At this point, you might be used to thinking about productivity in terms of teams and achievements. However, there’s also another way to measure results: through your personal productivity. Whether you’re a remote worker, a manager, or even a freelancer, there are many ways to increase your personal productivity while working remotely.
Businesses nowadays focus on productivity more than ever. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide companies have had to change their ways and work methods, pivot their services, reorganize their workforce, and make a rapid switch to remote working.
But this new way of working isn’t stable yet, and several organizations are still worried about the harm remote work could bring to their employees. According to the World Economic Forum, 78% of business leaders think hybrid and home-working will harm productivity. While in an SHRM survey, 94% of employees said their productivity was higher or the same as pre-COVID.
But, though most businesses still focus on measuring group productivity and results on remote teams, are individuals improving their personal productivity?
How Do You Measure the Productivity of a Remote Worker?
At first sight, measuring a remote worker’s productivity seems unchallenging. It’s the amount of value you created in a certain period divided by the number of hours you’ve worked. Therefore, you’ll be highly productive when you make the same amount of value for your company in a shorter period or generate a more significant value in the same amount of time.
The bad news is that two problems might emerge when working from home. Since neither your employer nor your team can confirm your working hours, remote working outcomes aren’t easily measurable. And measuring personally created value on remote workers might be more challenging – especially if you’re not making a physical product.
To measure your personal productivity, you could imagine you’re the employer wanting to see your employee’s productivity for a moment. In that case, it might be easier to consider the total number of productive hours you have on an average day- when you get tasks finished and concentrate for long periods. According to a UK Economic Research Council investigation, workers are productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes a day. At the same time, you might have five wasted hours of work a day. So, what can you do with these?
When it comes to measuring your personal productivity working from home, focus on setting your priorities. Once you’ve started your day, set the time you’ll have and the aims you want to achieve. Prioritize important tasks and check your calendar to see if any meetings might cancel your plans. Also, try to avoid multiple tasks and unrealistic deadlines.
10 Tips To Increase Your Personal Productivity As a Remote Worker
1. Set Priorities
To maximize your productivity working from home, you need to stay away from temptations, and the only way you can is by setting boundaries.
Find a stress-free zone where you can get things done. Designating a specific area in your home to create a workspace can help you concentrate better and deliver your tasks earlier, staying away from household distractions. Set physical boundaries around your office simulation to keep your housemates away while you work.
Setting boundaries could also help prevent household intrusions and establish your unavailability to everyone during remote working hours. But when it comes to complex tasks, you might become a problem too. So, take the TV remote away from your sight, turn off your phone, leave it in the kitchen, and close every window on your browser that’s not related to work stuff. Sometimes boundaries start with oneself.
2. Prioritize Important Tasks
Right now, you might be thinking every task is essential. Well, no matter how true that statement is, to achieve your goals, you’ll need to prioritize important tasks.
Have you ever looked at your weekly schedule and felt overwhelmed with so many tasks you had to accomplish? That’s why prioritizing tasks is so important. It can help you know what to deliver immediately and what can wait. And removing tasks from the to-do list that aren’t crucial could help you focus and achieve general goals more quickly.
As a remote employee, you must be realistic about what you can achieve. Once you’ve started your week, take your schedule and pick those essential tasks that you should deliver soon. Start your Monday working on them – since it’s the time of the week when you are most productive – and once you finished them, you can start working on what you’ve left aside.
Remember to be honest with your teammates about what you can do, since once you start falling behind with your responsibilities, they might distrust you.
3. The Pomodoro Technique
Have you ever heard about this technique? If you haven’t, it’s time you start applying this method!
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This technique uses a timer to break down a workday into intervals – usually, 25 minutes in length separated by short breaks. Each interval is considered a Pomodoro, from the Italian word for “tomato” – after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a student.
People popularized this technique worldwide, providing timers and instructions to any kind of worker. And it’s no surprise since constant breaks along your day can help you be more productive during your work periods.
4. Take Breaks
Before discussing breaks, let’s confirm something undeniable: break periods are as critical as productive periods. Good results come only from rest and mental health. So stop thinking these are illegal!
Most people think work intervals negatively impact their productivity. Remote work’s recent growth affected strongly on people’s work routines and several increased their working periods. According to an Inc. Magazine survey, out of 200 office workers, a quarter admitted to never leaving the desk except for lunch.
But why would you avoid breaks when these could maximize your productivity? When you start your workday and organize your daily schedule, add pauses to the list. Include 15-minutes intervals where you can grab your phone and scroll on social media or watch the news. You would be surprised how much break periods can help you focus during your working hours.
