15 Actionable Tips to Improve Unproductive Work From Home Days

Written by Domantas Vanagas

September 9, 2022

You’ve probably read the debate in your office chat a thousand times: whether it is unproductive working from home. Remote workers defend their productivity, while office workers claim they don’t get enough done! But is working from home unproductive?

As you might expect, there are many opinions on this subject! In this article, we’ll quote some great research studies that debate whether it is unproductive working from home and provide detailed productivity tips working from home that you can use in your day-to-day life to get better at time management.

Is Working From Home Unproductive?

After examining multiple studies, we find that working from home is not unproductive if approached correctly. In other words, you need to create a strong routine for working from home that enhances your productivity and keeps you on task. In the following subsections, we’ll examine a study that finds negative productivity and another that shows positive productivity working from home.

Productivity Concerns Working From Home

Our first study found that people working from home in an Asian IT services company saw an 18% increase in working outside regular hours and an 8-19% productivity decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic. They noted that several issues triggered these concerns, such as a challenging transition during the pandemic and the unpreparedness of this business to transition to this model.

Great Productivity Was Also Achieved

In our second study, a large oil and gas company was forced to close its offices and work remotely during Hurricane Harvey. The study’s author stated: “Almost all of the study’s employees were back up to the same level of output as before Hurricane Harvey. This is a huge message for employers because we’re having national debates about whether or not employees should be able to work remotely or in a hybrid schedule.”

Key Takeaways From These Studies

Examining these studies reinforced our idea about whether it is unproductive to work from home: working from home provides many unique career possibilities as long as employees are adequately prepared. These prep steps may include creating a better office, choosing a great work model, and avoiding common mistakes that may destroy their productivity.

Most Common Productivity Mistakes While Working From Home

Many remote employees make mistakes that make it hard for them to work effectively from home. The following common mistakes are issues that can make it unproductive working from home. Thankfully, we will provide some fantastic and well-researched ways to create proper time management to improve your productivity and minimize these problems.

Mistake 1: Getting Easily Distracted

If you aren’t careful, it is easy to get distracted working from home. For example, you might take a break to watch television, do various chores, nap, or even play video games. This mistake occurs when you don’t treat your work area like an office but as an extension of your home life. Knowing how to put your toys away while you work can help you stay more focused when working from home. Keep distracting items out of the room or at eye level to avoid this danger.

Mistake 2: Working Too Hard

skeleton laying on a computer

An HBR research paper found that many remote workers experience excessive burnout from working too hard. For example, you may work longer hours because of distractions and feel more tired at the end of the day. This burnout can make it harder to focus and work effectively, making it unproductive to work from home and causing emotional struggles. Set clear boundaries between and home to avoid this problem.

Mistake 3: Not Connecting With Fellow Employees

You must connect with your co-workers and fellow employees to avoid feeling isolated and lonely. Interacting with co-workers helps build stronger emotional bonds and may boost your morale. Poor communication causes miscommunication and can make you feel more isolated, which may sap your productivity.

Mistake 4: Becoming Lazy

Do you ever feel lazy working from home? This problem may occur because you don’t create a strong barrier between your home and work life. For example, you might work from your bed (the biggest mistake remote workers ever make) and interact with family members while you work. This casual setting may cause you to feel lazy and create an unproductive work environment and poor work-life balance.

15 Tips to Improve Your Productivity While Working From Home

The following productivity tips for working from home will help address many common mistakes and improve your home time management goals. They can help you increase productivity by creating a more professional environment for your home office.

We worked hard to identify the best tips for keeping yourself productive at work and used various work-from-home statistics or metrics to ensure you get the best results. Try out these tips and integrate them into your work routine, adjusting your schedule to embrace as many as possible.

1. Create a Strong Work Office

Set up a great work environment by creating a separate home office with a desk, office equipment, a locking door, and other amenities. Doing so can help your work environment feel more professional and avoid triggering a lazy attitude. If you don’t have room for an extra home office, create a consistent work area where you can easily focus.

Bonus tip: Don’t use your work area while taking a break or not working. A clear distinction between the spaces creates better balance and routine.

2. Get Rid of Your Distractions 

distracted woman working from home

Identify what causes you the most distraction and eliminate it from your workplace. For example, if you struggle not to watch television when you work from your couch, relocate to an area away from the television to ensure that you stay on task. Another distraction you may want to eliminate is social media notifications on your phone.

