Working from home is often hailed as the ultimate setup for higher productivity. You don’t have to commute, you have fewer noisy coworkers, and you have more control over your work environment directly — so it makes sense that many people would work harder and get more done in a shorter period of time.
But for many remote workers, trying to accomplish their goals in a home office, these benefits aren’t as apparent. If anything, working from a home office has made them less productive.
So what could be responsible for this disconnect? As you might imagine, there are many possible culprits. Let’s take a look and see if we can eliminate them for your situation.
Office Environment Problems
Sometimes, the root cause is your environment.
You don’t have a separate office space.
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should work from anywhere in your home. If you want to be more productive and more focused, it’s important to have a dedicated space for your home office. Doing work on the living room couch, or the dining room table, you might be distracted by the other people and things in your house. Even worse, you’ll be stuck in a relaxed mentality that prevents you from doing your best work.
You’re distracted by environmental stimuli.
You might also have a problem with environmental stimuli, which can come in a variety of flavors. For example, you might have a noisy toddler in the room above you. You might live in a noisy neighborhood. You could also be distracted by the TV that’s constantly in the background or a persistent smell you just can’t seem to get rid of. Try to identify and eliminate the sources of these disruptions.
Your environment is unclean or stuffy.
If your environment is unclean or stuffy, you may also find it hard to focus. If your desk is cluttered with unnecessary items, if your carpet hasn’t been vacuumed in weeks, or if the air itself is filled with contaminants, it can be distracting to even the most focused individuals. Make it a point to clean and declutter your home office on a regular basis, preferably at least once a week. You can also invest in an air purifier to remove certain particles from the air and circulate clean air in your chosen environment.
You don’t have the right furniture.
Furniture doesn’t seem like it would make a big impact on your productivity, but the right investment can make a huge difference. Make sure your desk gives you enough space to work and is the appropriate height to allow for ideal posture. Similarly, it’s important to have a chair that provides ergonomic support and one that encourages good posture. With these in place, you’ll be able to work much more productively and stave off potential health issues like chronic back pain.
You don’t have the right equipment.
It’s tough to be productive without the right gear. You might have gotten your equipment from your employers or you might have purchased it yourself. Either way, your equipment will have a major impact on how much you can do during a workday. If your computer is old, damaged, or slow, you’ll have little hope of reaching your full potential. Consider upgrading components like your central processor and your RAM to get better results.
You aren’t setting the right atmosphere.
Your working atmosphere is a complex assortment of different sights, sounds, and smells. Do your best to create an ideal environment for yourself. This could mean investing in new lamps and auxiliary sources of light, upgrading your speakers and playing the right music, or burning candles and incense to fill your environment with a pleasant scent. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Habit and Mentality Problems
Other times, your lack of productivity is primarily due to your habits or your mentality. Listed below are some common examples.
You’re stuck in “home” mode.
Most of us experience a pronounced shift when we transform from work mode to home mode or vice versa. If you’re stuck in the mentality that you’re at home and that you should relax, you won’t be able to focus on your work. Conversely, if you’re always stuck in work mode, you may not be able to relax in your own house. Set up a home office that is separate from the rest of your house. Adhering to a strict schedule can help you keep your home life and work life separate.
You start the day inconsistently.
It’s important to have a routine. If you start the day inconsistently, you won’t be able to seamlessly begin your workday and start building momentum. Try to wake up at the same time every day and go through the same actions in the same order. It might get a bit tedious at times, but you’ll work much more fluidly and you’ll build momentum faster.
You skip breakfast.
The conventional wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day has been met with some recent debate. But there’s no ambiguity in the fact that if you’re hungry, you won’t be able to do your best work. Make it a point to eat breakfast every day, whether you can make a full assortment of eggs and bacon or whether you just have a quick bowl of oatmeal.
You eat poorly.
Some people struggle to be productive while working from home because they’re constantly snacking, or because their eating habits have deteriorated to become much more unhealthy. Try to keep your meal times consistent and rely on a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and complex carbohydrates. Avoid junk food if you don’t want to feel sluggish the rest of the day.
You feel like you can get away with the bare minimum.
In some situations, working from home makes you feel like you can get away with the bare minimum. As long as you’re online and responding to messages, your boss may not care much about your performance. At first, this may seem like a great benefit, but over time, it will make you bored and despondent. If you find yourself in this position, try to challenge yourself in some unique ways. And if you can’t challenge yourself at this position, consider finding a new one.
You don’t have support from coworkers or bosses.
Employees need to feel engaged to be productive. If you don’t have the support of your coworkers and colleagues, or if you feel very detached from your employers, you’re going to be miserable. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can do much about yourself. All you can do is request more support as specifically as possible and hope you get it in the future.
Many people have struggled with working from home because they get lonely, especially if they don’t have a family living with them. But there are many ways to resolve this issue. You can work in a different environment, go to a café, or even just interact with your neighbors to get some more socialization.
You’re tired of this environment.
Any productive work environment has the potential to grow stale. If you find yourself getting tired of this remote workspace, consider rearranging it or temporarily working at a coworking space or other public location.
Which of these problems is significantly affecting your productivity? Which ones can you address immediately?
Make some adjustments to your approach to remote work and see if you notice a significant difference in your productivity. If you don’t see a measurable boost, try something else, and repeat this process until you get the results you’re after.
Working from home isn’t ideal for everyone, so if you can’t find a path to productivity after months of effort, it may be in your best interest to find a conventional office position or a different career entirely.
Image Credit: Olia Danilevi, Pexels