Working from home hacks: 11 ways to stay productive

By Felicia Tan / EdgeProp Singapore | March 23, 2020 6:03 PM SGT
Photo: Shutterstock
There are benefits and disadvantages to working from home. You get to spend more time on crucial tasks by saving on commute time, for instance. On the other hand, distractions – such as Netflix – and a lack of focus may prevent you from completing your tasks in a timely manner.
Here are nine tips to prevent yourself from falling into a slump, and eventually suffering from a backlog of tasks you were supposed to complete yesterday.

1. Draw up a routine

It’s just like your list of to-dos, except this comes in time belts. Having a fixed routine or a timetable will help you get settled into work quickly.

2. Set boundaries

If you have family members at home, tell them that you will be working from home during this period of time, and your exact working hours. This will prevent you from getting distracted by running errands for them when you should be focused on work.
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3. Have a clearly demarcated work space

This doesn’t even have to be a room or a home office. You only need to identify a space – preferably with a proper table and chair, and near a strong light source – that works for you.

4. Organise your desk space

If you're anything like me, chances are, you’ll find your desk cluttered with your personal laptop, trinkets, and stacks of paper everywhere. Clear. It. All. Up.
You don’t want to be reminded of the fact that you're working from home, and get distracted by that. You want an empty desk so you can focus on your work at hand.

5. Bring your office home

If you're keenly aware of the fact that you're home, and find yourself getting distracted more easily, recreate your office situation wherever you are. Take some of your work accessories such as your calendar, notebook, and corkboard home, to re-create this space. A mug or a house-plant works too.
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6. Plan your tasks the night before

The night before, make a list of tasks or assignments you need to complete for the next day. This helps you to identify and prioritise And while you’re at it, plan your outfit and lunch the night before too (see next point).

7. Start the day right

Instead of waking up right on the minute and parking yourself in front of your laptop in your pyjamas, get yourself into work mode by freshening up. Change into something presentable. You don’t have to dress up entirely, but putting on an outfit that you can be seen in, changes things.
This is also optional. If you feel sleeping in is better for your productivity as opposed to taking a shower in the morning, by all means, do what works for you best.
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Provide time for breakfast too, as it is arguably the most important meal of the day.

8. Stay away from social media

It is easy to get lost in the abyss that is social media. Once you’re logged in, you’ll find yourself suddenly losing precious hours after scrolling through post after post. Prevent that by minimising screen-time which can be easily set on your phone, or download app blockers that limit your time on certain apps.
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9. Communicate clearly with your team

When you’re working from home, you won’t be able to explain things as clearly to your team or seek clarification from your colleagues. Ensure you remain online, and clear any queries via email, or over a quick call, to prevent any miscommunication.
You can also log in to Zoom or Google Meet to make a video call, especially when the communication involves a group of colleagues and requires quick response and interaction.

10. Take short breaks

Just like at work where you take short toilet and coffee breaks, and return to your desk more productive, the same is true for your home.
Ditto for lunch breaks. Grabbing a sandwich or leftovers from the fridge to eat at your desk may help you save time, it may not help you become more efficient with work. Taking the hour off to actually enjoy your meal – at your dining table – helps. However, if you want to cook, have a meal planned out the night before, so you don’t spend time standing in front of your fridge deciding what to do with the bits and pieces you have in there.

11. Knock off on time

Having a fixed schedule for the day ensures you start on time, and end on time. Working at home also lets you plan your own time; if you feel you are more productive later in the day, allocate the same eight hours to your day, and plan accordingly.
Also, once your hours are over, unless you have work to finish, it’s healthy to draw the line between your home office, and, well, home.
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