Unusual times lead to unusual working methods. Working from home can be a challenge, definitely during a pandemic.
Maybe you’re working together with your partner, maybe you have kids running around the house all the time. Either way, working from home won’t be easy!
That is why it’s so important to stay productive! You don’t want to waste time staring around the room, right? Or getting distracted by your phone?
As a student, I know what working from home means. I’m sitting behind that desk numerous hours a week (even without lockdown). To minimize this time, I have to be productive. Working while not being productive will lead to a huge time loss!
This is why I listed some of the best practices for staying productive while working from home. Applying these best practices will make sure that you will waste less time, and have more of that valuable time left for your loved ones or some me-time!
Some tips and tricks might seem very obvious to you, but I know from experience that you actually have to make an effort to apply them! The trick is to make a checklist to ensure that you stay your most productive self!
Let’s dive into it!
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Tips to stay productive while working from home BEFORE you start
Clean up that mess!
The unavoidable first step… clean up your desk! I must admit, I’m not really a role model when you see my desk, but every morning before I start I try to structure (and clean up) my mess of the day before.
This is so important! You’ll start your new day with a fresh canvas. This brings structure in your head, so you can start being productive from the first minute.
Put those distractions away
The second most important thing to do before you start is to put all your distractions away. This does not only include your mobile phone (or tablet) but also your cat (yes, a cat can be very distracting!) or your children.
No, I do not advise you to ‘put your children away’, but try to have some time in a separate room where they cannot distract you, your productivity will get a boost!
Create your personal space
This aligns with what I said before. You need to find a separate space where you won’t be disturbed.
It should not just be a separate room, you also want to make it your space. Personalize it! Make it comfortable so you will love to work there. But don’t make it too cozy, you don’t want to fall asleep while working!
Put a rhythm in your day
Structure will make working from home easier. When you repeatedly have the same schedule, eventually, you’ll know that you’ll have to be productive at a certain time and it will be easier for you to work!
It’s also not only good to design your work time but planning some leisure time is equally important! You know life isn’t all about work! Plan your me-time and time with your loved ones. This will give you a boost on the times you need to be productive!
Plan, plan, plan!
Yes! Finding a rhythm involves planning! I love it!
I’m pretty sure you know this scenario. Someone sends you a message, to plan a business meeting or a night out with friends. Your first reaction? I can easily remember this for a week, right?
But the next day, someone else messages you with another meeting, and after that many more dates are coming… Each time you think, I’ll remember this.
However, in the end, you forgot about your first meeting or you have to message that person again, because what day did we have a meeting again?
Do you recognize this? Indeed, you are in desperate need of a planner!
The planner I use to plan my days (a.k.a. life) is the Best Self Planner.
When I first realized I needed a planner, I didn’t just want any planner. I mean, you can find those cheap 2-dollar agendas, but do they really work?
No. I wanted something that would increase my productivity, give me a good overview of all my work, to-dos and goals in life.
After a long search on the internet, I ended up at the BestSelf.co website.
At first, I was a bit skeptical because all their planners only contain 13 weeks (who even comes up with that?). So that means that I would need to buy 4 of those planners every year.
However, their website gave me the possibility to look into their entire planner online! This was what eventually convinced me because I could see how good their planner actually was before buying it!
Eventually, I started using this planner because it allows me to track my goals, to plan my day an hour at a time and, best of all, to stay motivated by being grateful for the lovely little moments in life that make me smile!
So far the planner has been a crucial part of my day-to-day life and I can’t imagine planning without it anymore!
If you want to check it out yourself, you can find it here.
But regardless of the planner you use, it’s really important that it allows you to plan your day in detail (more than just a checklist) and to set goals for yourself!
Coming straight out of bed to sit behind your desk won’t work. You are still sleepy and maybe a little bit grumpy too.
The best way to tell your brain that it should wake up is to get dressed! You normally dress up to go to work every day, right? Well, work at home is still work, so put off those pyjamas!
Have a shower, dress up and suddenly, your day will seem completely different!
Invest in a good chair
The wrong posture behind your desk can really hurt your back. Now, I’m certainly not a specialist at this but I know that a good chair can do a lot!
Consider investing in a decent chair that will allow your body to take on a comfortable posture. It should not be fancy, but it should prevent you from sitting behind a desk like a monkey.
A good chair will keep your back healthy and will benefit you in the long term!
Separate your work from your life
Cliché right? But so true!
Even if your work is your biggest passion project, you need some time off. Burnout is a real thing these days!
Set yourself some office hours and make it clear to your housemates that this will be the time you work so they should not disturb you with small things.
Likewise, after these office hours, you should not pick up the phone for work or read work-related emails. Imagine that you are working in an office out of home and that once you leave there, you should not have to look at any work-related things anymore!
Make an engagement with yourself that as soon as you leave your ‘office space’ at home, work is over for the day.
