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If you are one of the lucky ones who scored a work from home job or if you are in the process of searching for remote work, it would make sense that you are also looking for tips to be more productive while working from home. Time management in the workplace is tough enough, and it can be difficult to transition your work style to a new environment when you move into a home office.
I work from home full time in my day job and I also run this blog on the side which also requires a lot of focused and productive hours in the evenings and weekends. In order to be successful in both roles, I have HAD TO set some systems in place to help me be productive in an environment that can be ripe with distractions.
So how can you work from home without getting distracted?
Below are some of the best productivity tips for making your work at home process almost foolproof. Follow these tips and be the most effective person on your team!
Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
The first thing you need to do when you start working from home is to set up a dedicated office area. This doesn’t mean that you need to clear out a whole room to make your home office – although that is nice. You really just need to find a place where you can set up a small desk in a lesser trafficked area.
Your goal is to make sure that you have a space that is 100% dedicated to work. You don’t want to make your bed your workspace area, because your body will start feeling confused about when it should be preparing for sleep or gearing up for a focus session. The kitchen table won’t ever be completely your own space and you might also get leftover syrup on your notebook.
If you don’t have the space for a dedicated home office, try clearing out a corner of your guest room, or possibly placing a small desk behind your couch in the living room.
Make it your own space, add some motivational quotes or get cute office accessories. I linked a few ideas below!
Looking for additional home office decor inspiration? Check out these ideas from my friend Cori at WorkFromHomeSimplified!
Avoid Distractions (and tools to help)
One of the biggest challenges about working from home is overcoming all of the distractions that come with being in the place where you are most comfortable.
The top 3 distractions that come up for remote workers are TV, Housework, and social media.
You can help curb the TV distraction by setting up your designated workspace in a part of the house that doesn’t have a TV, or at least no line of sight to a TV. If you have to set up your workspace in the living room, try to place your desk where your back is to the TV. This way you will be less tempted to turn on your favorite shows during the work day.
Housework is certainly a distraction that comes up when you work from home. That pile of laundry you know you need to tackle might have popped up in your mind when you worked in an office – but now that you work from home, you can actually see that laundry all day and it is much harder to ignore.
I do run laundry loads while I work from home. I know that when I am in the office, I do take little breaks throughout the day to chat with coworkers or to step outside and clear my head. So I do give myself 5 minutes here and there to switch over laundry loads or empty the dishwasher. Classify that as a short mental break and you are good!
What you want to avoid, is getting sucked down a cleaning spiral and realize that you have spent time organizing your closet or cleaning the baseboards during the workday. If you are a person who can get lost cleaning, be sure to set a timer if you get up to do a small house chore. The timer will go off and you won’t have lost yourself while KonMari-ing your home!
Staying off Social Media While Working From Home
Social Media can be tough since you won’t have people walking by your desk to help keep you accountable as you mindlessly scroll your feeds in between calls. You also want to make sure that while you are on a teleconference, you aren’t getting distracted by your phone just because your coworkers can’t see you.
If social media scrolling is a tough habit for you to break, place your phone somewhere that you can’t see it, or where it is just out of reach. I often place my phone just behind my laptop or in a desk drawer, where it is out of sight, and I find I reach for it much less and don’t have to worry about it becoming a distraction during the day.
Need help in staying focused? Download an app like Cold Turkey that will help you set limits on some of those distracting websites. This is a great resource to help keep you focused and more productive. (And it’s free!)
Set A Work Schedule
It can be easy to let your work and personal hours intermix while you are working from home, but try to avoid this as much as you can. Do this by setting a work schedule for yourself and make it a part of your routine.
If your office hours start at 8:30 – be sure to have breakfast before then so you can sit down at your desk at the start of your workday and not be distracted by the bagel that you are still waiting to come out of the toaster.
It can also be easy to let your workday intermix with your personal time too. So choose a firm sign off time as well. Just because you work from home does not mean that you need to be logged on every minute you are available at home. If your workday ends at 5:30, do your best to sign off at that time every day, especially if you have family that is also home at that time. Enjoy your time with them! You worked hard all day!
Be sure to let your family know what your work schedule is. My husband and kids all know what my work hours are and my kids are aware that when mom shuts the doors to her office, it means she is working and should not be bothered.
Working From Home With Kids
While I don’t typically have my kids at home during the work day, there are some days when they are sick or school is closed and they have to stay home too. And kids can be the biggest distraction of all.
Let your team know that you will have your kids around and that your response times may be delayed. They will likely be very understanding and can work with you on managing any deadlines.
When your kids have to be home unexpectedly and for a short period of time, do not worry about the screen time. Put on some movies and try to keep up with your work as normal. Use your normal break times to get lunch for your kids and to give them a little break from screen time.
If you have to keep them home for a longer period of time, get prepped with some coloring books, or educational videos. If you have a spouse who is also working from home, try to plan your meeting schedule so you aren’t both on calls at the same time.
When kids are home during the work day, you can make every effort to be productive, but it just won’t be at the same rate that you are normally. Plan to spend an hour or so at night after they go to bed catching up on what you missed during the day.
Take Mental Breaks
One of the best things that you can do to boost your productivity while working from home is to take mental breaks! When you are in the office, those breaks are easier to come by in the form of chatty coworkers, going out to lunch, or even walking to a meeting.
But when you are at home alone, finding ways to take energizing breaks may feel more difficult. Feel free to stand up and walk around. Take a short walk around the block or spend a few minutes sipping coffee on the back porch.
Taking short breaks is a great way to boost your productivity by making it easier for your brain to focus when you return to your task!
I am a big fan of the Pomodoro method where you set a timer for 25 minutes of focused work and then take a 5-minute break before you repeat the process. I use this Chrome Plug In to help me implement this method during the day!
Tips for Working From Home Effectively
Aside from being more productive in your remote job, there are a few things that you can do to set yourself up for work from home success!
Get Ready for the Day
For some people, this will mean getting dressed like you are actually going into the office. For others this may just mean brushing your teeth.
I tend to fall into the latter group, but I do know that I feel much more prepared for a work call when I have gotten out of my pajamas (even if it is just an upgrade to a t-shirt) and brushed my hair. You also never know when that phone call my turn into a video chat!
Try a Coworking Group
If you find yourself in need of accountability or comradery, try coworking. You can join a virtual coworking group with members on your team by turning on video or audio chat while working on a project together. Or you can meet up with other remote workers in person at a coffee shop or rented office space.
My neighborhood has a Facebook group that connects all of the people in our area who work from home and group members will frequently plan local meetups for lunch or for office hours where we can work in the same space. It is nice to have some sort of social aspect while you are on the job!
Keep a Killer To-Do List
You are much less likely to get distracted during the workday if you have made a plan for how your time must be spent. Which means you need to have a clear to-do list that is well prioritized.
I have some super in-depth tips on how to put together a great to-do list that you can find here. This is the system I use daily to be sure I cross everything off my to-do list without any extra stress!
Recap: Maximize Your Work From Home Productivity
In order to be productive while working from home (because working from home is a pretty great gig and you don’t want to mess that up!), try to focus on the following areas.
- Set up a dedicated workspace
- Use the tools and tricks outlined above to limit some of the top distractions that plague remote workers
- Set a work schedule (and let your family know what your office hours are)
- Take Mental Breaks
- Get ready for the day
- Try Coworking for social interaction and accountability
- Have a plan of action with a great to-do list
If you use these strategies, you are going to be a work from home productivity master. I have actually found myself to be able to get much more done when working from home than I can at the office! Enjoy all the great things that remote work can bring!
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