Working from home is nice in theory, but can also be a real challenge - you are so close to distractions and your routine is completely different. And with countries and cities getting locked down to contain the global pandemic, Covid-19, many more people have to work from home nowadays. So I’ve decided to share some battle-tested tips on how you can be productive working from home despite the proximity to all of those distractions.
I’ve worked from home for years now, ranging from occasional - for example when I worked at Google and had a knee surgery, but didn’t want to take a medical leave, to full-time like now, when I’m running my business. I’ve learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t, which I want to share with you right now.
I’ve also created a list of Free Work From Home Tools and Resources - it’s an awesome collection of resources that will keep you more productive and focused. Get it below:
Alright, without further ado, let’s get into my productivity tips!
1. Create a workspace
When you’re at home, in a place where you’re used to relaxing, it is harder to get into a proper “work” mode. However, if you create a workspace for yourself that’s specifically dedicated to working, you can overcome that. This space should be different than your “play” or relaxation area so that your brain understands that distinction.
Ideally, get a desk or a table - which you can put anywhere your space allows you to. There are certain things you can do to optimise your workspace for productivity too - which I’ve shared in a different blog post already.
2. Get dressed in real clothes
This is a tip that I’ve picked up from successful work-from-home entrepreneurs. You need to get yourself in the working mood and getting ready for the day is the best way to do it! Now, you don’t have to dress up and wear a suit, you can be casual. Jeans and a t-shirt or a jumper are the perfect way to go. Yes, you can also wear yoga pants - as long as you get out of your pyjamas!
3. Stick to a routine
Start working early and set a work routine. You can mimic the one you had at the office - setting a lunch and coffee breaks roughly at the same time when you would at the office too. It’s also a very good idea to create a morning routine that will set you up for success and put you in a productive mood.
You can use a technique called time blocking to plan out your days and block time for certain activities to stay on track.
4. Set expectations
This goes for both: your team (about how you work best under these conditions, what you will be working on, how to best get in touch of you and when etc.) and for those who are in the same household as you - so that they know not to distract you.
Since expectations go both ways, ask all of those people what you should expect from them too!
5. Communicate with the team
When you’re working remotely it’s easy to have miscommunications or for things to fall in through the cracks. So the golden rule here is: over-communicate not to under-communicate. There are so many tools for team communication that you have no excuses not to! I’ll list some of the most popular free tools in my list of Free Work From Home Tools and Resources, so make sure you get it!
6. Plan out your work and goals
This is very important, just like at the office - but even more so because you are at home and are so much more prone to distractions. I try to plan my goals and tasks for the day the night before, which helps me stay focused when I start the next day - without scrambling, trying to think of what I may have missed.
7. Lump calls and meetings together
I think this is a general productivity tip as well, but it’s so important. This allows you to create space for creative and deep work without interruptions. Again, you can use time blocking techniques to do that.
If you have recurring meetings - plan your other calls around them. I try to lump all of my meetings into 2 days every week so that the remaining time is spent on productive work.
8. Block distracting websites
Do you find yourself drifting over towards social media or any other distracting websites? There are free tools that will help you temporarily block those websites for yourself. Take advantage of those when you don’t have social pressure to keep you off those sites.
Again, I’ll list some great tools in the list!
9. Take breaks
It is so important to take breaks! Yes, you are at home, but you are still working. So set breaks on your calendar or use a work timer - I use Marinara timer a lot with custom work/break time settings: 52 mins to 17 mins because I’ve heard that this is the most productive ratio of work to break time.
Since your commute is now non-existent and your kitchen is probably closer than your office coffee source, you are probably getting even less movement. It is important, however, to keep moving and do regular exercise - to keep you healthy and productive.
Experts recommend taking breaks from sitting down every 30 minutes and move around. Research shows that these short active breaks can help improve your mood, decrease the signs of fatigue, affect your appetite, and positively impact your productivity: being active means your circulation improves and consequently more oxygen is fed into your brain — win-win!
If you can go outside, go for a walk or a run. Otherwise, try to move at home - I used to dance in my bedroom to get in some cardio and there are a ton of exercise apps and YouTube videos that you can use to workout at home. I’ll link some of my favourites in the list of Free Work From Home Tools and Resources
11. Prepare your meals ahead of time
Since you don’t have to bring your lunch to work, you’re very likely not to prepare it ahead of time. Don’t be fooled though, this is a serious time-suck! Try to plan and prep your meals ahead of time, just as if you were working from the office.
12. Create boundaries
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to work non-stop. Boundaries between work and leisure blur very easily - this is something that I struggle with all the time!
Make sure you create boundaries for yourself and know when it’s time to work and when it’s time to relax.
13. Get some natural light
Studies show that sunlight positively affects productivity by helping your brain and your body synchronize, therefore affecting your circadian rhythm; having them in sync helps you sleep better, and therefore makes you more alert, productive, and happy.
Get outside every day if you can - and if that’s not an option, spend time in front of a window with natural light. If your workspace could be next to a window that would be ideal!
14. Connect with humans virtually
And finally, if you’re not able to see other people, connect with your friends virtually. Human connection is so important and in times when we have to work from home or have to self-isolate, it’s even more important to proactively create space for it.
I hope those were useful! Make sure you get my list of Free Work From Home Tools and Resources, you can do that below:
Let me know which tips you found the most useful in the comments and share this post with your friends who are also working from home these days.