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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

How To Work From Home Without Getting Distracted

How To Work From Home Without Getting Distracted

Both small businesses and multinational corporations in different parts of the world are rolling out work from home policies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It won’t be an understatement to think this shift will become the norm for several people, given the fact that the novel coronavirus has already reached the pandemic stage, according to WHO.[1]

While a lot of people are used to the system, several others are finding it challenging to learn how to work from home during widespread quarantines. It becomes especially difficult when there are a whole lot of distractions to manage.

If you are one of those people, here are some top distractions that will compete with your productive time:

  • Housework
  • Family and friends
  • Email and Instant Messaging
  • Social Media and Internet Browsing
  • Phone and Texts

How can you avoid these distractions while working from home?

Here are some tips to help you avoid distractions and get more done while working from home.

1. Dedicate a Space for Work

It is highly essential to dedicate a workspace in your home.

Peter Vandendriesse, the founder and CEO of Guestboard.co says:

“While it is easier to sit on a couch while working on your laptop, you can’t get it right with your sitting posture and ergonomics. And because you are closer to the TV, you can become distracted easily.”

So how do you maximize your home office?

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You can set up a double monitor and use a work desk or a standing desk, depending on your work.

Your workspace should be dedicated to working just like your bed is dedicated to sleeping.

2. Isolate Yourself from Social Media

There’s nothing as tempting as social media. You may want to stay up-to-date about the news and what your friends are up to. Try to audit your time, though, and you’ll discover that you’ve probably spent over 5 hours doing that each day.

So how can you get away from this?

Isolate your mobile devices if you don’t have to use the internet, and stick to your laptop. Lori Cheekd, the CEO of Cheekd, recommends using productivity apps like StayFocusd to avoid distractions. Or you can set time restrictions with the Google Chrome extension Limit. Once you have used up the time allocated, the selected websites will be blocked, and you can’t access them for the rest of the day. You can also download the best Android productivity apps and top productivity apps for iPhones .

Another approach is to freeze social media apps on your mobile devices to focus on your work.

3. Dress for Work

According to Andre Fasciola, the CEO of Matcha Kari,

“It is important to have good habits. It can be comfortable sitting in your pajamas, but you cannot be in your professional mindset in your pajamas.”

The focus here is not how you look, but establishing and maintaining a business mindset while you work from home.

You don’t have to wear a pencil skirt or a three-piece suit. Wear what makes you comfortable. Then follow your morning routine.

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It makes a whole lot of sense to wake up in the morning, shower, eat your breakfast, and dress up for success. That alone will create a consciousness of work instead of allowing the day just to run its course while you complete your work in between.

4. Establish Boundaries

It is your responsibility to train your family and friends on how to relate to you and treat your work time.

Why is that important?

A lot of them don’t know you work from home. You need to tell them you are not available for the long lunch or the movie break.

Working from home is often quite advantageous. You are in charge of your schedule, and you end up creating boundaries that work for your specific position.

5. Create Your Schedule

Have a list of tasks you want to complete each day. Then, allocate time to achieve each task.

If you are an ardent follower of to-dos, create one and cross off each task you complete. Don’t forget to allocate break times. That way, you can be sure of a realistic schedule.

According to Kathi Burns of Wikihow,

“A schedule is an effective means of staying focused, productive, and organized. You can experiment with a planner, notebook, or an app to structure your time.”[2]

Track how much time you spend on routine activities in a spreadsheet or notebook. This act can help you to be more productive. For instance, you may be spending 5 hours on social media each day when you could have spent those hours reading.

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Not only that, but schedule your day to reflect your energy. Knock out essential tasks when your energy is high and take care of less important tasks when you are less motivated. For instance, if you feel at your best in the morning, use that time to brainstorm and attend to crucial tasks.

6. Know When to Sign out

One mistake that is common to everyone is that we tend to work too much while trading off other important aspects of our lives.

This means it’s important for you to establish a fixed time and sign out when you feel you are burning out. Maximize your work hours, and enjoy your break to refresh and prepare yourself to clock back in.

7. Plan to Exercise

It is ideal to incorporate some physical exercises into your schedule when working from home.

When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get lethargic and forget to get up and get moving. It’s important, then, to schedule in time when you should be exercising.

So what can you do to stay fit and be productive?

Exercise your muscles! You can do this both indoors and outdoors.

It’s not only your muscles that get boosted when you exercise. Physical exercise can boost your brain performance. A workout can keep those endorphins flowing and provide you with a natural burst of energy.

Briton University surveyed 200 employees on a day with or without exercise. Guess what the outcome was?

Employees who exercised scored 21 percent more for a higher concentration on work, 22 percent more for work completion, and 25 percent more for finishing work without unscheduled breaks. Not only that, but they also scored 41 percent for feeling motivated on the job.[3]

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Another survey showed the significance of fitness in the work performance of about 683 workers.[4]

You can’t attain your peak performance while working from home if you are not fit.

So how do you stay fit?

Try yoga, dance, or run in place. You don’t need sophisticated gadgets to exercise; just start with what you have and stay committed.

Bonus: Find Your Focus and Eliminate Distractions

You need to find a spot in your house where your focus is at a peak. It may be indoors or outdoors. When you find that spot, establish your workspace and reduce distractions as much as possible.

Also, highlight your biggest distractors and devise means of eliminating them.

Distraction remains a daunting challenge you will need to overcome when working from home. You cannot discover your focus zone if you don’t highlight your biggest distractors.

While it may be hard to eliminate all distractions, you can reduce them by following these tips:

  • De-clutter your desk and office. Leave only items that are relevant.
  • Hang a ‘Do not disturb!’ sign when you are working on tasks that require optimal focus.
  • Close all browsers and applications that are not relevant to the tasks at hand. Put your phone on airplane mode and reply to that email later.

You can also establish a period when you take care of all these extra activities during the day.

Conclusion

If you are new to working from home, you may encounter challenges while trying to stay productive and focused. However, as you try these tips I’ve shared, you will continue to gain ascendancy over your time and work.

More Tips on Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Anna Auza via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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