Secrets to Efficiently Work from Home

A front-end developer working from home for the last ten years shares his tips and tricks on optimizing your home office set up and productivity.

Imagination Media

Sep 15, 2020
Secrets to Efficiently Work from Home

Most people think working from home is a dream come true; no need to wake up early, no need to get ready or commute and enough time to even do random house chores alongside working. But guess what, the new norm forced upon all of us has shown that it's not so true.

Working from home is tough and being efficient while working from home is even more challenging. Being a Frontend Developer, I have been working from home since the last ten years, and I would like to share some tips that have helped me increase my productivity and keep my mind and body in healthy shape.

Here are some of the ideas that can help you stay away from the usual home distractions.

Organizing Your Day

Managing the Workload

a. This goes without saying even when you work from an office: managing your tasks is very important. Always check your project boards, add relevant information and steps to the tasks assigned, and track the time correctly. Keeping the assignments up to date so that rest of your team is well informed about your work is crucial.

b. Before you begin tackling your day's tasks, spend 10 minutes creating a detailed checklist, and spend another few minutes marking the smaller tasks you know will absolutely get done in a few hours. This gives you some sense of accomplishment and motivation to work through the rest of your list. Try to also break down more significant tasks into some of the smaller actionable items. The bigger tasks always look daunting, and sometimes you don't want to start them, which is why tackling their pieces (one portion of a large task at a time) might be incredibly helpful.

Stick to your Schedule

Just because you are working from home doesn't mean that you can work at any time of the day. You can be flexible, however, keep in mind the schedule of people in your team. Always make sure you are available for the scheduled calls.

Take meaningful breaks

Try not to go on social media when taking a break. Also, the frequency of break should be such that it's not so quick that it interrupts you when you are finally focused and not too late that you are over exhausted working for long hours.

Finish your day before starting another

Before logging off, organize your desk, clear out things, and choose your clothes for the next day. With all those things done, you leave your "work" space with less stress for what will come tomorrow.

Measuring your productivity

Define your metrics for measuring productivity.

Do you want to measure the time spent on tasks or the number of tasks finished in a day? Each person will have their own set of "Metrics" to work by and measure productivity. Productivity can be measured once you define the criteria. Once the criteria are decided, track time using online tools like "Timely" or "Timing." These apps can help you track time gathering data for you as you work.

After a few days, you can compare your data and change your habits or work ethics accordingly. You can compare your "productive" and "unproductive" days and see the differences. We invite you to share what you learned about what makes you productive and "in the zone" versus unproductive and low. It's a learning curve for all!

Always start with a goal in mind.

What would you like to achieve in a day, in a week, or a month? That will help you evaluate yourself and see what worked and what didn't work for you while working towards that goal. Some of the things that I often use are as follow:

  • Have a real sense of your productivity capacity;
  • Know if you are multitasking or not;
  • Prioritize your tasks;
  • Try to avoid thinking about other tasks when finishing the current task;
  • Avoid using communication apps like slack, emails, texts when you don't need them;
  • Diversify tasks so that you don't get bored of doing similar tasks all day long;
  • Beware of time killers (phone, computer, friends/colleagues, lack of planning);
  • Help your body to help you.

Create a "work" environment

People who work from home often say that they can be more productive working from home because they can choose to have an environment that suits their needs to be productive working. People have the freedom to create a space they like vs. having a typical office and a desk.

What might help?

a. Find a quiet corner in your home space;

b. Declutter your office space, especially your desk;

c. Have a plant or even some fresh flowers nearby to add some color and breath of fresh air to your workspace. This can also help your eyes to take a break from the screen;

d. Get ready in the morning as you would when going to the office. Maybe you don't need a suit or a formal dress, but don't work in pajamas either. Change into fresh clothes and get somewhat ready.

e. Emulate your environment by adding some relaxing music or abstract sounds in the background. You can use apps like Noizio or Noisli, for example.

Some useful apps to work from home

Last but not least, here are some additional resources that I often use to work from home efficiently.

a. Dash: I love Dash for Mac because besides offering an offline library for codes, it helps create any snippet to use in Mac. Also, you can create and combine variables with text. You, too, can create shortcuts for everything.

b. Cold Turkey: This is a fantastic app to block certain websites on your computer.

What is that you learned working from home? What works well for you?

We'd love to learn more about your experience and how you made the best from a situation that is (still) unusual for many. In case you are still grappling, don't hesitate to reach out. Our developers can take off from a plate of any e-commerce manager!

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