Efficient at Work When Working Remote – 16 tips
by Josien - 08 May, 2020
Since 2017 I have been working and traveling at the same time. That sounds exotic, but people tend to forget that it takes a lot of dedication and efficient work routines to get sh*t done. It’s not always easy. But once you figure it out, it’s the best thing ever and I like to share with you how I stay productive and efficient!
I made a list of tips for people who (are thinking about) work from home to be more productive and work efficiently/effectively. I hope it helps you make it work, cause once you are able to work remotely, there is so much more freedom and less stress!
Here we go:
1 . Do not stay in bed
My biggest pitfall was that I start at 9 am, and then usually at 8.30 am (right after my alarm went off) grabbed my laptop on my lap to read the first news. In the end, you will immediately be sucked into your work, because you will already see that one e-mail, and you’d better answer that immediately. Before you know it it is 12 o’clock and you are still stinking in your bed.
Also, if you snooze, you lose! Scientists have proven that the more you snooze, the less productive you are during the day. So get out of your bed and start your morning routine!
2. Create an efficient work or morning routine
This is one of the most important parts of my day: my morning routine. As soon as I move somewhere new I always need a bit of time to settle in, but my work keeps going. So it’s really nice to have that routine ready.
The routine that keeps me productive and work efficiently is as follows:
My alarm usually goes off 2 hours before I actually have to get to work. You’d think this is a lot, but calculate the time you need now between your alarm and really being at your office? You normally need time to make your way through traffic, but I use that time for some stretching, meditation, and read the news, slowly.
1. Alarm, max snooze is 10 min
2. Get dressed and make up the bed (important!)
3. Stretch or Work out
4. Meditate for 10 min
For me, it’s important to NOT use/touch/check/look at my phone BEFORE breakfast. This is super hard and I fail a lot of times, but the fewer distractions I have in the morning, the more efficient I work.
Be efficient at work
even if you’re working from home!
3. Go outside, move around and get some sunshine
If you go to the office every day, you will at least get the necessary fresh air and exercise. Whether that is in the form of cycling, walking, or running for the bus. Now that you are at home you have to replace that. So go for a run in the morning, a walk around the block, or a bike ride. Are you on a Coronavirus lockdown: do some jumping jacks in your backyard, run up and down the stairs in your building, open windows, etc. Just staying in the same room will not do your immune system and productivity any good, and in this way, you kind of ‘reset’ your day, so that it doesn’t become a long routine from bed-desk-bed-desk-bed. Being efficient at work means routines with healthy breaks from those routines. If that makes any sense…
Also, make sure the walks to the coffee machine, and short talks with your co-workers are not forgotten. Get up from your desk, make yourself some coffee or call a friend or coworker for a short time.
4. Take good care of your living space
Your home is now also your workplace, so make sure you have a pleasant atmosphere. If you’re home all day, you can, for example, pick up those socks from the ground (let’s pretend that I don’t speak from personal experience), do an extra wash, and flutter your room with a Swiffer. You can even use these small activities as breaks from work. But make sure the living is clean and organized.
I work from different apartments myself, and for me, it makes a huge difference to make my bed and to make sure my workplace is free from clutter. I am the most productive and efficient at work when I have a clean desk.
Mama always said, “A tidy house is a tidy head.” Guess she had a point…
A tide house is a tidy head
The key to being efficient at work when working from home is a clean and organized house.
5. Create a separate, efficient workspace
Even if you work from home it is important that you have a suitable working environment. Working from bed or from the couch may sound adventurous, but it is bad for your health and productivity. By creating a separate workspace in your home, you can put your brain into work mode and work more efficiently.
The most ideal scenario is a private room that you furnish as a home office. This way you can cut yourself off from the rest of the family, roommates, or over-affectionate pets. A bright room with a window for fresh air, a good setup for your hardware, and a nice office chair are all important. You simply need to work comfortably, both at home and in the office.
Not everyone has the space to create this in their homes. Heck, I can’t even create this in most of my Airbnb’s. The more important it is to clear out the kitchen table and position yourself facing the sunlight.
Kids at home? Create a “work spot” for them too. Put all their toys in the same corner, make an “efficient at work schedule” for them too and sync that with yours. And make rules! For example: when you stand up (to get coffee for example), they can come and ask you for things. When you sit down, they have to play on their own. Treat them as your co-workers and let the magic (and hard work) begin 🙂
6. Dress like you really are going to your office
Again, working from the couch in your pajamas sounds great, but it’s not helping you at all. Even if you feel like the world is coming to an end due to the pandemic Coronavirus, dress up! Staying in your stale pajamas all day long turns even the happiest sunbeam into a depression…
So if you get dressed, make it cute. No, that doesn’t mean you have to sit at your desk in a cocktail dress with a face beat for the Gods, but hey: instead of your washed flannel pajamas, opt for a comfortable outfit that looks cute in case you need to open the door for the mailman.
