How to work from home effectively?

Productivity
Tips and tricks to work more efficiently online

As the number of virtual workers grows the problem of self-motivation and self-control becomes more topical. An experiment with Chinese website Ctrip had demonstrated that those working from home can be more productive than their office colleagues. But that’s an average productivity while an individual person can struggle some lack of control and destructions during working from home.

When I faced the necessity to work from home I asked my colleagues how to make the day effective. The advice was to observe my individual work style and read scientific literature about effectiveness. So, here are some scientifically based tips which work for me:

Keep your mind cold

Studies suggest our brain works worse in warm conditions. People perform better at complex decision tasks in cold rooms. That can be explained by the fact that for our body it easier to warm up than to cool down. It takes a lot of glucose to maintain the comfort temperature. The comfort temperature is something individual as people in warm and cold countries use to acclimatize. In this case working from home has its benefit as you can choose your own comfort temperature. Glucose breakfast and slightly cold room help me to concentrate.

Observe your brain peaks

It seems that people are different in terms of their chronotypes. Some of us are “owls” while others are “larks” and we have different cognitive peaks. I completed some cognitive tasks in different time to understand my own peaks. It acquires that my brain works better in the morning. Moreover, when I stay in bed late in the morning, the rest of the day becomes less productive. So, I try  to wake up earlier no matter what. If it’s too hard, I allow myself to take a short nap in the middle of the day. That works for my chronotype.

Plan your work. Plan your break

You can start with the normal office schedule, for example, start work at 8 am and then have a break at 12 pm. Then you can adjust it to your chronotype and brain peaks when you observe them. Regular schedule and daily plans help to keep up with the workflow. I like to use task-tracker for this purposes. Every morning I look at the tasks I got from my supervisors and create some tasks for myself. A behavioral economist Dan Ariely suggests that we should also plan what to do during the breaks. His advice is to not use Facebook or social media to relax but instead, do some physical activity like cooking. I usually take breaks to do some exercises, especially when get tired of sitting pose. That helps to recharge the brain and stay healthy.

Interact with your coworkers

When I was working on my master thesis, it was hard to avoid procrastination. So, the library where others are watching me was a solution. I’m not a student anymore but this helpful tip works even now even virtually. First of all, I use a task tracker where anyone from my fellow workers can see my plan and tasks. I know that they use it mostly to see if I available to take another project or to help with the current. But the idea that somebody may watch makes me more disciplined. Another tip is to participate in discussions with colleagues. Scientists had studied online learners and found out that negative relationship between procrastination and performance can be partially explained by participation in discussions. So, communication with coworkers helps to stay engaged. I like to leave some comments on my tasks to let the supervisors know about the progress or to use work chats. Even discussing a new episode of GoT with colleagues in a messenger during the break helps me to stay motivated.

These tips work for me. What does make you stay productive?


Marina Green

Marina Green

Behavioral scientist

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