7 Tips for Productively Working from Home
Updated: Jan 26, 2021
There are a lot of benefits of working from home, from being able to see more of your kids to a flexible schedule and more. But it’s also very dangerous if you’re easily lured in by procrastination and the numerous distractions that can present themselves and hamper your work and productivity. If you’re going to work from home, be it a day here or there, or full-time, you’ll want to plan it out. Here are some tips for successfully working from home:
1. Make yourself an office, or at least a work “station” area.
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. Invest in a good desk, chair, and computer so you’ll be comfortable working, but not so comfortable that you’ll be tempted to slack-off.
About distractions: They’re one of the biggest challenges of working remotely. To keep your brain in the right mode, avoid doing nonwork 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.
2. Stay motivated with a list
A simple to-do list can do wonders for keeping you both organized, motivated, and productive as you work from home. As you create your list, think about big, long-term goals, like finishing a project, as well as small goals, like completing tasks that lead to that big goal. Checking off those smaller goals lets you know you’re making progress, which gives you positive reinforcement throughout your day. And work feels much more doable when it’s not all one giant task.
Because it is so easy to get off task while working from home, having a checklist of the things you need to get done will help you visualize your progress. I’m not typically a list person, but I have found this to be very helpful, and when I’m slacking off it’s clearly visible by the lack of things checked off.
3. Create a process for collaboration
Working from home might seem like a solo experience, but it usually still involves interacting with others, whether it’s meeting with your team, getting assignments, making decisions, or giving and receiving feedback. So it’s important to set up methods for collaboration while you work remotely.
4. Minimize distractions and set limits online.
If the bulk of your work is done on a computer, you probably know all to well the distractions of the internet. It’s easy to fall into the trap of Facebook or other sites if you keep it open on one of your browser tabs all day. Allow yourself to check in before you start your work and on breaks only. When it’s work time, close any non-work related tabs and websites. If you keep Facebook open, you will undoubtedly keep flipping back to it to see if there’s anything new posted.
5. Don’t procrastinate.
Look at your to-do list and actually do everything on it. Don’t do 90 percent of it and tell yourself that you’ll just make it up and do it tomorrow. You’ll create a cycle of constantly pushing things off to another day that is very hard to get out of. There will be days when an emergency interrupts your work, as there would be if you were going into the office each day. If you’re already behind it can really put you back further.
6. Commit of doing more.
Projects always take longer than you initially think they will. For that reason, you'll frequently get done less than you set out to do. So, just as you're encouraged to overestimate how much time you'll spent doing one thing, you should also overestimate how many things you'll do during the day. Even if you come up short of your goal, you'll still come out of that day with a solid list of tasks filed under 'complete.'
7. Take care of yourself.
Make sure you eat a good breakfast so you don’t have to stop working when the hunger pangs kick in, and schedule yourself a reasonable lunch break. Some also find it helpful to dress as if they were going to work. It’s not necessary to put on a suit, but something more than sweatpants and a tshirt might help you feel more on-task. Schedule a lunch date to maintain social connections outside of your home.
Working from home takes discipline. If you’re just starting out, it may take you a little time to find your groove, but if you follow the tips above you’ll find it a lot easier. The key is to keep a good work-life balance, establish boundaries, and take care of yourself.