I have put together eight helpful tips for working efficiently from home. It’s an essential topic because more and more people are working remotely.

According to a study by FlexJobs, there was a 159% increase in remote work between 2005 and 2017. Although the trend is developing slowly in Poland, recent global events such as the Coronavirus pandemic, homeschooling, and remote work may significantly accelerate it in the coming years. Nowadays, many companies, both big and small, offer their employees the option to work from home a few days a month.

While remote work may not be suitable for everyone due to its constraints, it can serve as a viable option for certain industries such as marketing, sales, IT, and education.

So how to work efficiently from home?

1. Schedule tasks the day before

Working from home can be challenging due to the many distractions that can arise, such as the temptation to watch another episode of your favorite Netflix series, play a computer game, or indulge in food from your well-stocked refrigerator. To stay focused and productive, it’s important to plan out your tasks in advance and stick to a schedule. You can create a to-do list in your notepad or use a software application like Todoist, Asana, Trello, Microsoft Planner, or Google Keep to create a kanban board. Personally, I find it helpful to combine both methods by having general tasks on my computer screen and detailed points and subpoints on a sheet of paper.

When creating your to-do list, make sure that your tasks are SMART. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you are making progress toward your goals. While you can make adjustments to your tasks throughout the day, having a draft of your to-do list will help you stay organized and focused. With proper planning and discipline, working from home can be just as productive and rewarding as working in a traditional office setting.

S.M.A.R.T. (or SMART) goals:

  • Specific – well-defined, clear, and unambiguous; specifically define what you expect done/delivered.
  • Measurable – define specific criteria for measuring progress toward accomplishing each established goal.
  • Achievable – requires you to stretch but is not impossible to achieve.
  • Relevant – the goal is related to the department’s mission and/or a specific project or program.
  • Timely – the time frame is clearly defined or progress toward achievement is tracked at regular intervals

Another important thing – set priorities for tasks.

2. Give time to work, break, and rest

To effectively manage your time when working from home, it’s important to schedule specific work intervals, breaks, and longer rests throughout your day. For example, you could work from 10-12, take a 5 or 15-minute break after each hour, and have longer breaks from 12-13 and 16-17. This approach can be particularly helpful because completing tasks can cause a surge of endorphins that may make you want to take an extended break rather than a brief one, which can derail your productivity.

By planning your work intervals and breaks in advance, you can avoid the temptation to take long, unplanned breaks and ensure that you are staying on track. It’s important to prioritize your tasks and give yourself enough time to complete them within your scheduled work intervals. This will help you maintain a consistent level of productivity throughout the day and make the most of your time working from home.

3. Night owl or early bird?

As an early bird, my work rhythm is most productive in the morning, so I like to tackle the most challenging tasks that require a lot of attention and creativity at the start of the day. While this approach may not work for everyone, it has been effective for me.

However, if you’re a night owl, you may find that your productivity is at its peak during the late hours. Working from home provides the flexibility to adjust your working hours to your natural rhythm, allowing you to work when you are most efficient.

Whether you prefer early mornings or late nights, finding a schedule that aligns with your body’s natural rhythm can help you stay focused and productive while working from home.

4. Use instant messaging

If your work involves interacting with colleagues, customers, partners, or other stakeholders, it’s important to plan how you will communicate with them in advance. If you’re already using a communication platform like Skype, Slack, or Teams, that’s fantastic. However, if you’re not already using one, I would recommend checking out Slack as a great option.

Slack is a versatile communication tool that allows you to organize your conversations with multiple people and quickly troubleshoot any issues that may arise. By getting familiar with this platform, you can streamline your communication and collaboration with others while working remotely.

5. Agree on your work with your household members

If you don’t live alone, it’s a good idea to let your family or roommates know that you will be working from home on a particular day and during specific hours. This can help to minimize distractions and interruptions while you are trying to focus on work. Additionally, you can use breaks throughout the day to take care of household chores or other tasks that may need attention. By combining these activities, you can ensure that you are staying productive while also taking care of your home and personal responsibilities.

6. Create working conditions (very important)

To improve productivity while working from home, it’s a good idea to create a designated workspace that is separate from other areas of your home. This space should include a desk, chair, and computer, and ideally should be located away from any potential distractions or disruptions caused by household members. Additionally, some people find it helpful to dress in work-appropriate attire instead of staying in pajamas all day, as this can help to set a more professional and focused mindset.

By creating a dedicated workspace and separating it from the rest of your living area, you can create a physical boundary that signals to your brain that it’s time to focus on work. This can help to minimize distractions and improve your ability to stay on task while working from home.

7. Go outside

Take care of the comfort of work and if you have the opportunity, go out for a short walk, take the dog or go to the local store for something good.

8. Save files to the cloud

If you work from home, it’s important to have a system in place for securely accessing your materials. While you could simply email everything to yourself, and save files to a USB drive, this can quickly lead to chaos and confusion. With multiple versions of files and different modification dates, it’s easy to lose track of what’s current and what’s not.

To avoid this problem, consider using a cloud-based storage service like Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox. These services allow you to sync folders between your computer and the cloud, giving you access to your files from anywhere in the world. By setting up this system, you can rest assured that your materials are safe, secure, and easily accessible whenever you need them.

Thank you for taking the time to read these tips!

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