Top Ways Researchers Can Maintain Productivity by Working Remotely

By Kayla Matthews
Published 05/01/2020
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For some, productivity is always a challenge. However, when you transition into remote work, staying productive can be an even more significant hurdle. If you want to maintain productivity while working from home, you need to follow a few steps.

Whether you’re a student, researcher or any other kind of academic, staying productive is essential. To stay on top of your work while working from home, adhere to these seven guidelines.

1. Create and Follow a Schedule

You’ll have an easier time getting work done if you have a schedule to follow. Create a list of everything you need to do and organize it according to each item’s urgency. This practice applies both to daily and long-term goals, so you may want to create several schedules.

Your schedules should be granular. Plan a specific time for mundane tasks like checking emails. If you don’t assign these items to a particular time slot, they can easily take away from your productivity.

2. Set SMART Goals

With your schedule, set goals to pursue. When setting these objectives, remember to make them SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. If your goals don’t meet these five criteria, they won’t be of much use to you.

Even if a goal is specific, it’s not likely to motivate you unless it’s also actionable, according to the University of Zurich. Established goals can have a significant impact on productivity for researchers, but only if they meet all the SMART criteria.

3. Remove Distractions

Researchers at UC Irvine found that just 20 minutes of uninterrupted work can affect your productivity and stress. Since remote work often means dealing with more distractions, this can be an issue when working from home. The best solution is to remove distractions entirely.

Silence your phone and keep it in your pocket or a drawer. Mute emails and only look at them during your scheduled email time. It’s easier to eliminate distractions than to work around them.

4. Take Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to take breaks to stay productive. Now and then, you should leave your desk to walk around, stretch or go outside. This practice will make sure you don’t feel burnt out.

You should consider including breaks in your daily schedule. Work for a set amount of time before taking a five-minute break. Scheduling rest time will help you make sure it doesn’t disrupt your work.

5. Automate as Much as Possible

You can, and should, use technology to automate some tasks. Things like organization and writing citations take up more time than you may think. If you use software to do these things for you, you don’t have to worry about their time consumption.

You lose almost 40% of productivity from unorganized task switching. If you use a program to handle this one process for you, you’re already 40% more productive.

6. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Automation isn’t the only advantage technology can offer you. You can find plenty of software and hardware solutions that will help you boost productivity. These resources are readily available, so why not take advantage of them?

Using two monitors is an excellent example of using technology to this end. One study found that workers using dual monitors completed tasks more than two minutes before those who didn’t. When you’re working all day, these minutes add up.

7. Reward Productivity

Rewarding yourself is a commonly-overlooked aspect of research productivity. If you give yourself small rewards for achieving productivity goals, you’ll be more inclined to meet those goals again. A reward system turns work into a kind of game, which can improve productivity.

A 2018 study found that gamification improved student’s research and study strategies. Whether consciously or subconsciously, rewards entice you to achieve higher levels of performance.

Adapting to Remote Work and Boosting Productivity

Working remotely presents some unique challenges for researchers and students alike. However, the practices that improve productivity in an office or classroom do the same in a home environment. You can apply all of the above steps to your work in any context, not just remote research.

Working from home emphasizes the importance of these steps. With more distractions and an unfamiliar work environment, you need to take productivity more seriously. By following these steps, you’ll find you can maintain the same levels of productivity anywhere.

Kayla Matthews writes about technology, the IoT, FutureTech and big data. Previously, her work has been featured on IoT Times, InformationWeek, The Daily Dot and IBM’s Big Data Hub blog. To read more of Kayla’s work, please follow her personal tech blog at