How To Stay Productive When You Work From Home
One of the major perks of remote employment is that you can work from any place you want. However, it’s often hard to stay focused on a crowded beach or a busy cafeteria with a line of people squeezing for a single espresso regulare.
You can spice it up a bit but the fact is that most times you’ll be working in the comfort of your home.
Staying productive is challenging when you need to juggle your daily tasks and home concerns. For me, the hardest part was convincing people around me that I’m still working although I’m home.
Now I want to share a few tips that helped me keep a healthy work-life balance while working from home.
Become an early bird
When you don’t have to get up and rush to the office, it can become tempting to sleep in. but if you want to beat the spread and stay productive at home, you should consider getting up early. Set an alarm for an hour or two before your partner or kids wake up.
Brew yourself a cup of your favorite morning blend and dive into the most creative tasks at hand. Your motivation and focus will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day, so make sure to use your most productive periods for the most challenging tasks.
This is especially important if you run a successful business without a marketing department or that department consists solely of you.
In this case, you need to handle creative writing, update blog posts and social media copy, as well as analyze your CRM data to identify high-value prospects.
Then you can use slower points of the day to handle the easier logistical tasks such as sending out emails or answering HARO queries.
For me, the most productive times of the day are early in the morning and late at night. Since I have the most flexible working hours, I don’t try to change them. I simply wrap my work around it.
Design your own workspace
You don’t need to tell me how tempting it is to work from a bed or couch. Still, I was never able to be super-productive until I set up something more official. It can be a makeshift workspace in the dining room or even an actual desk in your home.
Your workspace should be free from distractions and preferably have a door so you can seal yourself off during meetings and calls. Stock it with all the supplements and equipment you may need, such as paper, headphones, chargers, etc.
I hate having to stand up repeatedly to get things I need. It cuts down on productivity and invites more distractions into your workflow.
Having a dedicated workspace can help you make the mental association between work and an office.
We all love working in our pyjamas, but trust me, when you change clothes into something more serious, you’ll feel more like you’re getting your job done throughout the day. When you dress up, you give your brain a reason to “dress up” as well.
So you wake up, do your bathroom grooming, and wear nice clothes. What else is there?
To set your digital environment to office mode. Internet browsers like Google Chrome allow you to set multiple accounts with different toolbars on the top. Create one for work and it’ll keep you from distractions and unwanted content.
Remove digital distractions
Talking of digital distraction, I must admit this one was the toughest for me. You may not check social media much at work, but when you’re at home, there’s no one to stop you. It’s just too easy to fall down the rabbit hole. One quick look at the comment section and you end up on Wikipedia with two more YouTube tabs open. Now excuse me for a sec…
I’m back. Just had to check something out.
To keep these distractions from taking over your work time, the only thing you can do is eliminate them entirely. Remove social platforms from your bookmarks and log out of all your accounts.
I know it’s hard, son, but the hardest step is admitting you need help.
Disable alerts and notifications and put your phone in the bedroom when you’re trying to work. There will be plenty of time for social media in the evening, once you log out for the day.
Set expectations for people around you
You may be working from home and still have the company of roommates, family members, and pets who need to learn to respect your space during work hours.
The thing I keep repeating to people around me is – Just because I’m working from home doesn’t mean I’m at home.
If you have to share space with another person who works from home, you may need to lay ground rules for meeting times, shared desks, chairs, as well as quiet periods.
If anyone else needs to be at home while you’re working, you need to make it clear that for the time being they’re in your office. For example, you can signal your family that you’re working when you have your headphones on.
It’s too easy to get distracted by all the things that have to be done around the house, even if you’re not actively taking part.
Interact with people
On the other hand, it doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself from people completely. When you start working from home, you’ll soon enough miss the casual social interactions with colleagues you’re used to in a brick-and-mortar office. When you work remotely, you are deprived of the small talks and other morale-boosting activities that make each day at the office memorable.
So what options do you have?
Communicate with other employees. Frequent communication with other employees will help you fend away boredom and loneliness. Reach out to people in your team through video chat via apps like Meet and Slack, a hosted phone system, or whatever other systems your company uses for communication.
If you’re working from home, you’re not working from the moon. It’s not forbidden to interact with other people during the day, even if you’re not colleagues.
Seeing another human face during the day when most of your work is solitary is good for morale so use your breaks to chat with others.
