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Work From Home: Structure, Flexibility, and Indistractability

At CareNational, we have seen a dramatic increase on the positions we recruit for allowing the flexibility to work from home. So whether you are in leadership and have 1 or more work from home days, are doing telephonic case management or are coding charts from the comfort of your home, here are 4 tips to make working from home more productive than a traditional office environment.

At CareNational, we have seen a dramatic increase on the positions we recruit for allowing the flexibility to work from home. So whether you are in leadership and have 1 or more work from home days, are doing telephonic case management or are coding charts from the comfort of your home, here are 4 tips to make working from home more productive than a traditional office environment.

1.    Learn your work cadence and play to your strengths

Are you a morning person? Get started early so that you can get your administrative tasks out of the way and focus your best energy on getting as much done before lunch as possible. If you lose steam after lunch, consider eating a small meal in the late morning, doing a brief 15-minute exercise session during your lunch break, and then having another small meal in the early afternoon. By shaking up your body’s natural inclination to napping after a midday meal, you should be able to sustain your attention and have a bit more energy in the late afternoon.

More of a night owl? Take that 15-minute exercise session before you start your morning work. And don’t load yourself down with administrative tasks early—get into some interesting and fast-paced work at the start of your day. If you are like many work-from-home professionals, you have a non-stop string of emails coming in after hours. Set aside a 10 to 20-minute prioritization period in the evening where you focus on making your first 2-3 hours of the next day as fast-paced as possible. Even something as simple as flagging emails and setting up a couple of timeboxes for specific work the next morning will help you develop better patterns that improve your workflow.

2.    Schedule quiet hours for production, not research/training/admin work

Timeboxing your schedule is useful if you keep it light. Trying to schedule every minute doesn’t work for most people because they have bosses that will change their priorities without much warning. This isn’t a knock against bosses, this is just the nature of organizational work. Keep two to four 60-90-minute blocks as sacred as possible, so that you can ensure you have time to deliver high quality work daily. If they must be shifted, don’t do it more than once—letting “emergencies” snowball and push your scheduled work further and further down the calendar is going to get you into trouble.

During your production hours, put your cell phone on airplane mode. Seriously. Kylie Jenner and Gary Vaynerchuk will be fine without your likes for an hour. Unless it is your only phone, airplane mode. If you still need to make and take calls, turn your notifications off, including email. Use an out-of-office autoreply to let people know that you are doing uninterrupted work and that they should call you only if something needs to be addressed before the end of the scheduled time.

3.    Pick an off-hours time as your cushion to get unscheduled work done

Here’s the blessing and curse of working from home; you never leave the office. People who are successful at keeping balance in their work life and home life usually schedule a daily cushion for doing a little something extra. Think of it as your commute time: your boss (and their boss) will be happy with you as long as you’re more productive than your in-office peers. If you are saving yourself 5 to 15 hours a week of drive time, you can make 2-3 hours of additional worktime to ensure you stay ahead of your peers. Make sure you use that time to be visibly productive, so deliver something at the end of each session.

4.    Practice Indistractability

With so many distractions available online and through phone apps, it’s amazing that worker productivity keeps going up year over year. Or is it? We may produce more work product but take a minute to think about the quality of your work over the past 10 years: it’s probably about the same in many areas. Those are probably necessary tasks, and ones you can coast through at this point in your career. They are also a trap. Multitasking is your enemy to working efficiently, and you need to improve your efficiency to ensure that whoever determines that you get to work from home sees you as more valuable there than someone else at a desk in the office. Getting those timeboxed “quiet hours” onto your schedule will help build your focus and willpower to allow you to make quick sprints through tasks. Just like you shouldn’t start a conversation with the person sitting next to you at work while you glide through easy tasks, don’t pull up an entertaining window on your browser or crush some candy on your phone.

“Indistractable” by Nir Eyal is a great book that can help you focus your efforts. Although it was not written specifically for work-from-home, it was written by someone who works from home a lot. Aside from commonsense practices put into an uncommon combination, it is the story of a successful individual who lost work-life balance and had to claw it back. In 5 hours, you can learn the lessons it took the author 2+ years to discover. It’s a good place to start your journey from a productive employee to a dynamo of high-quality work.

Thanks for reading and/or watching! If you have any questions or would like to chat in more detail and consult with us on a particular search that is critical to your organization, you can reach me at 480-347-0257 or emailing me directly at aaron@carenational.com.