Tips to stay productive while working from home DURING work
I’m guilty. Soooo guilty. I’m horribly bad at taking breaks… Nobody’s perfect right?
Anyway, taking a break from work is really important. Even if it’s walking to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, the idea is that your brain can think of something else for a moment and relax.
Good options are going for a 5-minute walk in your street, drinking a cup of coffee, playing with your kids for a bit, experimenting with some yoga or mindfulness etc.
Work in a bright room
Something I noticed, is that I am way more motivated and productive when I work in a bright room.
And it’s not just something that works for me, it should work for you too! A lot of companies are adjusting their workplaces so that everyone at a desk should have natural light coming in. This is because research has indicated that it helps the performance in the office.
So when you decide on your personal workspace at home, consider putting your desk close to a window or in a room with a lot of natural light!
Keep a notepad close
We all have moments that our mind wanders and that’s completely normal. Sometimes when I’m working my mind comes up with a new idea for my blog or starts to wonder what to eat for dinner that night.
Of course, as soon as you notice that, you will want to focus on your work again, but those moments of wandering can be sparks of creative productivity too!
When I come up with ideas (even if those are dinner ideas) I grab my notepad and write it down. This way I know that I can come back to it later and I won’t forget it. So, I can easily start working again without having to worry about that idea.
You could say that I move the idea from my brain to the notepad so that there is space in my brain freed up for work!
Thus, I highly recommend having a notepad lying next to you!
Drink a lot of water
Water for the brain is like the air that our lungs need. It’s very important for your concentration to be hydrated!
Every morning, set up your desk by putting a bottle of water next to your laptop. By having some water that close and seeing it, it will be easier to just take a sip every now and then.
People always say that an adult needs up to 1.5-2 litres of water every day! With a bottle of water next to you, you will easily hit that 2-litre mark!
Don’t work too much
It’s tempting right? You’re being in a good workflow and suddenly it’s dinner time!?
When working from home there is no boss to tell you ‘see you tomorrow!’. Planning your working hours is completely up to you now so plan them wisely!
It’s easy to get caught up in work, to answer just one more email… but you need some time to relax!
A trick I sometimes use is to set an alarm at the time I have to take a break or stop working. You’ll never forget your breaks anymore!
Use sound cancelling headphones
Finding a spot for your desk where there is absolute silence is damn hard, or let’s say impossible!
Luckily, there exist headphones that cancel any sounds from around you. I’ve never used them before but I’m sure you can easily find them on Amazon!
Oh, or consider making earplugs your plan B!
Set online times
It’s very tempting to check your Instagram or Facebook a hundred times during work…
Especially when your work is a little annoying or boring, you might be tempted to scroll through your feed and look at nicer things than the workload before you.
However, this is a productivity killer!
It’s normal to be annoyed or bored with your work, but unfortunately, checking your phone won’t help to solve that problem.
Luckily, there exist apps that will block your social media (or anything distracting) during indicated times. Apple also has a feature that allows you to set a certain amount of time to spend on indicated apps. If you go above this limit, the app will be blocked. By blocking all your distractions you can remain productive while working from home.
To set this up on your iphone go to screentime < downtime or screentime < app limits.
Tips to stay productive while working from home AFTER you finished
Keep your weekend your weekend
That means, no working on Saturday or Sunday! No-one works 7/7, that’s simply not doable. You’ll get stressed, overworked and eventually burned out…
Keep your days off like you normally would do (or change them to another day in the week, but take the same amount of time off)!
This way you’ll keep working in your usual rhythm as if you were working in an office. No escaping the weekend anymore!
This is a very important productivity hack: go outside your house!
Working from home all day will have the negative side effect that you’re locked in 8 hours a day. It’s very important to make some efforts to go outside as well! A normal person would go crazy when being locked up in a room for days or weeks!
The best thing you could do is going for a walk while you take a break or practising some sports like running! Anything to get your nose out! Your brains deserve some fresh air!
Review your day
Last but not least, it’s only by reviewing your day that you’ll know how to improve it and be your most productive self!
I have the habit to look back at the past week and evaluate what has been good or what could be done better. For example, if I notice that I’ve spent way too many hours watching totally useless Youtube videos, I’ll jot it down and take it into account for my upcoming week.
This allows me to reflect on how I could improve my current working methods. Anything that makes me loose a lot of time can probably be improved!
I already told you that I use a planner for this. Somehow this planner holds me accountable for achieving my goals and reflecting on my working methods. So, I want to stress one more time how important a good planner is and how much influence it can have on your productivity! The planner I use can be found here.
Let’s start being productive now!
Now that you’ve read my tips for being productive while working from home, it’s time to take action!
Hold yourself accountable for implementing these tips and bringing about change in your productivity!
I wish you all the best of luck in implementing these productivity tips and tricks! If you’d like more information on planning your future travels you can always read my post on how to start planning for your next trip!
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