At home there are many distractions, less accountability, and less communication than when you’re working in the office. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still be productive. There are lots of ways to keep yourself working productively from any location.
With that in mind, here are seven suggestions that can help you be more productive while working from home, whether you’re new to remote work or looking for ways to adjust your work-life balance:
1. Designate a specific workspace.
When you’re starting to learn how to work from home, it might be tempting to work from your couch, armchair, or even your bed, but this could take a huge toll on your productivity. One of the best working from home tips is to try to always work from a consistent room, desk, or chair to tell your brain that it’s time for work, not relaxation.
Having a designated spot in your home where you ‘go to work’ can result in less distraction and deeper focus. If you have an actual office in your home, that’s ideal, but since every home is different, you’ll have to make the best use of your available space. Many studies show that having a specific workspace is important to help you focus. Then your brain will associate your bed with sleep, your couch with relaxation, and your desk with work, helping shift your energy levels accordingly.
Also, having a designated workspace means more potential home office deductions, like occupancy and running expenses, at the end of the year – read our blog on home office deductions for more information.
2. Create ‘work’ triggers for your brain
When you work in an office, the daily routine of getting ready and commuting helps your brain get ready for the day. When you’re working remotely, you can create ‘start the day’ triggers that get your head ready for work in a similar way, like exercising, reading the news, or making coffee.
Also, try to avoid distractions: they’re one of the biggest challenges of working remotely. To keep your brain in the right mode, avoid doing non-work tasks during your work time. For example, schedule a separate time to do laundry instead of tackling it while you’re finishing a work presentation.
3. Set ‘office hours’ for yourself
One of the most important things you can do when planning to work from home is to create a regular schedule for yourself. It’s tempting to give yourself total flexibility in your start time, lunch break and finish time, but it’s important to keep your schedule consistent. Setting yourself regular hours keeps you accountable to yourself and to your boss, and enables easy communication with your customers and your team.
The opposite is also true. Habits like sleeping in or playing video games in the middle of the day can snowball and completely erode productivity. Keep the good habits, and don’t let the bad ones start; the key is finding a routine that works for you and keeps you focused.
This also helps you communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you. Make sure any roommates, siblings, parents, and spouses, respect your space during work hours, so you can stay on task, and maybe even finish faster with more time to spend with them later in the day.
4. Work when you’re at your most productive.
Everyone’s motivation naturally ebbs and flows throughout the day. When you’re working from home, it’s all the more important to know when those ebbs and flows will take place and plan your schedule around it.
To capitalise on your most productive periods, save your harder tasks, like big projects, for when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate, like reading and replying to emails. Achieving these smaller tasks can also help build your momentum for the harder projects that are waiting for you later on.
5. Structure your day like you would in the office.
To stay on schedule throughout your workday, segment what you’ll do and when over the course of the day. This might be the first thing you do each morning, or you might find it helpful to take a few minutes before you go to bed the night before to plan your day.
In your planning, consider prioritising the most important tasks first, or when you know your energy will be highest, and be sure to plan rewards and breaks throughout the day to stay motivated. This way, you can always stay focused and will not get distracted easily.
6. Take breaks and go outside.
Breaks are so important for your health, and can also improve your productivity in the long-run. Make sure you get up from your desk during your breaks—get some fresh air, grab a healthy snack, and talk with another human being if you can – video call them if you have to! If you have a dog, make that your excuse to go outside throughout the day. Short breaks every few hours can help increase mental clarity and overall productivity. If going outside isn’t an easy option, even just having your lunch or daydreaming in front of a window can have similar benefits. All of these activities will help you reset, get your blood flowing, and make sure you’re ready to tackle the next chunk of tasks.
7. Customise your environment.
Working from home gives you much more leeway to personalise your workspace in ways that you may not be able to in your corporate office. It can be great fun and a good mental exercise to help you relax into your space. Whether it’s a scented candle, a plant, a particular photo, or all three, customise your work environment with what will help you feel comfortable, focused and motivated throughout the day. These kinds of things can have very positive effects on your emotional well-being.
Shifting your work environment to your home can be challenging, but there are also be many benefits to working from home, like the lack of commute and having more flexibility in you workday. Try try and implement some of these tips and you can still be productive at home – maybe even more so than at the office!