With the rise of digital technology and the overarching impact of the pandemic, more and more companies are experimenting with remote working. It is a great way to add flexibility to your schedule, and 77% of remote workers say they’re more productive when working from home. But it can also be tough sometimes. There are so many distractions that can pull you away from your work, and it’s easy to get sidetracked. In this article, we will give you a number of tips to minimize distractions and stay productive while working remotely.
#1: Set up a Specific Work Schedule
Creating a predictable schedule is essential to maintaining productivity. It ensures you build a routine, get enough work done during the day, and do more in less time when your work schedule is more flexible. It can be easy to let distractions get the better of you. Here are a few tips for staying focused while working remotely:
- Make a daily task list of priorities and stick to it. Don’t get bogged down in less significant tasks when there are larger issues to focus on.
- It can also be helpful to set goals for each day or week. It gives you something to work towards and keep motivated. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable so you don’t get discouraged.
- Set a timer and work for a fixed amount of time before taking a break. It helps you to focus and not get distracted by other things. A study from Michigan State University shows that even a single mobile phone vibration can lead to a sharp decrease in productivity.
- Set deadlines and ensure you meet them.
- Avoid working in isolation for long periods. Schedule regular check-ins with your supervisor or team members, join a professional networking group, or take advantage of social media tools to stay connected.
#2: Create a Designated Workspace
Another step towards minimizing distractions is to establish a specific area in your home as your office. It doesn’t have to be an entire room – it can just be a corner of the dining room or the kitchen table. Shifting into a specific space to work each day signals to your brain that it’s time to get down to business. It helps create a physical and psychological boundary between work and the rest of your life. Keep in mind a few other things:
- If possible, try to avoid working in places of rest like the bedroom or dining room so that you can mentally disconnect from work at the end of the day.
- Find a quiet place to focus. If that’s not possible, try using noise-canceling headphones.
- Install a comfortable and ergonomic setup. Make sure your workspace is well-lit and ventilated, invest in good quality equipment, and keep it tidy and free of distractions.
#3: Make Sure Your Breaks Are Short and Productive
It’s important to relax at intervals throughout the day, even if you’re working remotely. Take a short break every few hours to recharge and refocus. Step away from the computer screen and take a few minutes to walk around. Clear your head and come back to work refreshed and ready to perform. A Leeds Beckett University study shows that regular exercise also improves time management and productivity and provides other benefits.
Try setting an alarm or using a timer to break up your day into manageable chunks of time. Work for set periods of time and then take breaks accordingly. This helps you to stay on task and avoid getting overwhelmed.
If you work at odd hours or on weekends, try to take some personal time during the week to compensate. It helps maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout.
#4: Avoiding Working When You’re Tired or Hungry
Try to work during the times when you feel most alert and energized. One of the most common productivity killers is working when tired or hungry. When your energy levels are low, it’s very easy to make mistakes and get distracted when the only thoughts are about how tired you are. The same goes for working when you’re hungry – it’s hard to focus when your stomach is growling. If you struggle to concentrate, take a break and have a snack or cup of coffee. Once you feel more energized, you’re able to work better.
#5: Use Technology to Your Advantage
There are many potential distractions to avoid during the work day, such as, for example, social media, email, or internet browsing. Technology has come a long way in the past few years, and there are now countless tools that can help you be more productive. By using technology to your advantage, you can do more in less time. Here are a few tips on how technology can help boost productivity:
- Time-tracking apps are a great way to use your time more efficiently. By tracking the amount of time you spend on different tasks, you can get a better idea of which activities are taking up the most time. This information helps you to figure out where to make changes so that you can become more focused.
- Scheduling tools can help you make the most of your time. By setting deadlines and reminders, ensure you’re always working on the most important tasks. These tools can also help avoid procrastination by keeping you accountable for your goals.
- Cloud storage services are designed to keep all the necessary information organized and accessible from anywhere. Having all the work stored in one place can help you stay on track and avoid drowning in a sea of files.
- Set notifications on your phone or computer to get reminders of upcoming deadlines. This way, you won’t forget about anything important.
- Screen recording software is an excellent option if you want to avoid writing long explanatory threads to colleagues. Use it to quickly and easily record tutorials, capture webinars or share online events.
#6: Limit the Time You Spend on Non-Work Communication
Devoting a limited time to non-work communication and tasks is crucial for anyone working remotely, but it can be difficult to set those limits. ‘Today is working from home day, so I’ll get the laundry out of the way quickly’ or ‘the boss isn’t here, so I’ll just check my personal email for a few minutes’ are thoughts that can quickly sap your productivity. If you find yourself thinking like this, take a step back and remind yourself of your goals for the day.
While it’s fine to stay in touch with your team, too much time spent catching up can actually lead to distractions. Try to limit non-work communication to specific times and stick to those times. If possible, turn off notifications for personal communication during the times you need to focus. That way, you won’t be tempted to check every new message that pops up.
Another way to limit distractions is to set “quiet hours”. Let everyone know that during these times, you aren’t available for non-urgent conversations. This can help create boundaries between work and personal time, which can be especially important when working from home.
#7: Use Tried and Tested Time Management Techniques
There are a lot of great time management techniques that can help stay focused while working remotely. Try the Pomodoro Technique to both be productive and release stress. It involves prioritizing all the tasks, breaking down work into smaller chunks, and taking short breaks in between. After every 4th Pomodoro, take a long break of 15 to 30 minutes.
The Eisenhower Matrix is another time management technique that helps prioritize doing the essential stuff and not waste time on the unnecessary. It is appropriate for anyone wanting to deal with personal and work time and learn how to stay in a flow state. The matrix consists of four squares: urgent and important, not urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent and not important.
Track what tasks you perform and how long they take. Then ask each of these questions:
1. Was the task urgent for me?
2. Was it essential to me?
3. Am I the only one who could do this?
When you distribute the tasks into blocks, look at which square has the most of them. Deal with each square at once. Read more information about Eisenhower Matrix and how to use it here.
There are many possibilities for staying focused while working remotely. By using these tips, you can avoid distractions, better manage your time, and be more productive. Try different techniques to see which one works best for you and stick with it. From there on, it’s simply a matter of getting down to business and making the most of your time!