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16 ways to boost productivity when working from home

from  November 7, 2022 | 4 min read

In the past 2 years, a huge part of the white-collar workforce has found itself working from home – either permanently or on a hybrid basis. Remote work comes with its own challenges – from the intrusion of personal chores into the workday to the tendency of work matters to spill over into our personal time. While some take to home working like a duck to water, many others find it isolating and struggle to find their flow in the new normal.

How do you learn the art of productivity working from home every day? We’ve compiled some tips to help you understand how to be your most productive self, covering 3 key areas.

  • Where you work
  • How you work
  • Personal wellbeing

Important Note: ’What is productivity?’

Before you embark on any productivity journey, you need to understand what we mean by productivity:

“We’re under the misguided presumption that more work leads to more productivity when the opposite is actually true — chronic stress eats away at any chance for a productive workplace, or high employee engagement. Chronic stress undermines the culture and leads to fatigue, anxiety, and confusion about priorities.'' Dr. Leah Weiss [1]

Working longer doesn’t mean you’re doing more. That’s the biggest misconception about productivity.

Productivity is about achieving more, yes, but productive people don't focus on how many tasks they do, they take the time to do tasks fully, and people benefit from a job well done.

Where you work

Where you work matters. Just because you're at home doesn't change this, it amplifies it. Being at home simplifies things in many ways, for example, your commute's a lot shorter. But in other ways, it makes finding balanced and productive ways of working a little trickier, blurring the lines between work life and home life and adding even more tasks to your day.

Here are a few tips that will help you create a more productive workspace and a more harmonious and productive work/life balance.

Work flexible: Many of us have seen our work patterns change over the past couple of years, and this mass trial for home working has shown us that people who work from home can be more productive.

Carve out a space: Your workspace is much more than a place to put your laptop. Create a 'workspace' that lets you separate your work life from your home life. It's enormously important for your mental wellbeing to 'clock on' AND 'clock off' when WFH. A space doesn't have to be an office, it's whatever you have, whether that's a tray on your lap on the sofa or a kitchen table. But try and keep it distinct when working from how you use that space at any other time. Then try and make it as much like your' workspace' as possible. Have pictures of family, a drink, snacks, etc. all to hand, as these help you stay focused on what you're doing.

Have the right tools: No one can be productive if they can’t work. Make sure you’ve got everything you need - don’t put up with super slow/spotty WiFi or the world’s smallest screen. You need to be able to work mobile in every respect, or you won’t be able to do your job properly, let alone better.

Stay safe: Make sure you’re looking after yourself. This can be safe working environments (watch out for those slips, trips, and falls), but also think beyond those immediate ‘dangers’ and consider everything from if your lighting’s right or that you have a suitable screen, chair, and posture. Even that you’re still having regular eye-tests. Just because you’re at home doesn’t make you immune from these risks.

How you work

Your personal working patterns will need to change when you work from home. As well as working to protect your time to get work done without being distracted by the ins and outs of your homelife, you’ll also need to carefully protect your personal time and space in order to avoid your work spiraling out of control and burning you out.

Plan your day: Don’t simply log on first thing and do ‘stuff,’ just to stack up ‘hours’. Productivity, especially at home, isn’t about the amount of time you work, but how effectively you use the time you have. Instead, stop, get dressed, and then assess what you have on your plate for the day and make a plan. Include meals, breaks, and even exercise and social activities - all are vital to making you more productive overall.

Don’t put it off: It might seem obvious, but tackling your big challenges first is key to productivity. Don’t get other stuff out of the way first. Go for the big tasks when you’re at your freshest and most focused. You’ve then got the rest of the day to tackle the smaller stuff without the stress of a big challenge hanging over you.

To-do less, to do more: Productive people have shorter ‘to-do’ lists,’ not because they do less, but so they can achieve more. They plan their work in manageable amounts and realize they can’t do everything. Then focus on what matters and plan the rest for another time.

Time for a break: Counter to what you might think, regular breaks actually make you more productive. Make time for a snack or a stroll, or even a quick meditation.

Are you really working? Many people have made the mistake of confusing emails and meetings with work. Often, they’re not the same, so don’t waste your focus and energy on them. Learn to identify and prioritize what really needs your time and attention.

Multitasking kills productivity: The key to productivity is focus and time. Concentrating on individual tasks and giving them the time they need. Doing too many things at once lowers productivity and effectiveness.

Manage distractions: Possibly the easiest productivity obstacle to fix, but also the one we usually fix last. And at home, it’s even easier to get distracted. The key is to manage these distractions, not remove them. Plan everything into your day (see ‘plan your day’), yep, even housework, or social media time with friends. It’s not about not doing things - productive people do more things better, that’s the whole point. But don't let them distract you from the task in hand. If you're working, don't be tempted to read your friends’ WhatsApp messages, and if you're doing housework, don't be checking your email.

Personal wellbeing

Productive people look after themselves first and foremost, which shows in the results they achieve. Here are a few tips to get you started on the road to productivity.

Take more time off: Yep, that’s right, taking more holidays will make you more productive. Even if going nowhere makes taking holiday seem pointless, it might be the key to happier, more productive days.

Get out and about: Staying cooped up inside 24/7 will drive you crazy fast, but it will also destroy your productivity. Get out at least once every day. The exercise will do you good, but it’s also about a change of scene, the opportunity to refocus, the Vitamin D and general wellbeing. It’s key to a happier, more productive you.

Eat better, work better: As cliché as it sounds, ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ really works. Productive people don’t work more than other people, they simply work smarter and look after themselves. Again, don’t fall into the trap of thinking hours means the same as work. Hunger, tiredness, bad diet, lack of exercise all impact energy levels, ability to focus, and, ultimately, your productivity.

Make an effort: Rolling out of bed and spending the day in your PJ’s might seem like the easiest option when WFH, but it’s a trap you don’t want to fall into. Create a routine in the morning that helps to energize you and stick to it.

Clock off: It’s important when WFH to separate your work life and your home life. When work is finished, stop working and try to put your workspace/computer out of view. Stepping away helps you come back fresh and ensures a productive mindset when it’s time to work.

About Unit4

Unit4 has been creating enterprise software for people centric organizations for over 40 years. Our tools are designed to create a single operational platform for back office functions with a great user experience, freeing up your people from manual processes and cumbersome administrative workflows so they can focus more on doing their jobs, stay engaged, and provide a higher level of service.

To check out how our ERP, FP&A, HCM, and S2C solutions can help your people create a better working environment even when they’re working from home, click here to set up a demo.

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