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The Alternative Workplace - How to Stay Productive at Home

Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a CX strategist and web designer. Lexie is a contributor to Marketo, Website Magazine and Envato. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, “Design Roast“, or follow her on Twitter “@lexieludesigner

Lexie Lu
25 Jun 2020 • 5 min read

Whether you’re new to remote work or a seasoned pro, you can take steps to maximize your productivity and impress your boss.

Tons of people are currently working from home — and many plan to stay there. If you're new to the remote grind, you may wonder how to get away from distractions. 

It can be hard to get through your to-do list when your kids are playing nearby, your partner is making lunch and the next-door neighbours are blaring their stereo. 

Discover 10 ways to push through the diversions and stay productive with this article:

1. Listen to Nature Sounds

You can't watch your favourite TV show or tune in to a podcast while you work — both are too distracting. However, listening to nature sounds can improve your external focus, promote relaxation and enhance your well-being. 

If you live next to a wooded area or park, use your breaks to walk outside and listen to the wildlife. Can you hear chirping birds, rustling squirrels and leaves fluttering in the wind? If you don't have access to green space, download a nature app. Play sounds of thunderstorms, crashing waves or falling rain.

2. Work When You're Active

Your circadian rhythm dictates when you're tired and when you feel alert. While it may be standard to clock in at 9 a.m. and finish up at 5 p.m., this schedule doesn't work for everyone. Try to work when you feel the most awake, a tactic that will improve your productivity. If you're feeling tired and sluggish, focus on easy tasks, like checking your email and returning phone calls. 

3. Set Up an In-Home Office

It can be hard to get in the work mindset if you're completing tasks from your couch or kitchen table. Ramp up your productivity by setting up a designated office space. Add in decor that will make you smile — like fresh flowers or your favourite artwork — as research shows people flourish when they experience at least three positive emotions for every negative one.

4. Create Workspace Boundaries

It's essential to create boundaries to establish a set work-life balance and maintain your productivity. Going into your work area should be like stepping into the office — ask your family members to knock before they barge in, or set dedicated no-distraction times and post them on your door. Once you clock out, shut down your computer, close off the room and leave everything until the next day.

5. Schedule Regular Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to maintain your productivity, taking breaks is a must. In one study, researchers looked at four groups of people, each of which worked on a brain-intensive task for 50 minutes. The group that took more breaks had the highest mental stamina and focus.

One option is to try the Pomodoro Technique, where you break down tasks into 25-minute chunks. Set a timer, and when it goes off, walk away from your computer and take a break. You can adjust this technique for however long you prefer, whether it's 10 minutes, 30 or 60.

6. Eat Healthy, Energizing Foods

Do you hit the midday slump after you eat lunch? While high-carb foods like pasta and pizza are tasty, they can make you tired. Instead, opt for meals that will boost your energy levels. Eat a serving of salmon or tuna, cook up some protein-packed quinoa and be sure to drink plenty of water.

7. Invest in a Communication Tool

If you need to connect with co-workers or managers regularly, communication is essential. You don't want to wait hours for answers to necessary questions. Ask your employer about available tools, such as video or instant messaging software. You can also use these tools to connect on a personal level with your team. Start a group chat where you talk about your day or share photos of your pets.

8. Tune Out Noisy Distractions 

It can take several minutes to regain your focus if you get distracted from the task at hand. Don't let your productivity take a hit. Instead, turn off noisy notifications on your phone, email and social media pages. You can also block out sounds — such as traffic or your neighbour’s barking dog — with noise-cancelling headphones.

9. Focus on One Task at a Time

Do you bounce from task to task with the notion that you can complete several things at once? While it may seem like you're getting a lot done, studies show that multitasking reduces your productivity. When you jump around your to-dos, your brain takes a few minutes to catch up. The result is lost time you could spend elsewhere. Instead, it's best to focus entirely on one task, finish it and then move onto the next.

10. Start With Your Priority To-Dos

Do you have an item on your to-do list that you dread? Perhaps you hate making cold calls or digging through your email inbox. When you leave these tasks for the end of the day, you spend hours filled with anxiety. Your mind wanders as you consider what's ahead, making it difficult to concentrate. 

If you want to maximize your productivity, get those harder items out of the way first. Once they're off your plate, you'll be worry-free and able to focus on your other work. Plus, everything that comes after will feel easier to accomplish. 

Boost Your Productivity As You Work From Home

Whether you're new to remote work or a seasoned pro, you can take steps to maximize your productivity and impress your boss. Follow the tips above to regain your focus, knock out your to-dos and conquer your work-from-home routine. 

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