5. Practice Eating Live Frogs Method
Mark Twain, an American writer, speaker, and comedian, once said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Well, of course, the idea of eating an actual live frog might sound daunting; the quote aims to interpret the “frogs” as the tasks you dread. The most complex work tasks you hate the most are live frogs you should eat the earlier you can.
Picture it this way. Delivering the most challenging task first could help you do your best – since, during the morning, you can achieve the most concentration and have a much lighter day. Once you’ve “eaten the frog,” you can rest assured that the worst is behind you, and you can take a much more positive approach about the rest of your workday.
6. Maximize Communication
In remote teams, communication can help you achieve general and personal work goals, resulting in the best productivity. However, some remote employees still haven’t developed their communication skills.
While workers and companies can learn how to telecommute effectively, it doesn’t happen automatically. Shifting from a shared physical workspace to a virtual environment can be challenging. So, remote employees must learn how to maximize their communication practices and make the best of them.
It all starts with empathy. Show an empathetic approach to your colleagues, interact with them, ask them about their personal lives. Remember, it’s not all about work. Try to vary your communication channels; you can use Slack for regular communication, Skype for business issues, and Basecamp for long-lasting projects. Growing your work relationships through fun could help you achieve better productivity!
7. Set Yourself a To-Do List
Having a daily to-do list helps your organization. Organizing your task with a list can make everything more manageable and neat. Visualizing a clear outline of your completed and uncompleted tasks will avoid overwhelming periods and keep you mentally focused.
Crossing items off your to-do list could give you a sense of progress and accomplishment that could get lost working from home – since your boss and colleagues aren’t constantly aware of what you do. Plus, the affirmation of your progress will help you motivate and maintain your productivity.
8. Listen To Yourself
You’re the most critical factor in this productivity equation. So you first need to listen to yourself. The productivity you’re aiming to achieve can only be possible through your actions and motivations.
Understanding your motivations and capabilities could help you achieve better results at work – since you know what you can give and what you can’t.
When you achieve your goals, reward yourself with small incentives. For every task you tick off your to-do list, give yourself a treat – whether an excellent coffee, some minutes scrolling through your social media, or a 10-minute break. When you find too much on your plate, delegate tasks – if pòssible. There’s nothing wrong with needing help when you feel overwhelmed.
9. Must, Should, Want Method
This method focuses on figuring out what’s crucial today and what can wait for tomorrow. And it’s about writing everything you have to do and then identify each as a Must, a Should, or a Want.
Your Must task is non-negotiable responsibilities – like pay rent, for example. So, if you apply this method to your work schedule, musts should be those goals you need to accomplish.
A Should is something you must do – whether some project you didn’t deliver on time or some responsibility your team hope’s you to take. In your workday, you cannot delay shoulds since someone else is expecting them.
And a Want is something you’ll like to do but might not be critical at the moment. You can put off wants for the future – for example, learning a new language or working on next month’s projects for work.
10. Learn to Say No
Saying “no” might make you feel lazy, uncomfortable, and even guilty with your teammates. But the truth is, that’s false. If you’re a responsible employee and deliver your tasks on time, nobody will think badly of you when you say “no.”
Humans tend to believe the word “no” harms people – especially on work teams – but you must prioritize honesty, and if there’s something you cannot accomplish or do, just say no! Plus, learning to reject those projects in which you cannot participate could help your colleagues trust you on the ones you can.
How Does Remote Work Affect Personal Productivity?
Before you read the answer to this question, let’s clarify something: Remote work itself doesn’t affect personal productivity; the pandemic does.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent millions of workers to mandatory quarantine and work from homes, including those who had never tried it before. Several of these remote-work arrangements happened overnight, leaving companies, employees, and employers adrift. People faced a new work reality, full of personal anxieties and general concerns about the public health crisis.
It’s no surprise workers’ personal productivity has suffered. Without high effort from remote employees – as well as remote managers – people could feel distracted, isolated, unmotivated, and even stressed.
So, remote work doesn’t negatively impact personal productivity. As a remote employee, you should consider and apply remote work practices accordingly – like increasing your communication with your teammates – to improve your personal productivity.
Ready to Boost Your Personal Productivity?
Nobody isn’t productive. Everyone is capable of doing their best with motivation, good practices, and organization.
Focus on what’s good for you, on your capabilities, as well as your disabilities. The only way you can progress is by trying and striving to improve yourself. And stay away from frustration. Whether you’re a productive employee or you need to improve your skills, there’ll always be a thing you can improve. So, focus on those!
Remember to make yourself a guide to follow. It may sound unnecessary, but having a guide that details all the steps you must take could help you improve your productivity and results at work. Practice the Pomodoro Technique, practice eating live frogs, enjoy breaks, and communicate as much as you can. There’s nothing wrong that can come out of it!