Working from home sounds like a dream come true for many people, but it can be hard to stay productive at home. When I started working from home a couple of years ago, I remember questioning myself if it was the right decision at first. I often found myself unmotivated, feeling lonely and unproductive. When your working space is just a few meters away from your bedroom and kitchen, it can be difficult to find a balance between work and leisure times. After some time, I was finally able to create my perfect working from home routine that helps me stay productive. And in this post, I’m sharing some tips that helped me.
10 Ways To Be Productive When Working From Home
1. Establish your morning routine.
Now that you don’t have to commute to the office anymore, you get some extra free time in the morning. Think about the best way to use it. Maybe use this time to sleep a bit longer if it makes you feel fresher in the morning. Or do some of your homework tasks in the morning like cleaning your house or cooking lunch/dinner in advance. Exercising in the morning is also a great idea, it can help you to focus better when you start working. Whatever you choose to do, having some kind of morning routine helps your mind to create a clear distinction between work and free time.
2. Get dressed up and ready for the day.
This is very individual – what makes each of us feel “ready” for work can be very different. Maybe you just need to take a shower and change into comfortable clothes – and you feel mentally ready to work. Or maybe you need to put makeup and do your hair to feel like you are ready. For me, I kinda pretend that I’m leaving the house for work – so I change into the clothes that I would wear outside, apply some natural makeup and spray perfume – this makes me feel good and motivated to start working. It doesn’t matter that no one else will see you – you can see yourself in the mirror, and if the way you look makes you feel good – that’s the whole point.
When it comes to clothes to wear when you work from home, it makes sense to wear something comfy, so do it if it feels right for you. For me, I like wearing slightly uncomfortable outfits. It helps me not to feel too relaxed like I’m just chilling at home. I like to wear fitted clothes, this way I also remember to keep a good posture and not hunch in front of the computer. My husband even puts his shoes on when he works from home. It’s a good mind trick – think about it, we usually wear shoes when we leave the house – so you are giving your mind a signal that you are leaving your home space and entering the work mode.
3. Have a designated workspace.
Ideally, you should have a desk where you can keep all the things you need for work, but this can be tricky if you live in a small space. I still don’t have an office space in my apartment, so I came up with something I call “a mobile office”. I got a box where I keep all the things I need for work like my laptop, notebooks, pens, chargers, etc. And I carry it around depending on where I work – sometimes it’s a kitchen table, sometimes a couch (yes, I work from couch sometimes :D), and sometimes I just like to sit on the floor and stretch while I’m doing some easy work.
If you can find one space in your house to use for work during the day, set up your work station in the morning and clear it up after the workday is over. This way you are also setting the limit between working hours and leisure time. If you have a designated office space at home, make sure to keep it clean and tidy – it’s way easier to focus on your work when your workplace is neat.
4. Have a to-do list.
Writing a to-do list is a basic productivity technic. It helps to have your main tasks for the day/week written down, so your mind can focus on doing work instead of trying to remember what to do. I like to write a to-do list every morning with my work and homework related tasks. Then break my homework into small 5-15 min tasks that I can do when I take breaks from work. This brings me to the next point.
5. Take breaks.
People working in the office have coffee breaks and lunch breaks, so why you shouldn’t have it at home? Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and take time to drink and enjoy it instead of sipping it while you work. Or use a short break to finish one of your cleaning tasks. Or do some light stretching. Take time to eat proper lunch, whether at home or outside. Whenever I have a chance, I like to meet up with friends for lunch or coffee during the week. Working from home can feel lonely, so spending some time with friends can keep you more motivated and happy.
If you always forget to take breaks, set an alarm to remind you at least every 40-60 mins. Taking breaks might feel counterproductive, but it actually helps your mind to rest a bit and start working again with new energy.
6. Be strategic about the order you do your tasks.
There is a famous “eat your frog first thing in the morning” strategy. You have to do the thing that you are dreading or putting off the most as your first task. Then you can continue working knowing that you’ve done the worst thing already. This strategy works great for many people, as it gives you a relief after you “eat your frog” and can help you be more productive throughout the rest of the day.
