10 quick tips for working from home – productively
So here we are. Your to-do list feels like it’s growing by the hour. But your productivity is sorely lacking. Firstly, try to relax. It’s natural to feel a little disorientated when you’re unaccustomed to working from home. Even the people who do it regularly struggle to find flow sometimes. But with a few practical productivity tips, you can start conquering your challenges and ticking off tasks without breaking stride.
Fortify your focus.
Steel your self-discipline.
Take a look at our ten tips for working from home.
1. Choose a space to work from
Not everyone has the luxury of a home office. But what’s important is that you have a space in your home that you designate as your working area. There are several reasons why working from home can be a struggle. One of the biggest is that your brain simply isn’t conditioned to focusing the way it does at work when you are in your home environment.
Creating boundaries between work and leisure in your abode is an easy win. And you don’t need the square footage of a countryside mansion to make it work. It really can be as simple as sitting on one end of the sofa when you are working, and the opposite end when you are relaxing. Ringfence one or two spaces that you use for work and nothing else. Anything that you can do to tell your brain that it’s work time will help.
2. Set up your workspace
Before embarking on a stint of homeworking, take the time to make sure you have all the tools you need. That means everything from physical stuff like pens, paper and a printer, right through to making sure you have the right software, email tools and cloud infrastructure to access files. Make it easy to do your thing.
3. Try to stick to set hours
Too much freedom can be a bad thing. When you are working from home, it can be hard to be productive because – technically – you can work anytime. If you don’t do it now, there’s always later. Before you know it, you are lost in an hour-long YouTube spiral. Not good.
It’s easier to stay focused when you create a sense of urgency. Try to force yourself to finish work at a certain time. Of course, you may need to mould your hours around childcare responsibilities. (More on that shortly.) But sticking to a set number of hours per day will help to keep you honest. Albeit a little behind on the latest cat memes.
4. Start early
It’s often true that the sooner you start being productive after waking up, the easier it is to stay productive throughout the day. Starting work while it’s quiet, before your inbox becomes a battleground, before your phone starts buzzing every other minute, can be a glorious time for finding focus. Added bonus: you get to finish early.
5. Set small goals
When you switch to working from home, the change of routine can cause inertia. Build momentum by setting small goals that are easy to achieve. Ticking things off is incredibly motivating. You’ll be flying in no time.
6. Build a childcare strategy
Working from home can be more of a struggle when you have kids. Paradoxically it can be a blessing too. When you know you have childcare responsibilities, the time that you spend working has to be productive. The trick is to build a routine that works for you as well as your child(ren). For instance you may find your most productive hours are in the evening after your kids have gone to bed. Alternatively if there are two adult caregivers working from home, you could do the childcare in shifts – leaving one person to work while the other looks after the little ones.
7. Get ready to go to work
It might feel fun and novel. But working on that key report while you are sitting in your PJs is unlikely to generate good results. Get out of bed, take a shower and get ready for work. Just as you normally would if you were going to the office. It’s important to maintain a sense of rhythm and routine.
8. Prioritise your tasks
Try to allocate your priority tasks to the part of the day that you feel most productive. Or where you know there will be the fewest distractions. And while it’s important to build some flex into your schedule, try to estimate the time you need to complete each task. Then stick to that estimate as best you can. Finally, plan the following day before you shut down for the evening. Knowing what’s coming will help you to relax. Best of all it gives your subconscious a chance to begin ruminating on tomorrow’s tasks.
9. Pretend you’re not at home
You don’t aimlessly check the fridge every five minutes when you’re in the office. Nor do you pause your tasks to go and hang your washing outside. A big part of working from home successfully is avoiding distractions. So turn the television off. Put your phone away. And pretend you’re at work, not at home.
10. Schedule clear breaks
Having said that, it’s important to schedule breaks. Taking half an hour or an hour at lunch is important to give your brain a rest. Have a stroll in the garden. Eat something healthy. Do something mindless. (Hello, washing up.) Breaks are important. Just make sure they are scheduled.
Over to you…
Turning on the productivity tap at home takes a little practice. Be prepared to experiment a little with your environment, your hours and your routine to find what works for you. And while it’s important not to make excuses, remember that you are not a robot. Stay positive. Stay agile. You’ve got this.