How satisfied are you with your work from home productivity? Is it as you expected it to be?
Most people find out it’s actually not that idyllic and easy to work from home. There is no one ‘checking’ you and there are different and perhaps more distractions.
If you’ve been working from home recently because of the pandemic, you might even have a harder time adjusting than when it would have been an intentional choice.
In this post, you will find 7 work from home productivity tips that I’ve gathered from professionals. I have implemented the tips myself for the last few months. Although it’s hard to stick to it sometimes, they definitely help boost your productivity.
Find more productivity tips and other things you want to know about working from home in the FREE eBook Working from home: A guide to your productivity and office essentials.
Let’s dig in and get productive!
1. Set up a structure
Help yourself to be clear about when you’re at work and when your time off is by setting up a structure.
Set scheduled work times around your most productive times. You could still roughly follow ‘normal’ office hours. Or perhaps start early in the morning and finish off early afternoon.
If you’re temporarily working from home because of COVID-19, you will most likely need to stick to your regular working hours. But you could negotiate for other work hours if that works better for your situation.
Set fixed times for your breaks or have rules for yourself about how often (and how long!) you can take a break. Since no one will be watching you, it’s easy to lose yourself and be away from your work for too long.
It’s hard to be productive when you work from home when others keep interrupting you. Be clear about your work schedule to your partner/kids/roommates, friends and family.
People often think you’re ‘free’ all day because you’re at home but explain to them that you’re working and not available during certain hours.
Write your schedule down so it’s clear to yourself as well. You could do this in a digital calendar or on paper. Get your FREE printable planner pack here below!
2. Create routines to maximize efficiency
Having routines maximizes your efficiency because you don’t have to think about certain steps. This can help your work from home productivity in several ways.
Morning routines are known to kick-start productivity and creativity for the day. But you can also create routines for other parts of your day.
In your morning routine, you should include to freshen up and get dressed for the day! This will automatically make you feel more productive.
You could have a routine to start-up your workday as well as a wind-down.
In a start-up routine, you could include, for example:
- set your priority tasks for the day
- go through your email
- do a recurring daily task
It will differ per job what it’s useful for you to do.
A wind-down routine could be to write down any unfinished tasks, clear your workspace and turn off your computer.
Usually, there is a commute between home and your workplace, which is a great moment to transition from being ‘on’ to ‘off’. You can recreate this by taking a walk at the end of the day.
3. Have a dedicated workspace
Our brains can be conditioned pretty easily with structures and routines. Having a dedicated workspace lets your mind know it’s time to work when you’re in your workspace.
In an office, you know that you’re supposed to work when you’re at your desk. The same can be done at home to boost your work from home productivity.
If you have an extra room to turn into a home office or study, that’s one of the best work from home productivity tips. You can seclude yourself there, close the door and focus.
If you don’t have the luxury of an extra room, you can install a desk in one of your other rooms. Preferably not your bedroom as this can give wrong signals to your brain: you could either get sleepy during work or can’t fall asleep in your office bedroom.
You might not have space for an extra desk – living in Hong Kong, I know how small apartments can be! In that case, you can use your kitchen table or another eating spot.
Be sure to distinguish clearly between eating and working by taking off all of your work stuff from the table when you’re not at work.
Make sure your workspace is ergonomically comfortable to prevent pains from bad posture and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
Learn more about ergonomics and how to set up your home workspace in the free eBook Working from home: A guide to your productivity and office essentials.
4. Stay connected with people
Working from home can be lonely and it’s easy to not see any other people besides perhaps your family.
Therefore, it’s important to stay in touch with colleagues or peers and share your experiences, as you would in a regular office.
If you’re at home because of COVID-19, make sure you remain in touch with your colleagues and managers. This also helps to manage any expectations from both your side and the managers’ side.
Let your manager know if you struggle with anything so you can come to a solution together, instead of letting it become a problem your company will find out about afterwards.
I heard some organizations have set up ‘watercooler’ group chats to have those types of social conversations you would have around the watercooler or in the office’s pantry.
If you’re a solopreneur, you can take this idea and organize a (digital) group of peers to stay connected and motivate each other.
You could switch up some days and work in a cafe for a few hours or go to a co-working space.
5. Get outside at least once a day
Fresh air and some movement can do so much good for your mental and physical health. And when you’re in good health, you’re better able to focus and be productive.
Getting outside reliefs you from sitting at a desk all day and staring at a screen. Your body needs movement; otherwise, it will get too stiff. Your eyes need relief from looking at a screen by looking at things from a distance.
You can take the opportunity to walk around, listening to a podcast. Or even better, allow your brain to reset and think freely by walking/jogging/cycling without listening to anything.
This will boost your creativity and problem-solving abilities.
You can start the day by going for an early morning walk, wind down after your day, or in the afternoon to combat the after lunch dip!
6. Don’t let your phone distract you
Some days I’m very disciplined or simply too busy to check my phone. Other days it’s my perfect procrastination tool and I find myself wasting way too much time on social media or mobile games…
For many of us, our phone is a constant distraction, whether by receiving notifications or unconsciously opening apps and losing ourselves in it.
If you need your phone during work, delete any distracting apps during your working hours. I do this often with Instagram. It’s easy to re-install if I want to.
Your phone probably also has settings to put a time limit on apps. On iPhones you can find these here:
Settings > Screen Time > App Limits
Or you can set up Downtime on your iPhone. Only apps that you choose to allow and phone calls will be available between set hours and days.
The above might not work optimally for you. You can always leave your phone in another room or simply turn it off.
Remember, you don’t have to answer text messages immediately or react to your phone notifications right away. Give yourself a few hours of freedom and focus, so you can work productively.
7. Turn on music
Music makes you more productive, as it improves your focus. When you’re listening to music, a chemical dopamine is released that lowers stress and anxiety and makes you feel good.
However, it’s best not to listen to music with lyrics, no matter the task at hand. Several studies have shown that students perform better on tests when listening to classical music.
You can search Spotify, Youtube, or any other music service for classical music, meditation music, electronic music or nature sounds.
Turning on music is also another trick to let your brain know you are now in working mode. It’s also a good way to make others at home know that they can’t distract you – which is even clearer if you put on a headset.
There is a construction site next to our apartment tower, which can be annoying at times. With my Bose noise-canceling headset, I can drown out all of those noises and listen to relaxing music to focus.
Let’s get started to boost your work from home productivity
I hope these 7 tips for work from home productivity will help you, whether you have chosen to work from home or you have to because of COVID-19.
One of the most important tips I can give you regarding working from home is treating it as seriously as working in an office.
When you combine that seriousness with productivity and efficiency, working from home can give you a lot of freedom!
Find more tips in my free eBook Working from home: A guide to your productivity and office essentials – get it now!