6 Tips To Stay Productive While Working From Home
Working from home is amazing because it grants you the ability to create your ideal lifestyle. If you’re self-employed or have your own business, you get to structure your schedule around business and personal tasks, you work on your own terms, and you report to yourself. Even better, you get to work on things you actually love. If you have an employer but you are allowed to work from home either part- or full-time, you no longer need to commute (more time!), you have more control over your schedule, and your scope of work probably allows you to work pretty independently. All of which is awesome.
Whether you have been working from home for a while or are about to transition into a more flexible role, you’ve come here looking for tips to be more productive.
Well, I’ve been self-employed and have worked from home full-time since 2014. I’ve tried renting office space, I’ve cafe-hopped, and I’ve taken advantage of free co-workspace in my city. But, most often, I find myself at home.
While I am not always the most productive person in the world, and I can’t claim to heed my own advice all the time, I do get a lot done. In fact, in addition to being a full-time digital marketing contractor, I also run this very blog and online store (KFK Creative + my Etsy storefront), and own and manage three other blogs. I guess I have to be a bit productive to do all that, right?
So, I’m here to tell you all the ways you can make the most of your work from home situation. Let’s kick it.
how to stay productive when working from home:
It’s true that working from home is not for everyone. The human interaction, the ability to get out of the house 5 out of 7 days in a week, the natural productivity that comes with an office environment – some people just need to physically go to work. However, working at home isn’t half bad if you treat it the right way.
Here are 6 of my favorite ways to boost productivity from the comfort of your own home:
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
The first and possibly the most important step in working from home is to have a dedicated workspace. Although it’s tempting to lounge in bed or on the couch, you won’t be setting yourself up for a productive day if you’re too comfortable. An at-home office is obviously ideal, but this isn’t practical for everyone (myself included!). If you don’t have a spare room or half bedroom that can double as an office, find a desk or table where you can work without distraction. For me, personally, this means a big desk facing a clean wall. However, a dining room table will suffice as a temporary option.
You want to feel as much like you are “at work” as you can.
It can be really difficult to distance yourself from the comforts of your own home if you aren’t accustomed to it being a place of productivity. Home is where you eat, sleep, and relax at the end of the day. So, it should come as no surprise that the pure nature of being at home can be one of the biggest distractions itself.
A designated workspace will take your productivity to the next level. Not only will it keep you focused and away from the distractions, but you will be more motivated and organized.
Find a quiet corner that you can call your own. Here, you can leave your laptop, your gadgets, your planner, and any other office supplies rather than moving them around your house with you, or having to put them away at the end of the day. Make sure the space is clutter-free, has plenty of good light, and is void of those household distractions like laundry, dishes, and other chores. They can wait!
2. Pretend You Are Going to Work
I know, I know. You’re working from home, so a big tee-shirt and leggings sound so appealing! But trust me, you won’t be all in.
Starting your daily routine just as you would if you were going to your office is crucial. Productivity starts with your mindset, and when you are focused on success straight out the gate, you will naturally get more done.
- Set your alarm and wake when you normally would. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you get to be leisurely. This isn’t a vacation day! While you are allowed to sneak in an extra 20 minutes of sleep here and there (since hey, no commute!), don’t roll out of bed minutes before your day is supposed to start. Trust me, you don’t want to sound like you just woke up when you dial in for your 8AM meeting.
- Dress for the day. Have you ever noticed that you are way more productive when you have your work clothes on? Take a shower, do your normal routine, and dress in clean clothes before sitting down for the day. If you don’t feel like throwing on your high heels, fine. But at least dress in such a way that if you had to run out to an unexpected meeting, all you’d need to do is throw on some shoes. You don’t want to get caught up in your work and find that half the day has passed and you’re still unshowered and in your pajamas.
3. Create A Daily Plan
Starting your day with a plan is just as important as pretending you’re going to work. What would your day look like if you went to the office? What tasks would you tackle first, how long would you spend on them, and what time would you break for lunch?
While you’re obviously going to need to make trips to the bathroom, and duh, you gotta eat and stay hydrated, you will have a more productive day if you follow an agenda.
My favorite way to tackle my day is to make lists and mark my deadlines in my digital and physical planners so I know what needs to happen and when. I use all of the resources at my disposal so that when it comes time to boot up my laptop, I’m not browsing social media aimlessly – I’m getting shit done!
There should be no question of what’s on your hit list. Review your to-dos at the end of each day to ensure that you got at least the most priority items done, and create your list of to-dos in advance of your next workday so you aren’t confused. Learn to time-block, allocating set hours per item, and once time is up, move onto the next one.
Don’t forget to account for breaks.
4. Get the Right Equipment
What’s the right equipment? Well, that’s entirely contingent on how you are used to working and what your job requires.
For example, if you are used to working with a mouse rather than a trackpad, dual monitors rather than one screen, and a Bluetooth headset over a regular cellphone, invest in the things you need. If you only work from home on occasion, you may prefer to just deal with the flaws, but if you plan on being remote at least once a week… it’ll be worth it.
It’s important to have the right equipment because the wrong equipment can kill productivity. It’ll slow you down and make you inefficient. I’ll be the first to admit that I get a fraction of my work done when I’m working with just my laptop, versus when I have my external monitor connected and my mouse.
If you’re lucky, your employer may provide the equipment or the budget for it.
5. Stay Connected With Your COLLEAGUES
When you’re used to simply dropping by your peers’ desks when you need to get some questions answered, it can be a bit of a challenge to get used to virtual-only communication. Fortunately, there are countless online communication tools available that make remote contact totally easy.
Some popular tools include:
- Google Hangouts/Chat
- Microsoft Teams
Slack is one of my all-time favorite tools due to its multi-“room” capabilities. You can set up chatrooms for any topic you want so important thoughts don’t get lost in water bubbler conversation. You can even make calls, transfer files and photos, and it is easily integrated with several other crucial office tools. Zoom is another top tool, which allows for easy video and voice conferencing when you’ve got several teammates working remotely.
6. Log Your Time
No matter how hard you work to avoid the at-home distractions, your work behaviors will, inevitably, be a bit different than if you were in an office environment. So even if you aren’t billing hourly, it’s helpful to keep track of your time when you work from home – more for your own awareness than anything else.
If you are a freelancer, then you know as well as I that time is money. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. And proper time management and billing are virtually impossible if you don’t have a clue how much time you dedicate to each task. Knowing where your time is going is a powerful thing that will enable you to boost your efficiency and gain time in other areas.
At least, in the beginning, keep track of what you are working on, when, and how long it takes you. This will give you a good idea of your time distribution. You can adopt one of the many online tools at your disposal or simply use a spreadsheet or the timer on your phone. At the end of each week, review your productivity so you know what areas you can improve on next week.