What to Do If You’re Not as Productive as You Promised

March 13, 2017
Un-productive guy

Switching to working remotely seemed like a fantastic idea. It would be a win-win for everyone. You were so excited by how productive you were going to be without the usual office interruptions – no more pinging of everyone’s phones, no more trying to focus while people talk about the latest episode of Game of Thrones across your desk.

You’d be in control of your own destination (and thermostat – no more wearing 5 layers so you don’t freeze to death before lunchtime) and you dreamt of all the work you could get done now you really had room to spread out.

Unfortunately, reality hit and you began to realize how much time you suddenly spend: (check all that apply)

Check markOn social media

Check mark

Doing laundry or dishes because you now actually have to look at all the chores you haven’t done.

Check markDriving kids around to and from school/appointments/classes/friend’s houses

Check mark

Answering questions from your kids once they get home from school

Check mark

Watching Netflix

or perhaps you’re super-focused but have re-evaluated your life goals and want to spend a decent chunk of time each day on writing that book you always meant to write or finally getting fit.

Whatever the reason, here’s the thing.. This is never going to work out if you over-promise and under-deliver. All those people who were resistant to people working remotely will have their evidence that this is not a good solution for the company. The win-win that you promised begins to look like it’s only a win-lose.

Productivity hacksSo, what to do?


Strategize, Measure, Be Honest, Adjust

  1. If you haven’t already, do some reading about strategies you can use to increase your productivity. Try the Pomodoro Technique or read about The First Four Things You Should Do Every Workday or 44 Productivity Hacks to Turn Procrastination Into Action. At the end of the day, if you feel you have reached your maximum productivity at home and you don’t feel working in the office is a good option for you, then it’s time to own it.
  2. If you haven’t been tracking your time to find out how many productive hours a week you have, you need to do so for a week or two. Tools such as Time Doctor or Timely are great for this.
  3. You need to be honest with your boss (or client). Tell them how many hours a week you are able to be truly productive. Explain that, for these hours, you will be completely focused on their project and will be providing excellent value for money.
  4. If you are paid by the hour, then you should only be expecting to be paid for the number of hours you are productive. You’ll still be retaining the freedom you got from being able to work from home or wherever you choose to work. If you are on a salary, it’s time to suggest that you be paid the proportion of that salary commensurate with the amount you actually work.

If you can strategize, measure, be honest and adjust you can turn this back into a win-win for everyone. You can spend your life getting some great work done and on the other things that fulfill you without that nagging guilt about everything you ‘should’ be doing.

Good luck!

Other great articles and resources:

Having a down day? Just go with the flow…, Unblog, 2017

The Process to Focus – How To Spend Your Time Getting More Done, Workflow Max, 2016

10 Productivity Hacks To Make Your Life Easier, Workflow Max, 2016

The Open Office Trap, The New Yorker, 2014

Workers dissatisfied with open plan offices, University of Sydney, 2013


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