3. Set a Strict Schedule

Set a specific starting and ending time daily, and don’t break your routine. Creating these specific work guidelines is essential because it ensures that you don’t work too long at the end of every day. It also helps ensure you don’t get burned out and struggle to stay on task the next day. Consistency also helps with efficiency because your body likes the predictability of set schedules, such as specific meal and break times.

4. Use the Pomodoro Technique

pomodoro technique timer

The Pomodoro Technique is a revolutionary scheduling method that breaks your day down into 25-minute work and 5-minute break blocks. This method lets you focus more on your tasks by breaking them down into manageable blocks that you can easily tackle. Try to focus as much as possible during those 25 minutes or work your way up to focus during that period. You also take a 15-30 minute break after working four Pomodoro blocks, giving you something to work toward.

5. Try to Eat the Frog

Eat the Frog is a time management method that focuses on doing the most important and urgent tasks first. By tackling your biggest tasks right away, you ensure they get done on time. Just as importantly, you can give them your full attention when you’re sharpest and work more effectively. You can then tackle less urgent and important tasks later in the day.

6. Schedule Each Day in Advance

to do list on paper

Unstable work schedules can be a major productivity thief for many people. Sit down at the end of each day and create your schedule for the next. Note what tasks are the most important and urgent, and make sure that you get them done first using the Eat the Frog method we mentioned earlier. You should also focus on giving yourself breaks when possible to avoid feeling overworked.

7. Stay Active When Possible

Working out is a powerful way of improving your productivity when you work from home. Exercise releases endorphin chemicals that not only improve your mood but help you focus more effectively. Even getting outside for a brief walk is a great step. The fresh air can clear your mind, and the sunlight on your face can stimulate blood flow and improve your overall mental processes.

8. Know When to Use These Tips

In a study by Stanford, it was found that “…half of Americans don’t benefit from those technological workarounds (remote work) — many employees in retail, health care, transportation, and business services cannot do their jobs anywhere other than a traditional workplace.” As a result, it is essential to focus these steps on careers where they matter the most. Find areas of your day that need to be worked on the most by tracking your time and evaluating your efficiency during these periods.

9. Eat a Healthy Meal

healthy meal prep

Try to eat a healthy meal while you work, such as fresh fruit or healthy protein during your work day. These foods help to keep you focused and improve your energy levels and blood flow. It is better to avoid gluten-heavy foods or unhealthy snacks, like pizza. These can bog you down and make it harder to focus.

10. Create Effective Co-Worker Communication

Create strong communication protocols with your co-workers to minimize productivity issues. For example, you can set up regular meetings and chat channels to stay in touch and avoid laziness. This step also minimizes the risk of loneliness and may improve your morale.

11. Get Some Fresh Sunlight

fresh morning sunlight

Try to position your work area near open windows where you can get sunlight on your face. Sunlight can improve your blood flow, increase vitamin D production, and improve your overall mood. Open your windows when the weather is nice to get fresh air flow as well, which can help keep you focused.

12. Create the Third Space in Your Day

A third space is a separate area disconnected from your work or home that helps you refresh your mind and avoid feeling excessively tired. A brief ride to the store during your workday or after can help take you out of the work mindset and keep you from working too hard every day.

13. Reward Yourself for Productive Days

At the end of a particularly productive day, give yourself a fun reward, such as buying something nice or eating a tasty snack. A reward will release dopamine in your brain and will motivate you to pursue hard, productive days to get those rewards. Don’t reward yourself every day, though, or it might become too predictable. Choose days when you surprise even yourself with your effectiveness.

14. Use Project Management Tools

Do you have a hard time staying on task because your project’s scope is so broad? Consider using checklists, to-do lists, and project-tracking tools. These tools let you break down your project into manageable tasks to avoid feeling overburned and overworked and help you finish your projects on time.

15. Relocate Occasionally

If you feel bored in your current work environment, change things up by going to a coffee shop or renting temporary office space in town. Switching your work environment can excite your mind and make your day seem more interesting. This excitement may release endorphins that improve your work focus. It can also help you see new areas of your town and feel more adventurous in your work day.

Conclusion

So is working from home unproductive? You can tell your office-based workers that it isn’t unproductive working from home as long as you create a strong work environment and stay consistent with your schedule and minimize distractions. Follow our productivity tips for working from home to increase your effectiveness further and feel better about your overall work patterns.

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