COVID lockdowns caught many of us by surprise this spring. Sent home from school, work and unable to do any other fun public activities, resulting in a retraction into our own homes with only our families, pets, or maybe no one at all by our sides. Working from home suddenly became the new norm that was quite far from normal. How to function as a working professional or student in the comfort of our own living room because something many of us had to try out for the first time. But by now, about a half of a year later, we are seasoned professionals Right?
Well I don’t know about you, but working from home is still quite difficult for me. Separating my work space from my sleeping space is much harder than I anticipate. And separating my work time from my snack time remains a skill I have yet to master. But as the new school year rolls around and it is no longer excusable to “not have expected” learning and working in this way, it’s time to really hone in on my work from home skills.
If you are struggling to find motivation to work from home, you are not alone. But because productivity is a must once again, here are 10 productivity tips for you to try to help you work from home.
1. Create a Clean Work Space
Having a clean work space can make all the difference to your working productivity. Whatever distractions surround you are opportunities for your mind to wander away from your work and towards literally anything else. So don’t allow a cluttered or messy space to distract you (because no matter how much we hate to clean, sitting down for a long day at work might seem even worse).
Each day before you begin to work, make sure your desk and work area is spotless and that you have all the possible tools and materials you’ll need that day. Turn on a nice lamp, sit by a bright big window, grab a comfortable chair, and allow yourself to really settle into the work space you have created for yourself to work from home.
2. Set a Time & Get Out of Bed
When working from home, it’s really tempting to work-from-the bed. But staying in bed all day is not the way towards productivity. Set an alarm in the morning that’ll force you to get out of bed… for at least a few hours.
Once that alarm goes off, get up, make the bed, make your coffee or whatever else gets you started for the day and don’t turn back. It’s totally understandable to want an afternoon time-to-lay-down break, but prevent yourself from slipping under the covers and getting too comfortable by getting out of the bed and moving to your workspace (and therefore mindset!) as soon as you can in the morning.
3. Eat Before & Have A Morning Drink At Hand
Before you begin your day of work from home, it’s really helpful to have a nourishing breakfast in the morning. Sitting down to eat a nice breakfast- whether that’s oatmeal, cereal, fruit, or even just a cup of coffee for the non-breakfast-eaters- allows you to clear the mind and gradually make your way into the day.
Grab a book, watch the news, or (only if necessary) check emails or social media as you eat your brekkie. Once your meal is over and it’s time to get to work, pour yourself another cup o’ joe or tea and bring it to your work station. Having something to sip on while working will help you from wandering back into the kitchen 600 times to see what else is in the fridge when you should very well be working away!
4. Dress for Productivity
Working from home provides us with the much-needed leeway of our wardrobe. Without the office rules or social pressure to put on a totally professional outfit, a lot of time can actually be saved by toning it down a bit. But just because you’re dressing comfy and casual does not mean you should stay in your pjs all day. Changing into an outfit that feels put together can really help get you out of the sleep-all-day mindset and into the working one. Some ways to do this while staying super comfy are to find a pair of cute sweats or a cute cardigan to throw on. That way you are professional enough from the waist up (for zoom, duh.), but comfy enough from the waist down (for you sanity, also duh.). Side note, slippers are also a phenomenal work from home outfit option.
If you’re really feeling productive that day (or you aren’t feeling it but really need to), put on an even more profesh outfit… maybe even one you’d wear to the office. Dressing to impress goes a long way in terms of shifting to a productive day of work, even if you’re only impressing you and your dog!
5. Nightly To-Do List
The night before each workday, make a list of all the things you have to accomplish the following day. By jotting all the to-do’s down it will allow you to stop thinking about them as you fall asleep. Plus, you’ll be able to revisit the list and change it in the morning but the planning portion won’t take up too much of your work time. Not to mention crossing a task off a list is the most satisfying thing in the world. So if that doesn’t inspire you to stay productive I don’t know what will.
6. Keep a Planner
In the same vein as the to-do list, keeping a planner can also help with all your tasks when you work from home. Keeping a planner for the week and month will help keep you organized; and it will help from all the days blurring together (like they have for the last six months). In this planner of yours set a schedule for yourself. Decide the exact hours you will work each day and record that in your planner so that you won’t forget it or avoid it. This is especially important for work from home students who may or may not have set class times this semester.
7. Move Before You Work
If you are going to be sitting inside all day, it’s pertinent that you get a breath of fresh air or at least get your body moving before sitting inside for hours. Go for a walk or a jog in the morning so you don’t go stir crazy on your fourth hour of working. Do some yoga to get your circulation pumping. Even just take 10 minutes to really stretch your morning body. Anything to get your mind and body in sync and active in the morning will be super helpful to your concentration throughout the day.
8. Get in a Routine
This goes for when you wake up, what you do each morning, when you eat your meals. While this doesn’t have to be planned out to the tee, it is helpful to have a general outline you follow most days. Getting yourself to bed at a reasonable time and waking up early enough to have a productive day will be important to keeping your productivity functioning throughout. A routine will also help you to be able to relax when the night is over. If you work each day until 5, once the hour hand hits you’ll be ready and have finished enough work to enjoy the rest of your night, just like you would have done if you got off work not at home.
9. Take Breaks
As you work from home it can get really boring sitting in the same exact spot all day. So take breaks! And on these breaks, take advantage of moving around. Go for a walk outside, play with your dog, go grab a coffee or smoothie. Anything to wake your body up once again will help you from burning out for the rest of the day.
Try and take a few 10-45 minute breaks during your work day. Take 45 minutes to go out and grab a coffee or to lunch, and take a 10 minute break sometime before and sometime after. That way you will still have enough hours to get your work done but some much needed mental breathing time in between the hard work.
10. Set the Scene
Play some music, light a candle, turn on lights and open a window. Anything to make you feel comfortable in your work environment will help you stay productive and on top of your tasks. There has been so much uncertainty in this world lately that a nice calm work environment is much needed. So take what you can and make this happen. If you do, even your super stressful work can be combated by your soothing surroundings.
Staying productive while working from home is no small task. With constant distractions of our at-home lives surrounding us- clutter, dogs, family members, our bedded, it takes a lot to sit down and get focused. So set a scene you’ll want to work in. Start your day with some movement. And take breaks throughout to keep you motivated for the long haul.