7 Ways to Improve Productivity When Working From Home 2020

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The Covid-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for remote working for many people in Singapore, forcing many companies and employees to adapt to remote working as office premises were closed during the Circuit Breaker period.


As remote working becomes the new normal for many employees, the challenges that arise from working from home cannot be overlooked.


8 out of 10 employees in Singapore wish to continue working from home even after Circuit Breaker measures were lifted. However, 46% of employees working from home said they were less productive at home, especially for older workers aged between 40 and 53.


Working from home is fantastic - it saves you a lot of time from getting ready and dressing up, and travelling to and fro office. Nevertheless, managing your own time can be incredibly hard if you do not deliberately plan your day ahead. When working remotely, it is easy to find yourself spending half your time fighting procrastination and distractions (especially more so if you are married with kids at home!). Giving in to distractions means wasting productive time and you may end up spending longer hours at work just to meet the deadline.


To ensure you are being productive at remote working, it takes a lot of purposeful planning. This will not only help in increasing productivity, it will also determine your mental health and at the end of the day, your inner peace. So how can you keep your focus regardless of your environment?


  1. Rise and Shine

One of the most important habits that successful people always share is rising before the sun and starting work early. Why? Because there will be fewer distractions and a peaceful environment to focus on work, before the rest of your family wakes up. 


The advantage of working from home allows you to dive straight into your to-do list as soon as you wake up. Start the day early with a fresh mind and that can help set the momentum right for the rest of the day. 


  1. Work on Important Tasks First

The first quiet hour of the morning can be the best time to focus on meaningful work without being interrupted.


Don’t waste time and energy to plan what to do for the next eight hours. The first thing to do when your mind is still fresh and most active is to start on real work first. Especially if you are a morning person, this is the best time for you to focus on the essential tasks early in the morning.


Instead of thinking which task to do first every morning, try writing down the top three things you want to accomplish the following morning every evening when you are done with work. This makes it easier to get started right away when you get up. 


  1. Not a Morning Person? Work When You Are Most Productive

Not every successful person is the same. Some work best early in the morning, some are more focused in the afternoon, while others are most productive at night. 


It is important to know when your most productive hours are and plan your schedule around that. Be it 9am to 12 noon, or 9pm to 12 midnight, plan your tasks accordingly and get things done when you are most focused and energized. 


Energy is the critical component to consistently produce our best work. You can increase your energy by working with your body rather than fighting against it. Remote working allows you to recognise when you should concentrate your energy at a specific time than at random hours.


  1. Set a Daily Work Routine

Working from home does not mean that you work tirelessly around the clock, doing tasks whenever your boss asks you to. Basically, remote working means that your work, deadlines, breaks and your life are all managed by yourself. Without a proper structure, you can feel burnt out very easily.


Use an online calendar to keep track of personal and work events and reminders to segment what you need to do to stay on schedule. You do not want to miss that deadline even though your boss is not standing physically in front of you, nor do you want to overwork yourself just because there is no way for you to leave the “office” now.


Try to stick to your original work routine when you are in the office. Most importantly, remember to take your meals and stop for breaks. Log off when you are supposed to.


  1. Draw a Clear Line Between Work and Your Personal Life

Working in the same space everyday makes it hard to separate work from personal time, as your brain starts to associate the same spot with work. When working from home, it is also easy to curl up in bed with your laptop and pretend to be working.


To avoid having excuses and end up working in bed, build a separate home office or desk just for work. This gets your brain to associate that space for work and it helps to improve productivity. 


Find a new spot to work at home if you are constantly getting mental blocks at your current space. Moreover, if your work space is near the windows, you will probably be exposed to traffic and street noises that can become irritating over time, especially when you are rushing for a deadline. And if you have kids at home, their sound will probably fill up the whole house. Get a good noise-cancelling headphone, and together with the right music, you can focus on your work without the external distractions.


  1. Keep an Active Social Life

Remote working may seem refreshing at the start, but it can also make one feel lonely after sometime. With no colleagues to interact with and no after work happy hour to look forward to, it is important to stay connected more than ever before to keep a healthy, productive and sane life!


Reach out to your colleagues and friends and support one another in this difficult time. Modern technology has also made it easy to stay connected with tools like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Whatsapp. Positive social support can improve our resilience in coping with stress from remote working. 


  1. Maintain an Exercise Regime

Being all cooped up at home everyday can have detrimental effects on both our mental and physical health after some time. It also helps to increase your energy levels up, and keep your thinking and judgment skills sharp. While it may be obvious that we should all keep ourselves physically active, excuses never fail to stop us from taking the first step. 


If you are not near a park, you can start with doing simple workouts at home. There are many exercise workout videos available on YouTube for yoga, HIIT, aerobics, and even relaxation exercises.


So stop giving yourself excuses after reading this. Get up and do some jumping jacks, or burpees, and you will be surprised at how your body will feel. (If you have not exercised for a long time, or have any medical conditions, please seek advice from your doctor first and always start slow.) 

Forming a new habit takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days, while for a new behaviour to become automatic it takes an average of 66 days. After two months of Circuit Breaker and remote working, have you developed any good habits which help you to be more productive at work? If you have not, it is still not too late.


Try incorporating some of the above habits gradually into your work life. Moving forward, remote working is the new norm, be sure not to let this affect your next work appraisal!



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UPDATED AS OF 15 Jun 2024
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