In a blog from this past autumn, five advantages of working from home were discussed. If you missed it, you can read it here, but in a reader’s digest version, the benefits include saving time and money, having a flexible schedule, an increase in productivity, and being able to live wherever you want. Remote work is incredibly flexible in some ways, but if you’re new to the work-from-home, you may need some tips to help keep you organized, focused, and on track, all while not overworking. There’s a fine line between working an appropriate amount and going overboard simply because your work laptop is always available if you work from home.
Today, let’s dive in to see how you can implement some smart strategies to help you work from home as an individual contributor, business owner, or entrepreneur. Additionally, these tips will have some helpful apps to use in your remote working days.
Tip One: Stick to a schedule
Did you know that people are likelier to complete work tasks when they work from home? Certain employees find that to be more true than others, with knowledge workers, software developers, and IT professionals citing that they are more productive at home. RescueTime, an app that helps individuals automatically track where they are spending their worktime, mentions that “Remote workers are 20% more likely to say they complete all their daily tasks every or most days.”
To make the most of your workday, stick to a schedule, and consider using applications to help guide your day to stay on track. Some apps that help you get the most out of your schedule include the aforementioned RescueTime, Aloe Bud which is an app that helps remind you to do basic things like stick to your water schedule while working, and Nobze, which is a more encompassing tool for a larger team to help you organize and schedule meetings to complete team tasks and projects.
When developing your work-from-home schedule, it’s imperative that you do so while considering aspects of your home life. If you are required to pick up your kids from school come September every day at 3:15, it is unlikely that you will somehow be able to work 9 to 5 without being interrupted. Create your schedule around your actual lifestyle, not the lifestyle you had when you did not work remotely.
Tip Two: Create a dedicated workspace
This next tip goes hand-in-hand with keeping organized. Have a dedicated workspace. If you are doing your bills at the same desk that you are creating invoices for customers, it’s time to separate the two, even if that means just putting your bills in a separate section while you are working.
A dedicated workspace is ideal for a number of reasons. First, we’ve all heard of the people getting on video conferencing recently that realize very suddenly they can be seen wearing no pants. So, set up your workspace with the idea that the people on the other side of the video can actually see you. Remove any pictures that may be offensive, opt for a place with good natural lighting in your home, and seek out privacy for any calls. Ideally, your calls will be in the same place you work the rest of the day so that you’re not having to get up to move every time you need to attend a meeting.
Staying mentally focused is much easier if the space you have set up is only for working. If you simply do not have the space to allocate towards a home office, make sure you are setting up the area each morning and taking it down each evening: store any work laptops, remove any phone chargers, and so on. If the dining room table is now your work area, set it up each morning, and remove it each night, so that work does not feel like it’s constantly creeping into your home life.
Tip Three: Limit distractions
If you are new to working remotely, you may find you allow yourself to become distracted, leading to procrastination. While keeping a set schedule will help, if you find you are scrolling social media, reading Reddit, and repeatedly checking your email rather than staying on task, install the StayFocusd app, your new accountability buddy. This app increases your productivity by removing the ability to access certain websites you have blacklisted, like FaceBook or Twitter. It only works on Google Chrome, so if you need one for your smartphone, check out any of the multiple apps that do the same thing.
If you have trouble staying focused, consider implementing the Pomodoro Technique in which you focus on one specific task (eg respond to emails, file documents, work on a particular project) for only 25 minutes. Then, you have a three-to-five-minute break that allows you to stretch, get a cup of tea, or use the restroom. Then, you’re back at it. The theory is you can focus for 25 minutes, then allow yourself to deal with any distractions before heading back to your work. This technique is incredibly helpful for someone with ADHD or simply has trouble concentrating since there is a very limited time you are required to focus. After 4 sessions of 25 minutes, you take a longer break to clear your mind. The technique allows you to review your work and realize how much headway you’ve made without even realizing it.
Tips for Business owners for company-wide change: Maintain high levels of organization
If you are a business owner, ultimately how your employees succeed remotely depends largely on the implementation of programs that you put into place for your entire business. If you want to continue seeing high levels of productivity company-wide, make sure you’re providing your employees with appropriate software options.
In an earlier blog, vital documents for your family and how to store them was discussed, and business documents are equally as important. Instead of piling your company’s paper documents higher and higher on your desk, implement document management software so that you’re not searching through piles to find exactly what you’re looking for. Docuware can easily and quickly set up your document management for you to reduce the stress of a disorganized home office. When working remotely, cloud-based management is hands-down the easiest way to be able to access your files from anywhere. If you’re not sure if Docuware is ideal for you, you can set up a free consultation so they can cover any questions you may have about having the system set up for you. Below are some of the advantages of using DocuWare company-wide.
- Capture and store documents. Docuware processes documents from a variety of sources, including scanners and printers.
- Control access and security: Set smart rules to control who has rights to access certain documents — particularly useful for documents of confidential nature
- Index and retrieve. This programs scans documents automatically for retrieval from your employees.
- Share. All documents can be shared safely across systems.
- Collaborate. Docuware allows for your business to work on documents simultaneously without creating multiple versions.
- Integrate. Docuware can integrate with other systems to reduce inefficiencies
Your employees look to you for guidance. If you are struggling with organization yourself, your employees will realize it’s acceptable, which will reduce efficiency and productivity. You can’t blame employees if you’re not leading by example, so make sure to put in procedures and programs to reduce inefficiencies.
More apps for remote work
Are you looking for more ways to improve productivity? If you’re searching for some apps to improve productivity, here are a handful of others that may provide some productivity tips that you can’t wait to use.
- Forest – this app helps you grow a fake (or real tree!) by staying focused on the project at hand. The tree grows while you focus, and stops growing as soon as you begin using your smartphone.
- Seven – if you’re trying out the Pomodora Technique, try using Seven on your longer breaks, an app that shows you seven-minute workouts you can do right by your desk. Everyone needs a stretch throughout the day.
- [email protected] – this app provides personalized focus music to help improve your productivity. The software boasts that on average, a person using [email protected] has a focus increase between 200-400% in comparison to those who don’t use it. That seems a bit of a stretch, but still worth giving it a shot since it offers a free trial.
- EōN – this is another music app but differs in that it is intended to be an art piece for enjoyment while working, so it may not be quite as good for focusing but also non-repetitive.
- If you find your employees are running around with distractions aplenty, there are many apps and software options available, many for free, that can help you organize your workload and day better. Simplish is one option to try out if you feel you need an extra push in the right direction to keep organized.