Welcome to our “Work From Home Q&A” series. You ask a question about remote work, and a guest expert answers it.
You can learn how to ask a question of your own below.
This week’s question comes from Jody:
“How can I stay sane and maximize productivity when working from home? I need to get things done and without all of the distractions!”
6 keys to productive remote work
Working remotely can feel like a more free way to work because your day is more in your control. However, that means it’s up to you to stay focused and work well independently, away from the watchful eye of a manager in the office.
Here are the key things to keep in mind to help you maximize your productivity:
- Have fairly standard work hours and work in the same place every day. That way, your mind will get in the rhythm of you “going to work” each day, even though you’re not leaving your house.
- Know your priorities for every day and every week. You may need to talk with your manager to truly understand your priorities and your manager’s expectations. Once you get clear on those, you’ll be better able to plan your days and stay productive.
- Find an organizational system and task list that works for you. There are lots of systems to boost productivity, so choose one that really resonates with you. Some of the most popular are the Pomodoro Technique, Don’t Break the Chain and Getting Things Done. But a simple list of your top three must-do items for each day can work well.
- Know when your energy is highest. If you can plan to tackle your biggest or most pressing tasks when you have maximum energy, you’ll be a lot more productive.
- Do the hardest task first. You may feel inclined to jump into easy tasks when you first get to your desk, like responding to emails or scanning industry news feeds. Look at your task list and choose the most challenging or important work task to knock out first, before reading messages, making calls or other distracting actions that can keep you from reaching your big goals or really accomplishing anything.
- Set very clear boundaries to avoid the things that tempt you most. For some people, it’s a strict “no TV until after work hours” rule. Others won’t allow themselves to do laundry during work time. By avoiding the biggest distractions in your house, you’ll lower your chances of getting completely sidetracked during the day.
I am a career development manager and coach at FlexJobs, where I help people find flexible work, including remote, part-time and freelance jobs. Before joining FlexJobs in 2010, I was a career adviser for college students and alumni. I have a master of science degree in human resources management and am a certified advanced resume writer.
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You also can find all past answers from this series on the “Work From Home Q&A” webpage.