More businesses than ever are exploring new ways to work, with remote working becoming an increasingly popular option. Despite the many positives associated with working from home it doesn’t come without its challenges, particularly for those who have never done it before. However, with the right tools and practices, you can ace it like a pro.
Here are some useful tips and tools to help keep you focused, on track, and to maximize your productivity.
1. Create a Morning Routine
Your day doesn’t truly start until you get out of bed. For some this could be a challenge, especially if you’re still adjusting to the work from home setup. After all, what’s really stopping you from working in bed, right?
However, if you want to do this right, distancing yourself from your comfort pad may be the best option for you. After waking up, kickstart your day by exercising or even checking the news. For remote working to be a success, it is important to have a schedule you can follow every day.
2. Maintain Regular Hours
Another way to master the art of remote working is by treating it like any other workday. Take the time to make note of your usual morning routine and replicate it at home. When the clock hits 9am, make sure to do the same things you do at your office – grab a coffee, talk to your colleagues virtually, and eat breakfast at the same time.
Once you get used to observing your patterns and replicating them at home, it will be easier to adapt to your new work environment.
3. Track your to-do lists
Just like any other day in the office, you still need to get your priorities straight. Arguably, this is even more important when working from home, so make sure you put in the extra effort to stay disciplined.
Thankfully, there are several project management tools that you could use to keep tabs of your activities. One of the most popular tools is Trello.
It features a simple and straightforward interface that is easy to navigate. It’s also easier to classify the steps you need to take with the help of features such as Trello boards. If you want to familiarize yourself with it, you can choose from a variety of Trello board templates to get you started.
4. Stay organized with your team
You might also look into Asana, another task and project management tool. Similar to Trello, Asana also allows its users to plan and manage their jobs efficiently. They also offer cross-team collaboration, so you don’t have to worry about the duplication of tasks. If you want to verify something, you can easily see what other people are working on.
5. Use technology to stay connected
Any strong team cites communication as one of the critical factors in their success. Working from home shouldn’t pose a threat to effective collaboration. Even when you’re apart, you can still clearly communicate with your teammates through the use of technology. After all, you can always connect with them through video calls, teleconferencing, or even through chats.
For long discussions, you can meet through Google Hangouts Meet or Zoom. Both platforms are available on desktop and mobile, and it runs on Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows.
The most important thing to consider here is the accessibility of your team members. Which platform is easier for them to use? Choose one together with your team so that you can regularly keep in touch with each other.
6. Stay focused
Working from home can test your patience. Depending on your work setup at home, you may find yourself surrounded by distractions. Not only does this include physical distractions around you but also the online temptations of social media. With unlimited access to the Internet and no one to supervise you, it’s easy to fall down the virtual rabbit hole.
To combat this urge, you can try using Self Control. As its name suggests, it helps you stay focused on your work by blocking specific sites for a desired period. If you find yourself regularly browsing Facebook to kill time, then you might want to consider using this. However, it should be noted that this is only available for macOS users.
7. Set up your own workstation
In line with the previous tip, it’s important to invest in a good workspace. Assess the space in your home and select a spot that is conducive to working. Make sure it’s bright, well-ventilated, and free from distractions. Setting a clear boundary between your personal life and your work life is imperative, and creating a dedicated workspace is an excellent first step.
8. Create an eating plan
No matter how engrossed you are in your work, you still need to eat healthily. Although a reliance on instant food and takeout during quarantine can be tempting, it’s important to take the time to prepare some nutritious meals of your own. However, this can be easier said than done if you find yourself lacking time, money, or both.
If possible, take the time to create a weekly meal plan so you’re always stocked up on nutritious meals. Not only are healthy foods beneficial for your body but they’re great for your mind too, meaning you’re likely to see your productivity, and creativity, increase during your work hours.
Don’t just spin around in circles and treat it as exercise. Although we’re having to spend significant amounts of time indoors, sometimes with a limited amount of space, it doesn’t mean that our physical health should suffer. It also doesn’t mean that we should be stuck for workout inspiration either.
Test out some fitness apps like Peloton or the Nike Training Club to keep you moving; these mobile apps have guides and leaderboards that can motivate you to exercise – even one 15-minute workout a day can make a huge difference.
10. Try podcasts
While exercising, why not listen to a podcast? Whatever the topic, podcasts can help foster a sense of normality and decrease loneliness. Some of the popular podcasts you can check out are The Daily, Who? Weekly, and Lovett or Leave It.
11. Brainstorm with ease
Don’t let your good ideas go to waste just because you didn’t make note of them. You don’t even have to write them down, why not try illustrating using whiteboards instead? If you don’t have one to hand, try an online app such as Drawpile or Mural.ly to map your ideas with ease. Why not invite your teammates in on the action too?
