on what they can and cannot do during that period.
Or, just because you’re at home and can let service people in or care for pets doesn’t mean that other family members should assume you always will.
4. Schedule Breaks
Establishing a well-structured break routine will help you stay focused throughout the workday and maintain your energy levels.
If you work for a company, they should have a policy on break times, and it is essential to take them.
If you’re self-employed, you can choose when you schedule some time throughout the day to step away from your computer and phone, but make sure that you do it.
5. Make the most of Your Breaks
Taking a break from your work could be just what you need to re-energize!
There are many apps you can use to set a schedule for when you’ll take a break from work.
Are you fed up with all these apps? Just simply set the alarm or a timer on your phone, and you are good to go.
But remember, no matter how you choose to track your breaks, make sure to use them fully. For example, if you plan to take a 60-minute break but get back to work after only 40 minutes, don’t do it. Use that time to go out for a walk instead.
6. Leave Home
Get out of the house and get moving. Your body needs movement, fresh air, natural light – we all do. Ideally, you should spend some time outside before work, during your lunch break (if possible), or after hours to give yourself a little extra boost throughout the day.
To break up the monotony of being at home, you can visit cafes, restaurants, libraries, or co-working spaces. That’s also great! But remember that the most important thing is to get out of the house, get some fresh air and get moving.
Take a walk, weed the garden, or just simply sit on the stoop. You’ll feel a lot better!
7. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for What You Need
If you’re employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as possible.
It’s important to set clear expectations early on about what kind of supplies are needed for optimal performance. These items might include the right monitor, keyboard, mouse, and more.
Companies that are used to having remote workers have a budget set aside for home office equipment. Ask about it, like what it is and how often it is renewed.
It’s also a good idea to ask about any loan agreements in place, as well as who will pay for return shipping and disposal of outdated equipment. Some remote companies encourage workers to bring in a consultant to ensure that their workspaces are ergonomically designed.
If you’re working from home for a short period of time and may need to return to the office soon, ask for what you need but be willing to make reasonable compromises.
Purchasing a new office chair and desk might be out of the question. Instead, a mouse, keyboard, laptop riser, and back-supporting cushion can get the job done for less than $200. There are also other low-cost and easy ways to improve your home office.
8. Keep a Dedicated Office Space
Working from home can be challenging, but it’s important to create a space that is exclusively for your work.
If possible, separate this area from other parts of the house and use it just for working on projects. This will give you some privacy when trying to focus or get things done.
9. Maintain a Separate Phone Number
If you’re trying to get more work done and be more efficient, using a separate phone number for calls with colleagues and clients might help.
This will also help you in managing your work-life balance.
10. Combat miscommunication
Miscommunication and misunderstandings are common when communicating from a distance.
This is partially due to the fact that written communication loses the rich texture of face-to-face communication (such as body language and facial expressions).
If you find yourself offended or annoyed by someone’s message, one thing you should have in mind is that we tend to perceive neutral text messages as unfavorable. But if you are unsure, talk with that person and ask questions to understand intentions and dispel any doubts.
11. Socialize With Colleagues
Loneliness, disconnection, and isolation are all the issues that extroverts tend to face when working remotely.
Companies that have a remote work culture often provide good opportunities for socialization.
For example, they might use a team chat app like Slack to create channels for discussing common interests or arranging meetups for people in the same area.
Determine how much interaction you need to feel included and connected.
Even if you’re an introvert who dislikes social interactions, try a few interactive activities and get a feel for them in case you decide you want them in the future. If you don’t work for an organization with a strong remote culture, you may need to be more proactive when it comes to nurturing relationships.
12. “Show Up” to Meetings and Be Heard
When working remotely, you’ll certainly participate in video conferences and conference calls, but it’s also a good idea to attend optional meetings from time to time.
It is important for remote employees to make an effort during these events by being interactive with others.
This means speaking up, asking questions, and giving input when needed so that those around the virtual table don’t forget you’re there!
13. Get FaceTime
If you want to have a more personal and meaningful relationship with your coworkers, take some initiative by asking for an annual or semi-annual trip in your contract. It could be one of the following: annual planning, training, team building – whatever is applicable!
Set up a video call with your colleagues or manager once a week to check in, and don’t be afraid to keep check-in meetings as short as necessary. Often, all it takes to stay connected is a five-minute conversation.
14. Take Your Sick Days
Take time off when you’re sick. Take advantage of the sick days that are included in the benefits plan.
And I know it’s tempting to work through illnesses if you’re a freelancer or self-employed who doesn’t get paid sick time. But remember that it’s best to take some time off to rest and fully recover for the benefit of your long-term health and productivity before going back to work.
15. Look for Training and Learning Opportunities
When you’re not in the workplace with your coworkers, you might miss out on in-person training and skills growth opportunities. It’s possible that your company may forget to enroll you in one of its online training courses. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, and make sure you’re included.
You can request online or in-person courses, training, and coaching in addition to top-down training. There are also numerous online learning sites that offer courses in business soft skills, programming, software skills, and other areas.
Learning and skill training are often funded by remote companies. If your company doesn’t already have it, ask about adding it.
People who work 100% remotely in non-pandemic times might look for learning opportunities taught at the organization’s headquarters or nearby. This way, you can get both training and face time with your coworkers in one go.
Working remotely requires a high level of communication from everyone.
Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability, and when you finish an important task or a project, say so.
Overcommunicating doesn’t mean you have to compose a five-paragraph essay to explain every step you make, but it does mean you keep repeating yourself. Make a joke about how you’ve probably mentioned your upcoming vacation six times by now, and then say it again.
17. Be Positive
In all remote working environments, creating an appropriate reading tone in written messages is extremely difficult.
When you have less face time with people in person, an intentionally brief message may come across as terse and short-tempered.
Everyone must remain highly positive in remote work environments, even to the extent that it might sound like you’re overly positive or even gushy. Otherwise, you’ll come off as a jerk.
18. Take Advantage of Your Perks
For this one, I’ll just say: Take advantage of the perks that remote work offers.
19. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself or Others
Successful remote employees are known to be extremely disciplined.
After all, it takes serious focus and discipline to do any full-time job from an unconventional space.
However, everyone lets their attention sometimes drift – if you find yourself working for one minute then researching vacation house rentals the next, don’t reprimand yourself too harshly because people in office settings do this very often. Just take a little break and get back to work.
Above all, keep in mind that you should find a balance between productivity and self-care; otherwise, you risk burning out.
20. End Your Day With a Routine
Just as you should start your day with a routine, you should finish it with a routine too.
It could be a business messaging app sign-off, an evening dog walk, or a yoga class at home. It can be as simple as turning off your computer and turning on a favorite podcast.
Whatever you choose, make it a habit to mark the end of the working day.
As I am wrapping up this blog post, I hope you’ve found it useful and helpful! If so, please share this article with friends or colleagues who are also looking for ways to optimize their efficiency.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to working from home.
What works best is a mix of the tips mentioned here combined with some trial and error to find out what works best for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I start working from home?
You should develop skills to be able to apply for remote jobs. Freelance workers are needed all over the world. You may even work for a company that is not based in your own company. In addition to freelance jobs, you can also start your own business by learning about e-commerce, or other opportunities on the internet.
What are the disadvantages of working from home?
People who work from home often complain that they lose their social skills. Apart from losing your social skills, lack of motivation can be an extra disadvantage for those working from home. Also, distractions play an important part in the disadvantages of working from home.
What are the advantages of working from home?
One of the best advantages of working from home is that you don’t have to spend all that time going to work and coming back from work. Working from home, you save time, energy, and money.