How to Stay Productive Working from Home |

How to Stay Productive Working from Home

As someone who spent their senior year of college doing online classes, starting a business 5 years ago from my home, and working a health IT job with remote access, I realized that I might know what I am talking about when it comes to staying productive and working from home. It can definitely be a challenge with the added distractions and relying on self discipline to get your work done. But over the years, I have found some tried and true tricks to ensure that I am getting everything done that I need to- and not stretching 8 hours of work into 12. Here are some habits and routines I’ve developed to stay productive while working from home.

Create a morning routine

This is a must. I tried to get by without this for a long time. Do what you have to do to feel ready to work- coffee, yoga, meditation, shower, etc. Have a set routine and a start time to work. Treat this routine as a non-negotiable. I also recommend getting ready for work as you normally would. Take a shower, get dressed, and get into the groove of your work day from jump.

Set hours

Setting work hours will help you keep your work day limited to eight hours (or whatever you typically work). If you don’t have set hours, you’ll likely find yourself working off and on all day long and probably only getting a little over half of your work done. Remember that you are committed to your work during these hours, but once you are done you get to start your evening. This is not only the best way to stay productive, but also maintain a work/life balance.

Have a clean, dedicated work space

When I first started working from home, I bragged that I could essentially work wherever I wanted. I tried working on the couch, in front of the TV. I tried working in the kitchen. I even tried working on the deck facing my dad’s pond on warm spring days. And while the change of scenery was good for my creativity occasionally, my productivity suffered. All of these places had so many distractions. Even the kitchen. All I could think about were the dirty dishes in the sink. And then all I could think about was what I was going to make for dinner. Next thing I knew I was at the grocery store. Dedicate a spot for your work. A spare bedroom, an office, whatever works for you. Make sure that your work space is clean so you can focus solely on what you are doing. Another benefit to having a dedicated work space is that your family knows that when you’re there, you aren’t to be interrupted. Those boundaries are crucial when you may have kids home from school.

Time block

Time blocking has increased my productivity over 100%. Seriously. You can’t afford to not do this. Rather than spending my day bouncing from one task to the next without really considering what needed to be prioritized, I would get distracted or end up spending a huge chunk of my time on things that didn’t really matter. Now, the night before (or sometimes at the beginning of the week), I’ll make a list of what I need to accomplish. I consider how much time it will take to complete each task. I prioritize my tasks. I make sure to complete the most important/hardest tasks first thing in the morning so that the rest of the day is a breeze. Here’s what my time blocking looks like:

Take breaks

You take breaks at the office, right? Hopefully your boss encourages them because breaks have been proven to increase productivity. Schedule these into your day, even when you’re working from home. Make sure you set a time limit on each break and ACTUALLY TAKE YOUR BREAK. Grab some coffee, do some light yoga, read for leisure- whatever helps relax you. And then get back to it.

Limit distractions

What distracts you? Messes? Laundry piling up? Your kids? If you were at the office right now, you would be working and not worrying about all of this. So how do we get back into that mindset? Remember, just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean that you turned into a super hero overnight and are now a stay-at-home parent/full time employee/full time maid/etc. There aren’t any additional hours in the day just because you are now home. So limit those distractions. Tell your family how important it is not to be interrupted when you are working. Let them know what your schedule is. Leave the laundry alone until your working hours are over. I personally get extremely distracted by social media so I have a few tricks to limit this. When I am doing tasks that don’t require the internet (like editing or writing this blog), I turn the wifi off on my computer. I delete social media apps from my phone regularly so I’m not tempted (don’t worry- you can easily download them from the cloud just as quickly as you deleted them). Or I put my phone on airplane mode and disconnect from wifi. Know what your distractions are and come up with a plan to limit them.

Working from home can be great. You get to wear whatever you want, pet your dogs throughout the day, and eat the food you already have in your fridge (instead of ordering food for lunch everyday- or maybe that was just my problem). But it definitely comes with it’s challenges as well. I hope that these tips help you to stay positive and productive while most of the country is social distancing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus and make it that much easier to continue on with regular life after all of this passes.

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