12. Play some music
Getting tired of your usual work from home routine? Why not play some music to improve your mood? You can even match music to the task you’re working on. There are plenty of genres to choose from, and it can help boost your productivity too. Try listening to Spotify or exploring YouTube, you might even discover some new music while you’re at it.
13. Track your productivity
If you want to monitor your productivity, you can do so by using productivity trackers like Rescuetime. Analyze your work habits by allowing Rescuetime to track the time you spend on tasks and block distractions.
14. Attend webinars
If these productivity hacks aren’t working for you, why not learn from others? There are plenty of webinars available online covering various topics, these don’t even have to be work-related.
Several organizations are hosting free webinars that you can access once you’re registered. Take a browse through your social media; the chances are you’ll stumble across a page or two offering various webinars targeted to your needs.
15. Learn from others
For work collaborations, check out 360Learning, an online learning platform you can use with your teammates. 360Learning allows you to create a course and explore different tools on knowledge sharing using the platform. If you have a knack for instructional design and interactive content, why not give it a shot?
If your team has the budget, you can also opt for Learning Management Software (LMS), a great business continuity strategy for your organization. It’s also useful for training new employees and conducting e-learning. LMS functions are applicable even after quarantine, as the platform can still be used as a learning hub for your employees.
16. Manage team spending
Even though we’re working from home, the movement of money through your office never stops. Spendesk is a tool you can use to manage your spending, and every team member can access the funds when necessary, giving you the option to control who can view and edit your information.
17. Be conscious of the time
If you’re working for an international organization or have clients from across the globe, you need to consider the time difference. Thankfully, you can easily check the time through apps like There.pm and World Time Buddy.
As well as eliminating confusion over time zones, these platforms are also more efficient than Google, eradicating the need to consistently cross-reference every country or area you want to check on.
18. Share documents seamlessly
Even before any lockdown or quarantine was issued, your team was likely using cloud computing. If not, then this is an excellent time to start. There are several cloud services that you can use to manage your files such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
19. Keep tabs with each other
As a team, it’s important to keep in contact and luckily, there are several engagement points at your disposal. If your group chats become monotonous, why not try sending a short survey once in a while?
You can do this with TINYpulse, an email service that can gauge your team members’ wellbeing whilst allowing them to submit their answers anonymously. This is a great way to check in on the mental health of your colleagues, even asking a short “describe your mood today” question can go a long way. TINYpulse can also be used to gather other data for other operations too.
20. Take a breather with your colleagues
Working from home limits your interactions with your colleagues. In the office, you could easily talk to them over a snack or a lunch break. This time however, your communication can be limited to work topics only. If you’re missing wider socialization, why not enjoy some fun activities together?
Hotjar features several team-building activities that you and your team can enjoy remotely. You may not see each other physically but connecting outside of work can bring a different form of satisfaction and a semblance of peace too.
21. Take clear breaks
It’s important to avoid drowning in your own tasks. Although some people reportedly have increased productivity when working from home, it’s important to take breaks from time to time. Try using TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows, this software can help automate your schedule and allocate break times – a useful tool if you tend to get lost in your work and forget to take time for yourself.
22. Make time for real friends
Your work from home setup should also involve talking with your friends outside of the office. After all, your life shouldn’t revolve purely around work. This is also an excellent way to strike a balance between your work life and your personal life, giving you room to enjoy wider socialization and appreciate your personal time more.
If you’re living with your family, you’re likely to have a stronger advantage here. Why not try watching a few movies or cooking together? Even cleaning can be enjoyable when you have a companion by your side.
If you’re away from your family and friends, why not try some online activities? Netflix Party, an online browser add-on, has been gaining popularity in recent times. Netflix Party allows you to chat with your friends and family whilst streaming, enabling you to enjoy a movie night together even when you’re apart
23. Do mental health checks
If binge-watching movies or TV shows is failing to distract you from work, then maybe you need a change of pace. Try apps like Calm and Headspace where you can learn how to meditate. These apps also have several guides to help show you the ropes and ease you into mindfulness practices. If you need a sense of calm during these trying times, these may be useful to you.
24. Don’t forget to rest
It goes without saying that we all need to be getting plenty of rest. Although remote working may not be as physically taxing as going to the office, working from home is still tough and can take a toll on your emotional and physical well-being.
Once you have established a routine, make sure to leave some time to rest. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you can download apps like Relax Melodies and Recolor. These apps can help ease your mind and reduce insomnia.
25. Set clear boundaries
Even before lockdown, there were already many companies practicing remote working setups. Setting clear boundaries has always been one of the first big tips on their list. For some, working from home is an everyday struggle and it can easily become a never-ending cycle that can eventually lead to a burnout.
To avoid this, it’s important to establish clear boundaries. Find some semblance of normalcy even in the smallest details. Achieving a work-life balance can be an even bigger challenge if you’re using a work from home setup, but by implementing the right tips and tricks and prioritizing your health, it can be done.