Use laundry for work timing
There’s a common law saying that listening to just two or three songs in the shower can help you save water. And that very much makes sense. Hearing a few of your favorite songs start and end one after another can help you gauge your time in the shower and keep your washing time brief.
How has this anything to do with working at home?
Because the same principle can help you stay on track when working remotely. But instead of three songs from your playlist, you can do something useful – run your laundry instead.
Doing your laundry is like a built-in timer for your home that lets you use the time to start and finish something from your to-do list before changing the load.
I sometimes commit to one assignment during the wash cycle and another during the drying. This way I can work smarter on tasks that would otherwise likely take all day to complete.
When you know there’s a timer it makes it difficult to get distracted.
If you don’t have laundry around, for example, if you’re on a working holiday you can use another hack.
If you have a digital watch (yes, there are some of us who value a good timepiece and haven’t succumbed to the smartwatch fad), you turn on the hour-beep function.
I can’t describe how many times this has helped me stay focused on tasks before me.
The key is to complete one or a set of tasks before you hear the next beep. But the trick is not to check the actual time.
Just make sure you complete whatever you’re doing until the next hour’s beep goes off.
Match your music choice to the task at hand
When you’re working from home the music you’re listening to is the soundtrack to your career. And at work, you get the best results if you listen to diverse playlists.
I advise you to listen to the music that matches the energy of the project you’re working on to boost your productivity.
Popular video game soundtracks are great for doing this. They are lyric-free which makes it easier for you to maintain focus.
I love Bethesda game soundtracks because there is a clear difference between different rythms and intensity.
For example, when you’re traveling in the wilderness or exploring a ruin, the game plays soothing and tranquil music, which is perfect for writing.
However, when you enter combat or start an intense quest, the music upbeats and the rhythm intensifies. I find those tracks perfect for going through my inbox or replying to users’ comments.
If you need inspiration on what to listen to, check out what people at Better Proposals are listening to while working. Better Proposals is a 100% remote company and music is an important part of working hours for many of our colleagues.
Eat and sleep enough
Yep, a great tip for building muscle mass, too. But what does it have to do with working from home?
It’s simple. When you’re working from home, one of the biggest blessings for some people (me) is unlimited access to the kitchen.
But here we come to a crossroads – there’s nothing wrong with dashing to the kitchen any time you take a break, but what you eat makes all the difference.
An unhealthy snack can impact your productivity and drain energy. You’ll function much better when you switch to a healthier diet.
The conclusion is that you need to eat well when working from home – because you have every opportunity.
It goes along with a proper sleep schedule. Try not to binge-watch your favorite TV shows until the weekend.
The right food to keep your energy levels high and enough sleep to refresh your body and mind is the true secret to achieving work-home balance.
Prep meals in bulk
My first day at work from home. Imagine my horror when I discovered there are no more vending machines around the corner and even walking a few blocks down the street for a quick lunch with coworkers was impossible.
The hard truth is that while working from home, you may have to prepare meals for both yourself and your family.
So what can you do to keep cooking from ruining your productivity?
Try meal prepping.
Prepare a few meals in bulk on Sunday and distribute them into glass containers. This can help you a lot from having to stop word and make daily meals throughout the week.
This also works well when you have a lot of people living in the house because there’s a small chance that everyone will be hungry at the same time.
This way everyone can eat at their own pace and, most importantly, let you finish your work.
Choose a closing time
Many of those who embrace working from home hope that it would allow them to strike a better work-life balance.
However, this might not be further from the truth. Working from home can also feel like being at a casino. You get so caught up in your game and a relaxing environment that you completely lose track of time.
When working from home full time, it’s easy to let your work life seep into your personal life.
Maintaining a healthy boundary is important for keeping both halves of your life.
Just as coworkers who are packing up and leaving the office remind you that you should do the same, set an alarm at the end of your day to remind you that a normal workday is coming to an end. You don’t have to stop exactly at that time. Still, knowing that it’s time to close for the day helps you save your work and tie the loose ends. Also, there are lots of time management tools like Toggl(and Toggl alternatives) that will help you to keep track of the overtime and plan your work ahead.
Working from home has many benefits but challenges follow close behind. When you establish your workspace, learn to stay focused, and turn all the conveniences of your home to your favor, you’ll never want to return to the office again.
But is it really possible to increase your revenue while reducing your working hours?
I suggest you read Cocktails & Palm Trees and fill in the blanks that stand between your current situation and living your ideal life while working from any place you want.
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