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How to Increase Productivity at Home and Decrease Distractions

The Flow TeamLast Updated: July 29, 2020

It happens. After dreaming about working from home for years, the right remote opportunity comes along—or the company you’ve been working for decides to catch up with the times. You’re finally in front of your laptop, on the couch, doing your job. The long commute, tiny cubicle, and late-night fast food dinners are finally a thing of the past. There’s only one problem. It hasn’t gotten easier to manage stress from work; it’s actually harder now that you’re doing it from home.

Working from home (WFH) comes with its own set of unique challenges that aren’t always obvious until you find yourself living the dream and unable to focus. To increase productivity at home, without also increasing team member’s stress, you have to get creative. We’ve got a few remote work tips to get you and your team started.

How to Get More Done When You Work from Home

The lack of a physical boundary between work and home introduces new challenges and distractions. You want working from home to make your team’s productivity—not break it. In the end, developing the necessary boundaries have as much to do with mindset as with the physical workspace.

With only so much cognitive energy available to us each day, the importance of managing all of your day-to-day tasks and streamlining the focus you need to get work done is always important. With even more distractions to contend with, it takes a lot more effort. So, how can you increase your productivity while working from home and help team members to do the same? Here’s what we suggest:

Designate One Space to Act as Your Office

Ideally, you already have a home office or a guest room that can be converted into your workspace. But a separate full-sized room isn’t your only option. Walk-in closets, breakfast nooks, and attics work just as well. A well-equipped corner of the living room or bedroom can suffice, too. The point is that the particular space is designated to function as your office.

This designation does a couple of things. First, it helps to habituate you to performing work when at your desk while also preventing you from working elsewhere in the house. Without these lines drawn, it becomes too easy to be in work mode constantly—especially if you’re spreading your workload everywhere. Plus, it eventually trains other household members to respect when you’re “at work” and when you’re “home”—so they are more aware of their potential to distract you from your tasks.  

Create Office Hours and Honor Your Schedule

To further maximize your productivity, especially when your entire team is remote, announce office hours to coworkers, friends, and family. Then, put them on your calendar and honor your schedule. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is flexibility. But, without a known and predictable schedule, others will feel anxious over when they can reach you, and you’ll feel trapped by always being available.

If your team uses a remote workspace to handle shared projects and generally communicate, it’s a good bet that there are options to publish your hours on a calendar or keep your current status up to date. At home, you may need to remind your housemates for a while, put up a sign, or set a timer. You might have to get used to saying “no” a lot, too. Increasing your productivity at home includes managing others’ expectations as well as your own. 

Control the Distractions (Even When They Come from the Team)

Unfortunately, even with a designated workspace and the effort to keep a strict schedule, you will still have to contend with distractions. Whether it’s a neighbor’s home renovation project or frequent DMs from a teammate, there will be sights and sounds you’ll have to work to tune out.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make that part of your job easier:

  • Buy noise-canceling headphones to eliminate ambient disturbances.
  • Use a background noise app, like Noisli, to generate soothing sounds you enjoy.
  • Turn the volume down on your phone’s ringer, and mute incoming texts.
  • Batch emails to be delivered once a day or week with an app like Boomerang.
  • Sign out of shared software and chat apps, or set your status to “away.”
  • Mute notifications and team updates, knowing that you’ll be able to turn them back on again once you’ve had your focused time.

Use Task Management Software Designed for Remote Work

With task management software that’s designed for remote work, you’ll have access to features that keep distractions at bay—like a timer for focusing and the ability to customize notifications. With everyone’s tasks organized and accessible from one platform, managing overall workflow gets easier and faster. Here’s how:

  • Ongoing tasks can be scheduled to recur so that valuable time isn’t spent constantly recreating them from scratch.
  • Start and due dates for tasks can be set, as well as due times, which help team members prioritize workloads.
  • Files and other supporting documents for a project can be attached directly to a task, which cuts down on time-wasting searches.
  • Large tasks that may be overwhelming can be split into more manageable subtasks.
  • You can finally let go of email altogether, especially if there is a built-in chat function.

While nothing can prevent distractions entirely, you have creative solutions and tools at your disposal to get more done with less effort.

Increase Productivity at Home and at the Office

For some teams, there’s still a need to spend time in the office—and to transition back and forth between the office and home—or to occasionally travel. Regardless of the particulars for your team, what’s great about online task management software is that it goes with you no matter where you all are. Even if you have to adjust to new surroundings from time-to-time, the team’s workflow doesn’t have to feel the disruption.

Worrying about how to increase productivity at home without stretching your team thin will be a thing of the past. The short commute, view of your garden, and on-time dinners with the family can become a fresh new focus. You might even come to love your work because of how it has improved your work-life balance.

Flow helps teams increase their productivity whether they work from home, at the office, or a combination of both. Streamlined workloads can greatly improve your team’s work-life balance and their enjoyment of the job. Try out Flow for free today, and see just how easy the transition can be.

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