Working from home or WFH as it's so often referred to now, is a growing trend in Australian workplaces, and in the current global context, it’s more timely than ever to be considering. According to a recent analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the number of employed Australians who work from home increased from 20 percent of the labour force to 30 percent in 15 years – roughly one in three.
So what are the top tips for maximising your productivity, especially when those household chores, your dog Mick (toy in mouth and toting puppy dog eyes), or Netflix account are calling your name? Here are nine of our best tips to assist your WFH success...
Get up and get going
Take advantage of the convenience and time saved by avoiding the office commute; get up and get onto it. Don’t let the temptation of a snooze in or catching up on the socials get to you. Get up, shower, dress, put that coffee on and face your workload head on. Before you know it you'll have made a jump start on the day. If you’re not at your most productive within minutes of waking, then it’s a perfect opportunity to fit in some morning yoga, meditation or a HIIT workout, which will ideally ramp up your energy levels and focus for the day ahead.
Create a daily structure
Ask any successful person and they will tell you that this is vital, no matter where in the world they are working from. Create a structure, prioritise tasks and hold yourself accountable. Create a timeline for your day, set goals and give yourself KPIs for the day/week or whichever period you are WFH, and stick to them. If you are working remotely and have a manager or boss to answer to, keep them updated on your plans for the day and how you are tracking. As well as keeping you accountable for your own workload, it will portray you in a positive and responsible light.
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Dress for the job
This is a simple one. Get up, shower and dress in ‘work attire’ to assist your mindset and reinforce that it is a work day. Do not give in to the temptation to stay in your PJs, or slip into those old track pants and high school sweater. A smart outfit will do wonders for your motivation and head space. Now, we’re not saying you need to get decked out in a full Amarni suit or put on your power lippy, but a smart-casual outfit that will keep you mentally on your toes is recommended.
Invest in the required equipment
When WFH, a solid and dependable internet connection is your lifeline. There’s nothing more frustrating than jumping into a shared document when people are waiting on your input, or downloading a file, to find the internet has gone on holidays. The internet will keep you connected to any relevant clouds, work servers, emails and tools that are imperative to your output. Also ensure you are stocked up on toilet paper (if you can get your hands on it), tea, coffee and milk as you won’t be able to rely on the office supplies.
Create your ideal work space
Some offices are very corporate, stiff and structured. Others are more modern, full of bean bags and breakout spaces. If your current office set up isn’t your preferred working environment, then this is your opportunity to feng shui your space to your heart's content and your motivation is through the roof! Ideally this will be a space that’s comfortable, clean and clutter-free plus one that encourages creativity and output and is decked out with all supplies you’ll need. Setting up your space somewhere with good airflow and sunlight is also ideal. It will do wonders for your mood and productivity.
*Snacks and a good playlist are not mandatory but highly recommended
Make a to-do list, and use it
Never underestimate the value of a good to-do list. This simple and time-honoured process has been proven to work wonders for both productivity and personal satisfaction. Why? Dopamine. Completing actual tasks, and in turn ticking an item off a checklist, releases a small amount of dopamine in our brain, which then fuels us to continue that process. So you get more done and feel good about it!
Tip: Some good apps to use to assist include ‘Google Tasks’, ‘2Do’, ‘Things’, ‘Todoist’, ‘Evernote’ and ‘Droptask’.
Take breaks, get some fresh air, sunlight and maintain some kind of human interaction
Human beings are social animals. Don’t go stir crazy by blocking yourself off from all walks of life just to prove that you’re focused and allegedly ‘getting more done’. Most people don’t work like that. Instead, allow time for mental breaks. Get up and walk around the block for 15 minutes, getting some vitamin D and the blood flowing plus fresh air will do wonders. Go out into the garden and call a parent, sibling or loved one for a 10 minute chat, run an errand, or even better, use this time for a lunchtime workout. You will be impressed at how refreshed and focused you feel upon returning.
A simple but important one that can save you lots of bursts of time. If you have two phones, keep your personal one in another room until you take a break. If you only use one, turn social media notifications off during your work hours. Tell colleagues to only contact you via one specific messaging app if they need you, to minimise time checking them all. Not sure what to eat? Prep your lunch the night before, treating it like any other work day. These might save you 10-20 minutes at a time, but add that up over the course of a day and you've gained back 1-2 productive hours.
If you can multitask, make it work for you
That famous saying ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person’ does carry weight. If you are one of those highly productive people, make it work harder for you when WFH. Want to put a load of washing on? Then delegate the cycle time to a specific task, and you will have to get it done by the time the machine beeps. Preparing dinner? Prep it in your 30 minute mental break and allocate the cooking time to another task. Keen to walk the dog? Hold any calls you need to make till you’ve got Misty on her leash, then make them while taking her for a scenic tour of the neighbourhood.