However, if you are especially good and procrastinating like me, and it requires a lot of mental energy to push yourself to do these tasks you are putting off, this strategy might do more harm than good. So you can try a different approach – start your day with the task that you like and feel motivated to complete. I find that doing the thing I love brings me in a state of flow and once that task is completed, I just keep working on the next ones without procrastinating.
7. Plan your day according to your energy level.
Another way I like to plan my day is according to my energy levels. If you know yourself well, you probably noticed already what time of the day you are being the most productive. Many people experience a midday or afternoon dump in energy. You might feel sleepy around this time and feel like taking a nap. And you know what – why not? You have this luxury when you work from home. If you wake up very early every day, a short nap might be exactly what you need to stay energetic throughout the rest of the day. Just make sure you don’t nap for too long and late in the day – so you don’t have trouble falling asleep at night.
If you don’t want to take a nap – try to use this time for some physical activity – a walk outside or something productive like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc. I often do a longer yoga session in the afternoon – I feel like the body starts craving movement after a few hours of sitting. Even if you don’t do a workout, I feel like spending this time doing some physical activity allows your mind to get a little distracted and have some rest before you come back to work.
8. Set clear boundaries between work and leisure time. Or not.
You probably heard this advice before – you need to have clear boundaries between work and free time. It’s pretty easy if you work in the office. When you work from home, you can still do it buy switching your notifications when your work time is over, not checking your emails, hiding your laptop away when the work is done.
I, however, found, that not putting these strict restrictions makes me way more productive. I still follow some rules – like not checking my phone before 8 am and after 10 pm. But there are some work tasks that I don’t mind doing after dinner sometimes when official “work time” is over. Things like editing videos, making thumbnails and Pinterest pins don’t require too much brain work, so I don’t mind spending an hour or two more if I have nothing else to do. I might also do some work on the weekend if I have extra time.
The good thing about working from home is that you have more freedom to use your time as it fits you better . Important here is, of course, to make sure that you don’t feel overwhelmed like you are working all the time. You need to take proper rest as well.
9. Work hard, play hard.
When you go to the office, coming back home, where you can finally relax after work can feel so great. When you work from home, you don’t always get the same sense of relief when you are done with work. For some people, staying at home all day might feel just fine, but I start feeling weird when I spend too much time at home. Like I’m stuck at home and my life is boring and other unproductive thoughts. So I like to reward myself for working hard by going out with my family or friends during the week or taking evening yoga classes. I like dinner dates during the week because it’s a good chance to leave the house in the evening. But a simple walk outside in the evening works just as good.
Depending on your preferences you can choose to work or not work on the weekends. If you don’t work, spend the weekends doing something you enjoy, meeting up with people you like. If you still work at the weekends, still try to do something different, so that every day doesn’t feel the same.
10. Avoid distractions.
Sometimes it’s hard to resist checking social media and news on your phone or computer between doing the work. And it’s double that hard to do when you are working from home and there is no one to control you. Learning to avoid distractions takes time, but it’s doable. It all comes to a habit, and habits are something you can change. I learned to deal with phone distraction in a few steps:
- Realize how much time you are wasting (iPhone has a feature that shows you how much time you spend on different apps and how often you pick up your phone during the day).
- Turn off notifications on your phone and even your wifi if it’s not essential to your work. At first, you might still have the urge to pick up your phone but it will get better over time. When notifications are turned off and you are concentrated on your work, you will have no reason to look at your phone
- You can check your phone during the breaks. If you like social media, you can make it feel like a reward – allow yourself to scroll your Instagram during the break but make sure to keep it short – 5-10 minutes maximum.
This was a long post and I hope you discovered some tips that will help you to be more productive working from home. If you have some other ideas, please leave them in the comments and let’s help each other to stay productive at home!