How to Stay Productive Working from Home

Working from home can be a daunting task, especially now that so many of us are learning how to adapt under stay-at-home orders. These 9 tips will help you increase your productivity as you adjust to this new lifestyle…

1. Get ready for the day.

Changing out of the clothes you slept in can help reset your morning. You don’t have to put on a full face of makeup, or even wear your usual business-casual attire. But it’s important to change out of your fuzzy robe and slippers to get into the right mindset for the day.

2. Designate a working space

Designating a specific area to work in can significantly increase your ability to concentrate. Avoid working in bed, and if possible, set up your workspace in an area outside of your bedroom. Remember, we want to reduce the temptation to go back to sleep in the morning!

If you have family or roommates at home, also avoid high-traffic areas like the kitchen. While it’s fine to take breaks, it’s important to set boundaries with the other people in your household. While they mean well, it can be a huge distraction to have everyone in the house trying to start up a conversation in the middle of your big project.

If you live in a small apartment or have kids running around, setting up a distraction-free zone may not always be a realistic option. If that’s the case, just be sure to arrange a desk or corner to work in that is as free of distractions as possible.

3. Clean your desk

Before starting your work for the day, take 5-10 minutes to organize and clear off your workspace. Gather any materials you know you’ll need for the day (electronics, chargers, planners, lists, etc) and have them ready to go.

Knowing where everything is before starting your workday will reduce stress and make you feel more prepared. Then when you’re on a Zoom call with your boss or client, you won’t have to awkwardly run into the other room to find the report they were asking for.

4. Make a To Do list

Prepare for your day by making a daily all-inclusive To-Do list. If possible, make your list the night before! Writing out everything you’d like to get done will make it easier to prioritize in our next step.

5. Pick your top 3 tasks

From your To-Do list, select the top 3 tasks that you must complete that day. Completing these 3 tasks will be the main goal for the day, and then you can move on to completing your other tasks.

Be sure to set a priority for all of your tasks. This could be writing them down again in order of most to least important, or using different color highlighters or stickers to indicate how urgent the task is.

6. Keep your work and personal tasks separate

Even though your day may look a little different when you’re home, separating your work tasks and personal tasks will help increase your productivity. Personal tasks are often mundane (laundry, dishes, fixing the wobbly table…) but we find a way to use them to procrastinate on our work tasks. Creating this clear separation will ensure that procrastination doesn’t sneak its way into your day.

Again, you can indicate work vs personal tasks with different lists of colors. You’ll be able to do your work more efficiently if you can focus on the task at hand. Attempting to reply to an email, do the laundry, and entertain the kids all at the same time likely won’t go over well.

7. Write down distractions

Did you clean out the drier lint? Did you add eggs to the grocery list? Wait, remember that thing you have to give back to your neighbor?

It’s totally normal for these small distracting thoughts to pop up during your day. Instead of stopping everything to address them, the most effective way to remember these extra to-do’s is to make (you guessed it) another list.

Simply writing down the distracting thoughts you have throughout the day can help you prioritize the things that actually need to get done. Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind that you aren’t forgetting anything.

8. Take breaks

If you don’t normally work from home, you’re probably used to taking small breaks throughout the day. Whether it’s talking to a coworker for a minute, getting up to go to the office kitchen, or grabbing a snack from the vending machine, most of us are used to stepping away from our desks for a bit.

The same thing applies at home – you can increase your productivity by taking small breaks. Go on a short walk, grab a snack, or take your dog outside. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re required to be glued to your computer screen 24/7.

9. Create a routine

Lastly, if you plan to be working from home for a while, making these steps into a regular routine will increase your overall productivity. We’re creatures of habit, so having a somewhat predictable workflow for the day will help you work more effectively, and will hopefully make working from home a little less cumbersome.

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