Working from home has some unique challenges compared to being in an office. When I worked in the office, I quickly excelled. I became the go-to guy in a just a few months and began making important decisions for development. When I started my remote job, things did not go as well as I expected. Even though I thought I had good self-control, the freedom lead to some bad habits. My productivity suffered and my work tasks started to slip and I began to struggle. After a couple of months of barely getting my work done, I had to sit myself down and set myself straight.
Finding my problems
When you do not have someone looking over your shoulder, it's easy to just do what you want. Bad habits are easy to develop, and they quickly compound on themselves. One of the first things I did was create a list of everything I was doing throughout the day and how long I spent doing it. It did not matter if it was good or bad. I just wanted to have better insight on what I was doing. After a couple of days doing this, it quickly became clear where most of my problems were.
Created a game plan
Now that I know my problems and bad habits, it was time to start doing something about them.
Making all the bad habits difficult to do
I had my personal computer right next to my work computer. This was mixing my personal with work and I would often drift over to my personal computer. First things I did was delete all video games off the computer and just turned it off. Just adding that small amount of resistance kept me more focused on work.
Putting myself in the work mindset
I started waking up earlier so when I walk into my home office, I am wide awake and prepared for work. I started getting dressed like I was going to the office to help put me in the work mindset. First thing walking into my office, I wrote down all the tasks that were assigned to me and all the scheduled meetings for the day. I could then prioritize everything and know what I could and could not complete for the day.
Techniques for staying productive
Being in the work mindset is a nice step for better productivity, but I still wanted to take it to the next level. I started using the Pomodoro time management technique. You set a timer for 50 minutes and work with zero distractions. When the timer went off, you give yourself a 10-minute break. This technique pushed me to be very productive. If I am really into a problem, I will usually continue past the time. Since breaks are just as important for productivity, I make up the time when I finish the task.
Everything is going great
After thinking through all my struggles and executing my plan for productivity, I am now thriving while working from home. I am now the go-to guy on my current team and recently promoted to Senior Software Engineer. My company is currently talking about moving me to team lead role. All it took was a couple of small changes and my productivity went from nothing to being great.