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  • Writer's pictureManish Nepal

5 WFH Productivity Tips To Fight Couch Slouching For Remote Professionals

WFH productivity

Vegans vs. meat-eaters. CrossFit vs. gym. Buying vs. renting. They are all passé now.

With the fear of a global virus scare looming over us, there is a new kind of lifestyle discourse that is dividing the world.

Welcome to the new utilitarian world. In one corner, we have the good old office commute. On the other side, we have a new hero in a cape — work from home.

Although it’s a bit early to celebrate the success of work from home (WFH) as the new corporate perk, experts such as Stanford University’s economics professor Nicholas Bloom have been hailing its popularity for the past couple of years.

Statistics tip in favor of work from home — WFH professionals are happier, 13% more productive, and 50% less likely to quit their job in comparison to their office commuting counterparts.

But it would be a gross mistake to claim that working from home is more productive by default. If you are new to working from home, you have to invest some bit of thinking and planning to stay on top of your productivity metrics.

Below, I have compiled a list of five practical tips on how to make working from home more productive for you.

Set Up Your Home Office

Sounds kind of a let-down, isn’t it? Most of us think that the whole point of working from home is to not have an office-like environment. After all, curling up in your comfy couch for hours at length and dozing off in your balcony hammock are supposed to the perks of working from home. Right?

Not necessarily, say experts.

Designating a dedicated workstation is important to demarcate your work space from personal space, eliminate distractions, and improve your focus. Does this happen to you often: you enter a room and forget why you were there?

If you can relate to this, you are not alone. It’s called the Doorway Effect, which says that our sense of spatial surroundings has a psychological impact on how we remember things and carry out certain tasks. Mixing up one space for several tasks, therefore, has scientifically-backed disadvantages.

Besides losing your laptop in under pile of clothes or spilling coffee over your keyboard when you work from your dining table, there are more grave perils of plopping into your sofa for work or attending a video conference from the loo.

But you don’t have to break your bank to set up a home workstation. Just place a desk and a comfortable chair in one corner of your house as your work area, make sure you have good lighting, and don’t bring your personal matters to the work zone. Voila! You have created a magic portal that teleports you to your own private work pod.

Create A Daily To-Do List

How do you eat an elephant? Preparing a to-do list of your tasks is the answer to the question — one bite at a time. Regardless of what’s the nature of your job — a coder, a customer support ninja, or an aerospace research scientist — everyone can benefit by creating a daily plan of action.

Research shows that you are more likely to complete 50% of to-do items within a day if you write them down. Making a to-do list helps you set daily micro-goals and break them down into smaller, manageable chunks. Checking things off of your list every day is also a great self-validation of measuring your daily success.

You don’t buy a fancy app to do this; just jot down all tasks you want to accomplish on a post-it note and stick it in front of you. However, if you are digitally-inclined to find an efficient app — be ready to be spoilt for choices. You have a range of buffet items to pick from such as:

Google Tasks

  • Wunderlist

  • iDoneThis

  • Evernote

  • Todoist

  • Trello

...what have you.

Focus On Doing Deep Work

Do you know why you were perpetually distracted at work? According to a 2016 survey, it might be because of these distractions:

distractions at work

But it doesn’t mean you are completely immune to environmental distractions when you are working from home. For instance, smartphones and social media are slippery slopes that you are likely to slide into when working from home.

Here are a few ways to ward off distractions: keep your non-essential gadgets away from you, turn off all notifications except for calendar reminders, and be proactive about digital consumption habits instead of reacting to everything online content that pops up in your screen.

In his critically acclaimed book Deep Work, author Cal Newport suggests that we should manage distractions instead of trying to fight them back. Newport recommends “batching” as a technique to do so — carve out time to check your smartphone, app notifications, and emails.

Once you tame your distractions, you will find yourself in the elite league of productive wizards who go deep into the creative muse and bring the best out of them.

Plan Every Day In Advance

Productivity is not a one-day affair. To master productivity, you need to build self-discipline that repeats itself like clockwork.

You can borrow a technique that habit-forming experts suggest for people who struggle to jump out of their bed every morning and go gymming or running. The trick is simple: have your workout clothes and shoes ready the night before so that it’s easier for you to change into them and get out of the door without any resistance.

It’s a tactic to help you get over the friction that we tend to make up in our minds. Here is how it looks like for your work from home productivity goals:

  • Identify the low- and high-impact priorities in your carry-over to-do list

  • Move up the items in your list that demand your immediate action

  • Phrase each of your to-do tasks in as elaborate words as possible

  • Draft a quick email or write an idea down that you want to pursue the next day

Remember, wars are won in the General’s tent. Execution is easy when you have planned your strategy. Laying out the tasks that you need to tackle the next day helps you declutter your mental space so that you have a free thinking space to be more focused on your daily goals.

Log Off From Work When Work Is Done

Technology has already blurred the line between work and life to a great extent. Your work email, for example, reaches you in the red light, in the queue at your favorite taco joint, and even when you are thumbing through your news feed answering Nature’s call on the john — all thanks to the glory of the mobile email apps.

It’s insanely unproductive to let your work encroach other aspects of your life. Part of being professional is toeing the line between your work and life. Make sure you understand this and shut down your work-related activities at a specific time every day. Don’t fall into the trap of being available round-the-clock — you will burn yourself out sooner than you realize.

Instead, have something to look forward to at the end of every day. Listen to your favorite podcasts, work out in the gym, go for a jog by the promenade, or play with your pet in the park. Make room for physical activity like walking in nature so that your body gets some exercise which will, in turn, keep you fit and contribute to your productivity.


Prioritize WFH Productivity

Working from home is great because it makes your work revolve around your life and not the other way around. Be smart about your work from home privileges and design a productive routine to squeeze the most out of your work hours.

The tips mentioned in this blog might seem like small adjustments to your work from home routine, but when you do them day in and day out it will help you become the most productive version of yourself. Practicing productivity is just like the Pareto Principle — 80% of your outcomes are a result of 20% of your efforts.

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