Working from home was only a concept for people from years back. And by years back, we mean, at a time with no internet. Previously, those that had the luxury of working from home were either entrepreneurs, or full-time tutors, and the like.
Right now, with high speed internet and virtually infinite online jobs available, people have taken upon themselves to get off the 9-to-5 train and build their own careers in the comforts of their home.
However, it’s not as cozy as you think.
If anything, it’s actually a challenge to be productive when you’re in the comforts of your home. Take out the image that it’s all about someone just sipping their coffee while laying on the couch in their pajamas— although this happens sometimes, too, not gonna lie.
Truth is, it takes a lot of discipline to stick to an effective work routine and be productive when working remotely. Add to that the lack of motivating energy of working with a team right there with you, so it can get really lonely, and it gets easy for you to slide down the path of being unaccountable and lazy.
So, how does one maximize productivity when working online? Read on.
1. Set up your remote workspace
Whether you’re working from home or while traveling, you need to set a place to work where you know there’s less distractions and you can focus for hours on end.
Work in a separate room from the rest of your household. If you can’t totally separate yourself, just you set a corner in your home where you can set up your computer and designate that your “office.”
“Work wherever and whenever you want, but get your work done.”Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek
2. Work smart, not hard
Go after the most important tasks (MIT) first. List them down ideally the night before, and choose one up to three MITs you need to get done before the end of the day.
You can even set up a time on when you need to finish them, so you won’t have to keep working even after your scheduled eight hours of work. Setting self-imposed deadlines should help improve your focus.
“Less is not laziness. Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.”Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek
3. Build a routine
Now that you have a system on how to work smarter, the next step is to build a routine and habit so starting the day won’t feel like a struggle in the coming workdays.
Start building momentum by following through with your plans for the day, such as the following example:
- Work out at 7AM
- Take a shower
- Finish first MIT before 12 noon
- Lunch and coffee break for an hour
- Power through the second MIT until 4PM
- Finish the rest of your tasks before 6PM
- Sleep before 11PM
Your sleep and work schedule can vary depending on your body clock and work hours, of course. But know that getting enough sleep and rest can have an impact on your productivity.
A well-established routine will train your brain and body to get to work. For you to adapt to a routine, you need to start creating small wins that make you feel good. These rewards will then set up the habits for building your very own routine.
“This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: the habit loop.”Charles Duhigg, The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
4. Follow through with your routine
Sure, there will be days when it’s hard to follow your already set routine. The internet is slow despite all follow ups with your provider, your kid is being extra clingy today, or a pet is sick—these are all valid ways that can disrupt your flow beyond your control. Just make sure you know the difference between reasons and excuses and take control of the things you can.
“The difference between blaming an excuse or a reason, is that the reason is something completely out of your control.”Jocko Willinck, author of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
5. Set a cutoff time
One of the downsides of working remotely is not knowing when to stop. Sure, you’re very productive, but this isn’t the definition of maximizing productivity when you are overworking and losing sleep. The next day, you will tend to feel tired and sleepy—and this is where you will easily lose momentum.
Knowing when to stop working is very important. Unless you urgent deadlines to meet, set your own cut-off time to work, and always value sleep to rest and recharge. This will help you keep the same level of energy and productivity for the whole week.
“It’s also our collective delusion that overwork and burnout are the price we must pay in order to succeed.”Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a ime
6. Sleep is an MIT
You don’t need to hear more successful people and experts preach about how important getting enough sleep is. You just need to do your own research, set a wind-down routine at night, and see for yourself how having enough sleep works wonders not just in your productivity, but overall health as well.
It’s not as simple as going to bed on time, though. Sometimes you need to make some drastic lifestyle changes like giving up your 5PM coffee or energy drink habit, or starting to work out.
“People often tell me that they do not have enough time to sleep because they have so much work to do. Without wanting to be combative in any way whatsoever, I respond by informing them that perhaps the reason they still have so much to do at the end of the day is precisely because they do not get enough sleep at night.”Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams