Mark Zuckerberg swears by eliminating decision fatigue with gray t-shirts. For Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, it’s about walking five miles before work. On the other hand, Arianna Huffington favors a strict bedtime schedule. The path to productivity can be subjective, but what does science have to say about the tips that definitely work? And how can we learn how to work from home effectively once and for all?
For the majority of us around the world, our day-to-day looks a little different — at least physically. While organizations move to remote work in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, many of us are finding ourselves working remotely for the first time. With that comes some challenges — but it’s also an opportunity to become even more productive than when you’re in the office (something 65% of workers agree with).
Here are some simple changes to improve your work from home experience and ensure you don’t have a productivity dip.
Tips on learning how to work from home
1. Looking for ways to work from home effectively? Start by paring back your workspace
If your workspace is cluttered and you find yourself having trouble concentrating, the two could be related. According to Forbes, a messy desk can impact on your productivity, state of mind, and motivation. “Most people spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day looking for things,” explains Laura Stack, President of the time management firm, The Productivity Pro. When you’re used to going to a separate space to work, you may not have the same organization tactics after commandeering your kitchen table, for instance.
Organization expert Peter Walsh suggests “the only stuff in the radius of your arms should be the stuff you need immediately.” For most people, Walsh says this means a monitor, keyboard, phone, two pens, one notebook, a lamp, and one family photograph.
2. Start with your hardest task first
Sometimes, figuring out how to work from home starts with knowing what work to focus on first. If you have a difficult task on your list for the day, it can be tempting to put it off until later in the day. However, according to behavioral scientist Dan Ariely, this is a major missed opportunity for productivity. Ariely says that the first two hours we are awake are often our most productive of the day.
According to Business Insider, one of the best ways to tackle these complex projects is by breaking them down into small, manageable milestones (you can do this in a few clicks with Wrike’s task management software). This results in the same “completion high” you get from finishing easy tasks.
3. Break your work into 90-minute cycles (or try a tomato timer)
One way to work from home effectively is by beating that afternoon slump. According to Inc., sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman (the guy who discovered REM) found that, when we are awake, we experience ”ultradian cycles” of 90 minutes of high-frequency brain activity. This is followed by 20 minutes of low-frequency brain activity.
This means that trying to focus for longer than 90 minutes likely won’t result in high levels of productivity. Instead, Forbes recommends the Pomodoro Technique, where you can use a free “tomato timer” to ensure that you focus on one task for a set amount of time. Then, you can refresh your brain with timed breaks.
4. Stop multitasking, once and for all
Ever find that your productivity decreases with every additional tab you open? In a world in which we are expected to stay constantly connected, maintaining focus can become a nightmare, especially when working from home. The truth is, our brains can only properly focus on one task at a time.
“When you try to multitask, in the short-term it doubles the amount of time it takes to do a task and it usually at least doubles the number of mistakes”, says psychologist Dr. JoAnn Deak. As Harvard Business Review notes, it also increases the overall number of incomplete tasks.
When learning how to work from home, it’s tempting to take care of several personal tasks and work projects at the same time. Instead, choose one task to focus on in your 90-minute sprints (bite-size work project progress), and another during the 20-minute break (clean sink, anyone?).
5. Use work management software to prioritize tasks
If you can’t properly focus on all your tasks at once, what should you focus on then? With competing deadlines and limited time, it can be hard to tell where to start. This is where adopting task management software from Wrike comes in.
With Kanban boards, calendars, and Gantt charts, Wrike enables you to prioritize your tasks by instantly visualizing your workload. Over 20,000 companies across 140 countries choose Wrike to help with their project management efforts, including Airbnb, Hootsuite, and TGI Fridays.
Remote working is the future. Be ready with a free trial of Wrike
Recent events will undoubtedly encourage businesses to think more proactively about enabling a long-term remote workforce. So, to help your business better adjust to this “new normal”, try a free trial of Wrike's work management platform.
With your free trial, you gain access to collaborative work management tools that connect teams, organize important work, and boost productivity. Get started today and find out how Wrike can help you usher in the future of work.