10 Tips for Staying Productive While You’re Working from Home
The transition from working in an office to working from home isn’t as easy as one might imagine, especially if you have never worked remotely. Whether this is your first WFH position, or you already have some experience working from home, you will find that staying productive in an environment that is nothing like your office is one of the biggest challenges of remote work.
Although it may seem easy at first glance, most people will have some trouble adapting and maintaining their productivity levels, especially if it comes as a sudden change. Since the benefits of working from home may be more obvious than the drawbacks, it’s important to know what you can do to make sure you make the most of your working hours.
These are our top 10 tips for staying productive while you’re working from home:
1. Designate a Working Space
Since you won’t be going to your office every day, establishing a working area is one of the first things you should do.
The flexibility it allows for is arguably the main benefit of working from home. Being able to work from any place with an internet connection may tempt you to work literally from your bed. And that’s fine, as long as you are one of the few people who are equally productive no matter where they are.
Most of us, however, would benefit from a designated workspace for two main reasons. Firstly, sitting down at your work desk or stepping inside your office at home will send a signal to your brain that it’s time to focus on work, which will be much easier in a distraction-free environment optimized for working.
Once you are done for the day, leaving your working area will have the opposite effect and help you detach from work. This is equally important in terms of your productivity, as getting some rest and enjoying your free time without work-related issues on your mind will prepare you for the following workday.
2. Maintain Regular Working Hours
The reasoning behind working regular hours despite the flexibility to work whenever you choose to is similar to the previous point. Starting your work at roughly the same time every day will turn into a good habit and help you get into work mode quickly, thus increasing your productivity. Apart from that, having a clear schedule will also let your co-workers, household members, and friends know when you are available to them.
Another beneficial aspect of maintaining regular working hours is knowing when to stop. Since work is always within an arm’s reach, you could find yourself struggling to shift your mental focus to your personal life, which is bound to hurt your productivity in the long run.
3. Make Plans and To-Do Lists
Making a list of tasks for each day is a great way to stay focused on your goals and organize your time.
Time management is not an easy skill to master. Even more so when you have no one but yourself to rely on and are surrounded by distractions and other things you could be doing. Keeping track of your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks can go a long way in helping you stay focused and productive. Besides, striking a completed task from a to-do list is a satisfaction in itself.
4. Stick to Your Routines
Whether aware of it or not, we all have daily routines that we follow either by choice or necessity. Whatever the reasons behind them are, routines (especially morning routines before starting work) are a great way to ease yourself into your working day.
If you have a system that works for you, sticking to it, if possible, will make the transition to working from home much easier and help you stay productive. Otherwise, make a habit of small morning rituals that will serve as a warmup for your workday. The same goes for winding down after work. Maintaining a steady routine will go a long way in helping you start your day productively from the get-go.
5. Take Regular Breaks
Sitting in front of a screen hour upon hour is bound to affect your mental clarity and ability to focus. In addition, the absence of workplace socializing and chats with your co-workers can also contribute to a feeling of dullness. That’s why it’s important to take a break away from the screen from time to time and let your mind wander a bit.
If you can go outside for a short walk to get some fresh air that would be perfect. Otherwise, just stepping away from the screen for a while and staring out of the window or squeezing in some exercise can be very beneficial both in terms of your health and ability to focus. You don’t need to schedule your breaks, instead, whenever you feel your creativity and productivity dropping, get up and do something else for a couple of minutes. You are going to feel much better once you get back to work.
6. Make Sure Your Workspace is Clutter-Free
Keeping your workspace clear and clutter-free will help you remain focused on your task and boost your general productivity.
We’ve already mentioned that distractions can be the number one enemy of every remote worker, and having different non-work related stuff laying around you while you are working won’t help this at all.
This is true not only for your physical but also for your digital workspace. If you don’t have access to a company laptop, many people have found that creating a new work account to use for everything business-related helps them keep their virtual workspace neat and distraction-free.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have anything on your desk, but you should definitely avoid things that could get you thinking about your chores or the things you are looking forward to once your work is done.
7. Maintain Proper Posture
Whether you are working on a sofa or in a chair, proper posture and back support are vital, especially during long workdays. Investing in a quality work chair or using pillows to help maintain proper body alignment will prevent back pain and allow for optimal blood circulation.
You should also try to bring the screen you are working on up to your eye level, as looking at it from an awkward angle will be strenuous both for your eyes and neck. Apart from your posture, try to have everything you need for work within your reach.
8. Spend Some Time Outside
In a situation where you technically don’t need to step outside of your house or flat, it is more important than ever to remind yourself why you should, even if you don’t have to.
Whether or not you like to take your breaks outside, consider incorporating spending some time outdoors into your daily routine or schedule. Some fresh air, physical activity, and greenery will do you more good in terms of getting the creative juices flowing and boosting your concentration and productivity levels than anything else you can do at home.
A short walk in the morning or some exercise after your work hours will both do, as long as they are a safe option.
9. Stay in Touch with Your Co-workers
Working from home means you won’t bump into your co-worker on your way to the watercooler or your coffee break. While you probably have organized video meetings with your team, you are still missing out on the casual chat and other informal conversations with your colleagues.
Staying in touch under these circumstances will require some effort, however, talking with people from the office and exchanging ideas can be beneficial for more than one reason. Apart from keeping up with everybody, communicating regularly with your co-workers will also help them stay informed on your plans and schedule. Equip your digital office with the right software, or simply use your phone to stay up-to-date with everything that goes on at your company.
10. Log off at the End of the Day
Setting boundaries and learning how to shift your thoughts away from work once you are done for the day is crucial for a healthy work-life balance when working from home.
We all need our rest (both physical and mental) in order to stay productive day after day. When working at an office, once you’ve finished or your eight hours are up, you step outside and leave everything there for tomorrow. This doesn’t quite work when your office is at home, though.
With your work available to you at all times, it can be hard to detach yourself completely and focus on other things in your life. We’ve already mentioned some tricks you can use to simulate the effect of entering or leaving a physical office, but it is also important to make yourself unavailable for work.
Work hard and do your best during your working hours, however, when the time comes, close all work-related tabs and windows, or better yet, shut down the laptop and forget about work for the day. After all, it will all be there tomorrow, and you will be far more efficient if you give yourself enough time to unwind and relax.
Although staying productive while working from home may prove more of a challenge than you expected, it does come with a lot of benefits. On the other hand, you will find that these benefits will require you to show some responsibility and discipline if you are to make the most of them.
Be that as it may, it shouldn’t take too long to get used to and find the optimal way of organizing your work and personal life. Just keep in mind that you will need some time to adapt and find out what works for you.
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