Tips to self-monitor productivity when working remotely

Jul 28, 2016 7:30:00 AM


Did you know that there are 53 million people who work as freelancers, which is about 34% of the US workforce? Other than freelancers, more and more employees are choosing the work-from-home option.

With the idea of working remotely becoming so popular amongst companies and employees, it's time for us to ensure that the luxuries provided by working from home don’t affect our productivity.

For example, your kids are playing in the room next door and you are tempted to join them; or the TV show you have been meaning to watch is now on Netflix; or you look at your bed and all you want to do is curl up in it. With distractions like these, how do you monitor yourself and stay productive? Here are eight tips to keep yourself in check:

Stay in sync with your employer’s work hours

At my startup, Hiver, although we are very flexible about working from home, the one thing we insist on is that the employees should log in and work during the company hours itself. This makes collaboration easy and keeps the workflow in sync.

  • One way to fix your work hours is to keep them in sync with your client or company hours. That way, if you have doubts and questions regarding your tasks, you won’t have to put if off until the next day.
  • Make sure to keep track of the number of hours you are working, using apps like Toggl for instance. You can measure your productive hours to help you understand how well—or not well—you are doing.

Create a work temple and treat it like a holy place

When working from home, one rule you have to religiously stick to is to not blend your workplace and your personal place. Mixing them will make it hard for you to discipline yourself.

While it would be great to be on Netflix while working, or to sit next to your kid, it is counter-productive. It can lead to you spending four hours on a task worth one hour. Plus, divided focus can increase the chances of making mistakes.

Make your workspace a sacred zone where you do nothing but work, and once you are done, step out into your fun or family zone.

Don’t dress down. No pajamas!

No doubt, one of the best things about working from home is to be able to sit in your pajamas, cozy and carefree; but sitting in pjs, eating pizza, and working off your couch isn’t really healthy for your mind or your body.

Power dressing has been emphasized by all successful people. It helps you feel confident, resourceful, and even successful. In fact, you can use your dressing to compartmentalize your life—work mode ON when you are dressed up, and work mode OFF when you are dressed down. 

Plan your chores and meals ahead of time

When working from home, you may get this sudden urge to clean the house or cook yourself a nice Italian dish. As tempting as this may be, it interferes with your work schedule.

During the weekends, plan your meals and household chores for the entire week and strictly adhere to the plan. This way you won’t give into your whims, and you won't have to spend time on planning these activities every day. Plus, having a schedule to stick to takes a lot of stress off your mind.

Make use of productivity techniques like Pomodoro

Science says that people are more efficient when they work in short intense bursts of time. The Pomodoro Technique puts this concept to use—you work in bursts of 25 minutes and take 5 minute breaks to stretch and relax.

After four such cycles, you get a long break of 20 minutes or so. To keep track of time, you can make use of tools like Pomotodo to help you get habituated to this technique.

Take the help of technology to discipline yourself

If you easily get distracted and end up on e-commerce websites or social media, use tools like Rescuetime, which block distracting websites for a given period of time. Other apps and tools can help you be more productive, too. Time management apps like Remember the milk can help you plan and schedule your day effectively.

Invest in workplace ergonomics

According to science, good workplace ergonomics can increase productivity. The concept behind ergonomics is to design the physical aspects of a workplace in such a way that it minimizes physical strain. A poor work setting can deteriorate your health. Consider working in an uncomfortable chair or at an uncomfortable table for 6-7 hours every day. You will definitely end up with a severe backache, and it leads to frustration and physical fatigue, which will affect the quality of your work.

Take calls in the afternoon

When you know that you are usually in a slump in the afternoon, plan activities that require more action and physical activity, such as taking phone calls, doing the laundry, etc.

Even science says that we all are not productive during all parts of the day—keenly observe which part of the day you are most productive and which part of the day you are not and plan your work accordingly.

"Stressing output is the key to improving productivity while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite."  - Paul Gauguin

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Niraj Ranjan Rout

Written by Niraj Ranjan Rout

Niraj is the founder of Hiver (, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool.