To some, working remotely or from home sounds like a dream. Perhaps this is why work from home productivity studies have shown an increase of 13% in productivity.
When working from home, you take breaks when you need them, cook fresh meals when hungry, take care of your children, and stay cozy in your slippers and pajamas all day.
But while that may all be fun at first, your house is full of distractions. Without the structure of office life, some people have found it harder to focus and keep up with their work.
The line between your home and work life may start to blur until it feels like you never truly stop working.
Before you know it, you’re behind, feeling overwhelmed, and unsure how to recuperate your lost focus and motivation. But don’t worry–you can still add structure and fix the factors affecting your work from home productivity without giving up the flexibility of working remotely.
You may have heard some of these suggestions before and know you should be doing them but aren’t. If it feels overwhelming to make a lot of changes at once, start with just one or two small, achievable goals related to remote productivity. Commit to building a new habit and hold yourself accountable.
Here are some tips and practices for staying productive when working remotely:
If you’re working from home, try to create a dedicated space in your home where you can close the door and disconnect from outside distractions. Confine work to your at-home office, so it’s set in your mind as a place of productivity and focus. By creating a dedicated area, you enter and stay in a productive mindset every time you enter the space.
Keep your home office tidy, organized, and well-lit. Decorate with potted plants, whether they’re real or fake. Studies suggest that a splash of greenery can be refreshing and boost productivity!
Alternatively, you can consider working remotely outside the home. Choose a dedicated co-working space for professionals, a library, a coffee shop, or an office building. You won’t have to worry about constant noise or interruptions from loved ones away from home.
While working from home allows for more work-life flexibility, especially when it comes to childcare, setting boundaries with your loved ones is important. Constant interruptions are a sure way to get distracted, fall behind on work, and feel overwhelmed by everything on your plate.
While working at home, have a conversation with your family, roommates, or other cohabitants about boundaries and interruption-free time to focus.
Work out a system for how they can reach you if necessary. Maybe a closed home office door means “do not disturb,” while an open door means you’re available if someone stops by to ask a question or favor.
Humans aren’t robots. We can’t work non-stop for hours at a time and maintain the same level of accuracy and efficiency. Without regular breaks to rest and take care of yourself, you’ll burn out and become less productive in the long run.
“Pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato.” This technique gets its name from the classic tomato-shaped kitchen timers. It is a proven way to track your work, stay focused, and allow yourself breaks to rest and recharge.
The method is simple. Work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Repeat! Every three or four cycles, take a more extended 20-30 minute break.
During your 5-minute break, take a few minutes away from your screen. You can use the restroom, fill up on water, or rest your eyes. These regular 5-minute breaks are short but powerful in helping you to avoid burnout and improve your work from home productivity.
Keeping track of your cycles is a tangible way to feel your productivity for the day. Even if you only complete one task, having a solid count of productive cycles reminds you how much time and effort went into that single task.
If you’re still new to the workforce, find a mentor!
Mentors are an invaluable source of support and guidance. They can encourage you, offer advice, bounce ideas, and make sure you’re headed in the right direction. They can also be a source of accountability and apply healthy pressure to be your best self.
If you’re lucky enough to have an employer who provides mentorship opportunities, be sure to take advantage of them. If not, try finding a mentor outside of work who can help guide you toward success. A good mentor who works remotely might also add some work from home productivity tips to your arsenal.
It may sound silly but start every morning by making your bed. Completing a chore first thing puts you in a positive mindset and starts your momentum for the day on a productive note.
Plus, when you get ready for bed at night and see your bed made, you can feel relaxed knowing that everything is in order.
Comfort is an attractive benefit to working from home, but too much comfort can affect your productivity. After all, when you’re cozy and comfortable in your PJs, your body will just want to crawl back into bed and nap!
Get dressed for work every morning. You don’t need to wear a suit and a tie, but you should at least get out of your PJs and into something fit for public wear. This simple act of changing clothes builds structure into your day and will motivate you to get more done.
With so many apps and notifications for texts, calls, emails, and even games, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted and pulled out of the focus zone!
Take some time to go through the notification settings on your devices and apps. Turn off unimportant notifications and check if your device has a “do not disturb” setting.
If you must keep these notifications on, switch them to silent or vibrate, so they don’t distract you from getting things done throughout the day.
Contrary to what you might think, working more hours does not necessarily make you more productive. While you might see some short-term gains in how much you can squeeze into a day, it’ll only lead to burnout over time.
Breaks are crucial for staying happy, healthy, and motivated during your workday. If you try the Pomodoro technique, you’ll have some breaks built into your day. Even if you don’t feel you need a break, take it. Don’t wait for your body to crash.
Even something as small as taking 10-15 minutes can increase productivity during the rest of the day. A study by DeskTime, a productivity app, found that its most productive users worked for 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break.
Take this time to get away from your screen. Grab a snack, refill your water, or take a short walk. For longer breaks, go out for lunch or take a power nap.
Breathe in some fresh air with a quick walk around your neighborhood or nearby park. We’ve already covered how taking a break can boost your work from home productivity. Walks are an especially effective break since they can clear your mind and reduce stress levels.
Even though walks are a very mild form of exercise, they still get you up and away from your desk. Studies suggest that sitting for too long every day can negatively impact your body. Moving around, light exercise, and stretching can help you avoid health issues and chronic pain down the road.
It’s the best break of all – one that lasts a few days or even weeks!
Short breaks sprinkled throughout your day slow down burnout. But you should occasionally take a long, luxurious break that lets you truly relax, refresh, and reset.
It can also be tempting to take less time off when working from home but taking time off for a relaxing vacation is worth it for your long-term productivity.
Vacations can spark new ideas and inspiration. They’re a time to connect with family and enjoy the best parts of life. They’re an encouraging reminder of why you put in hours every day. Work hard, play hard!
Multi-tasking might feel more productive at the moment, but it’s typically not. The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you “multi-task,” you’re still only doing one thing at a time–just switching quickly between different tasks.
It’s far more productive to hunker down and focus on one task at a time. You’ll also get to feel that burst of accomplishment every time you cross an item off your to-do list.
Goals motivate us and give us something to strive for. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that setting realistic goals can make you more productive!
But did you know that setting unrealistic goals actually causes stress?
When you set goals, stick to the SMART method – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
The people you spend time with have a big impact on how you feel about your job. And how you feel about your job will, in turn, impact your work from home productivity.
When you work remotely, it’s challenging to connect with your co-workers and build friendships. It’s easy for in-office workers to have a quick hallway conversation or break-room chat. However, employees working from home most likely keep their emails and messages to work-related topics.
If you work from home but still have a local office, plan a day for everyone to meet for lunch. Once a quarter, splurge on fun extracurricular team-building activities, such as bowling or an escape room.
Even working remotely, you can create opportunities to get to know your team. For remote teams, plan a weekly “check-in” every Friday where your team can chat and catch up on the latest news in everyone’s life. Feeling silly? Take a break to play an online drawing game with your co-workers!
We are social animals, and we are happiest when we are part of a team.
We are so often our own worst critics. If you’re having an off day and just can’t seem to focus or get work done, don’t beat yourself up about it. Some days, you’ll be sick, distracted, or unmotivated. You might be struggling with a personal issue or have found out that a family member is sick. Maybe world events have made it hard for you to focus.
Be kind to yourself and know that you deserve the best possible life you can create for yourself. While you should set goals and structure your day for productivity, don’t be too hard on yourself on the days you need a break.
On the flip side of that coin, you will feel especially motivated and productive some days. Take advantage of that energy to knock out more work! Your future self will appreciate it.
Are you struggling to solve a work problem? Do you need a specific office tool or software subscription to better succeed at your job? Is there something specific that you want to learn?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It’s okay not to know everything, and it’s okay to ask for help or support when needed. Stewing over a problem eats into your day and can make you frustrated and discouraged.
A good team wants to help. A good manager wants to supply you with all the tools you need to succeed. If you don’t ask, they may not know you need it.
Similar to the last point, don’t be afraid to insist on getting the tools and software you need to be successful. This could be hardware, such as a faster work laptop or a more ergonomic chair. It could also be software for task management, customer service, communication, and more.
Equipping remote employees with the right tools has been recognized as one of the keys to success while working as part of a remote team. This typically includes tools for video calling, instant messaging, task management, calendars, and so on.
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