If you work in a busy office with noisy colleagues and frequent interruptions, then you may see working from home – in relative peace and quiet – as a blissful alternative.
However, if you work from home, you’ll also know that working in a familiar environment will present its own distractions. Distractions which may mean that sometimes you’re not as productive as you’d like to be.
Dr B.J Fogg, a behavioural psychologist, suggests that one way to radically change your [unproductive] behaviour is to change your environment.
While traditional, office-based workers have limited options on that front, home-based workers, like you, have the freedom to make changes to the work space.
The changes you make should align your working environment with your basic, primal needs as a human being.
This is because our caveman-esque instincts are often the reason why we behave in certain ways and are often the root cause of our productivity issues.
If you (and your remote team) understand your primal needs and adjust your home-work environment to meet these needs, then you will likely become more productive.
Primal need 1) To compartmentalise
Compartmentalising is the dividing of something into categories.
Emotional compartmentalisation (EC) is an evolutionary defence mechanism that humans use in survival situations.
It involves an individual separating one thought from another to allow them to focus on a task.
“When … under attack, or in a survival situation, we have the ability to keep our cool and think clearly about what needs to be done. By compartmentalising emotions, outside stimulus, relationships, and more, we can pull in just the facts that matter to the issue at hand.”
But people don’t just use EC in survival situations; they use it in their day-to-day lives as well.
In the modern workplace many of us try to separate the ‘work’ and ‘life’ facets of our lives.
Why? When our ‘personal’ identity or ‘work’ identity interferes with another aspect of our lives, it can be distracting and even damaging.
Being an anywhere worker, you’ll likely find separating ‘work’ and ‘life’ particularly challenging.When you work from home, you have to work in an environment which you associate with rest and sociability. Switching off from this ‘personal’ environment and focusing on a work-related task can be challenging.
So, how do you compartmentalise more effectively and increase your productivity at home?
Start by compartmentalising physically; by categorising the different areas of your house.
In our homes, we associate different rooms with different words or functions. The bedroom is for sleeping. The lounge is for socialising. The kitchen is for cooking and eating.
We struggle to work in these rooms because we associate them with an activity other than work. And struggling against these associations can be distracting.
So, as far as is possible, create a dedicated ‘work’ space in your house; a home-office room, or even a workstation that is only for work.
By physically and emotionally compartmentalising rooms in the house for ‘play’ and ‘work’; you can switch off from one aspect of your life and focus on another.
This way, you can literally shut the door to your ‘work’ life at the end of the day and experience the personal aspect of your life without distraction.
Clearly, compartmentalisation is not just a primal survival tactic but a tactic to enhance enhance quality of life, too.