What also helps me is to have something on my feet. Socks or slippers are too comfy, sneakers make me feel more active and better at my desk. It also prevents me from having cold feet during my day.
7. Take real lunch breaks
The lunch break is normally the moment when you give all your colleagues a detailed account of how your weekend adventures, but now you have to rely on yourself. It’s tempting to make a sandwich and sit back at your desk and keep reading emails. But no, you really have to take 30 minutes. So move your bum to another place in the house, turn on the radio, meditate, or watch some YouTube. If you don’t, your days will be very long.
Eat healthy, take breaks
It’s very important you stay active and healthy. A walk in the park, meditate and/or make yourself a fresh smoothie.
8. Eat healthy and drink enough water
When you work at home, it is very tempting to slip into the fridge during a packer and reward yourself for your hard work. And before you know it, your entire snack stock is gone. Don’t buy snacks, but instead buy carrots, apples, bananas, and other veggies and fruits. Sugar will give you a small peak of alertness, but there is a severe dip after that point and that has a negative impact on your productivity for the rest of the day.
9. Work out to work efficiently during the day
Get up and move! If you work at home, you may be more flexible in how you organize your working day. Take advantage of that by scheduling sports moments. This provides a clear mind and more energy. Choose a fixed time of day for your sport session and stick to it. You can also spread it over the day and do an exercise every two hours, for example.
10. Have a to-do-list-strategy
Do you have a list of what you are going to do today? Make a list of appointments and tasks and determine your priorities. You can do this in the morning, but it often works better to do this at the end of your working day for the next day. This way you can use this moment to close the working day and to avoid being behind the work laptop all evening.
Pro tip: make a top 3 of things you want to do for yourself (supermarket run, laundry, etc), a top 3 that returns every day (eat 2 pieces of fruit, drink 2 liter of water, meditate) and a top 3 for work (send this email, research that, make sure Joe did his work, meetings). But make sure these are no more than 3 and are your top priorities. This makes your start of the day so much easier!
11. Turn off notifications
You have heard this before, you know this! A message on WhatsApp, a funny mention on Facebook or a post on Instagram. Yes, that phone has some influence on us. But such notifications can also distract us on the computer itself.
I already turned off a lot of notifications, but what I do during working hours is to put my phone on “do not disturb”. I only make an exception for calls. I do not see all the other notifications. Also on the computer, I snooze tools such as Skype and Slack (chat program with my colleagues). That works a lot more efficiently because I know that such notification immediately catches my attention. You can also download several different apps/programs for this. For example Freedom, with this, you set the time you can spend on certain websites or you can block websites at the times you specify (FaceBook, News websites, Gaming websites). Find one that suits you and avoid distractions.
Turn of the notifications on your phone.
12. Get enough sleep
I can’t say this enough: sleep sleep sleep. Ok, when I was in my early 20s I didn’t care and thought I would never need 7 hours of sleep, but now in my early 30s I absolutely need this! A good rest between workdays is proven to be good for your brain and will avoid you from having a burnout. Working from an office or at home, sleep is important. This is also why it’s important to keep work out of your bedroom.
13. Efficient at work blocks
It is unrealistic to think that you can maintain your concentration throughout the day. Still, the danger of nonstop working all day long when you work from home is a real danger. Organize your workday and plan blocks of max two hours. For being efficient at work, you take a short break between the blocks. And yes, that may also mean that you do a wash, go rooting in the garden or do a short meditation.
14. Stop in time with work
It is tempting to keep going for a bit and finish your work. However, this “bit” is often getting longer, so you will also be working more and more hours. Would you do this at the office too? Or would you go home at 5 pm? At some point, these little bits of extra work becomes too much and you don’t want to be overtaken by a burnout.
Stay efficient at work.
Stop in time and create a real desk when you want to stay efficient at work when working from home.
15. “Efficient at work” playlists
This is a very personal one, but for me, music really works. In the morning I have my morning playlist and as soon as my work starts, I switch to a focus-playlist with mostly only instrumental music. You can even switch music per activity if you like.
My noise-canceling headphones are also a big help. As soon as I put them on, I’m focused. Nothing can disturb me and my surroundings know I’m deeply focussed: they will leave me alone 😉
Try and test if it works for you too!
16. Automize as much as possible!
This applies to everyone. Both working from home as working in the office. Automating processes helps you make better use of your time. Sometimes it can be an investment (money or time), but in the end, it also provides you a lot of time or money. For example, there are many software programs for invoicing that allow you to create an invoice quickly and easily.
Scheduling social media? For example, use Hootsuite or Later, you will save time in between. See which processes you have that you can automate and find the right tool for this. We live in a modern world, I am confident that the wheel has already been invented for many of our processes.
Working from home can bring you so much freedom and happiness, I hope you can experience this with the efficient-at-work- tips above! With the right tools and routines, you can relax and schedule your workday better. Do you have questions about working from home or are you curious about how I do certain things differently as a digital nomad? You can ask me anything!