Working from home has become a trend. More and more companies offer remote working options to their employees because working from home saves travel time and cost, and consequently, increases overall productivity.

That’s the main purpose. However, people have choices to make, such as about how they spend their time, how to manage their workload and how to connect with others to get things done.

In a typical Canadian winter, wind chill temperature can go as low as -40 C. To avoid extreme weather and unnecessary injuries, a lot of companies require their employees to work from home at least 1-2 days per week.

Recently, due to the Coronavirus, a lot of countries also started enforcing their employees to work from home. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a veteran of working from home or you’re new to this, I keep hearing the same message repeatedly from friends saying “I get overwhelmed! I’m busier than working in the office! And I’m getting less things done!”

Why does working from home actually kill productivity and how to do about it?

Home sweet home. Indeed, there is no place like home as they say. We like our home because of the familiarity and convenience it can bring to us. On the other hand, convenience removes formality. We can just wear our pyjamas at home, do the laundry while working in front of the computer or reply to emails while talking to family members at the same time. In fact, multitasking is the number one reason for losing our focus and dumbing down all of the outcomes in the process.

Distractions are another big issue. Home office is not just an office; it’s also a co-living space for your pets, your spouse, your kids and other family members, so it’s easier to get distracted by so many people and things around you. On top of that, switching back-and-forth makes it difficult to focus on your task and can cause mental blocks that can slow you down.

Therefore, maintaining a clear mind is key to working effectively at home. Also, not getting overwhelmed can help achieve positive outcomes.

Good focus begins with a morning workout

Exercising before starting your day boosts your energy and improves your focus.

When I’m working from home, I usually go to the gym in my building first and spend 30-40 minutes there. I try to do various exercises, including treadmill running, stationary bikes, yoga and some strength training. I then take my breakfast at home and get ready for the day.

Having good energy is the foundation of high productivity and performance. When your body is full of energy, it will bring positive vibes to your work.

Set clear boundaries and say NO more often

Working from home can lead to extended working hours.

Although it reduces travel time, people tend to work longer hours because of reduced body movement and the absence of a structured working environment.

You have to set clear boundaries and know when to stop.

When it’s time for lunch, try to not accept meeting invites during lunch time so that you can take a break and get yourself recharged. Take time off for yourself and stop checking emails or doing work after a certain time.

Even though you’re at home, you should still keep up your routine because opting for a balanced life approach is crucial to driving effectiveness and happiness in the long term.

Use tools to prevent distractions

Distractions are everywhere; it can be worse when working at home. Instead of fighting with kids and others to eliminate distractions, we can use different tools to prevent them.

Put a “Do not disturb” sign at your door and let others know that you’re not available for XX time. Put your cellphone on airplane mode when you need to do some important work and use an App like Krisp to mute background noise during calls (you can’t stop everyone else in the house to make noise, but you can definitely reduce the noise level to a minimum and be professional on the phone).

Focus on the most important activities that produce results

Doing the right things is more important than doing things right.

Communicating with everyone and collaborating remotely can be tedious and time-consuming. It’s very important to define clear goals and give clear instructions to others. Avoid unnecessary meetings if no meeting objectives and agenda are available.

Focus on the results by spending time on deep work and most important activities for your goals.

Working from home provides convenience. It also provides safety and flexibility while keeping the business going amidst a bad circumstance like this time. It’s up to us to decide how we want to manage our work when staying home. Remember, getting more positive outcomes is always more important than getting more done.