Updated: Jun 11
Having to work from home can be a major productivity drain if you’re not used to it. Whether you choose to work from home or whether you’re forced to do so because of a worldwide pandemic doesn’t really make that much difference. It is a huge change that you need to get used to all the same. To set yourself up for success, be sure to follow these 5 tips.
1. Get dressed for work
Even though it may be tempting to do so, don’t stay in your pyjamas all day long. It will not make you feel like work and you will be likely to get a lot less done than if you’re “dressed for success”. And this means all the way down to your feet. Wearing a smart(ish) top just so that you look professional on your Zoom calls won’t cut it. You still won’t feel the part if you bottom half is in sweat pants.
Do whatever you normally do to go to work, that includes hair, make-up, etc. It will put you much more in a work frame of mind than slouching around with a bed head all day. It signals to your mind that it’s time to “get to work”.
2. Have a separate work space
This will, of course, depend on your available space. If you have a spare bedroom, use it as your office. If you don’t, dedicate a special corner of a room and set up shop there. Create a little working area if you can that will signal your body and mind, it’s now work time.
Having to work on your dining room table is less than ideal as you will have to clear it off every day to make room for dinner. If it’s a dedicated area, you can style it more like a proper desk, maybe adding a calendar, some pictures, a container for stationery and a little pot plant. You’ll feel more like working if your surroundings are right which will increase your productivity.
3. Take regular breaks
If you’re at work, you are likely to take breaks during the day. You’ll pop out for lunch, walk over to a colleague’s desk for a chat or a few minutes early into the meeting room for a catch-up with colleagues. When you work from home, all this goes out the window. You are glued to your desk, probably eating there, having meetings there and you don’t get up all day.
To combat this, set yourself a timer at least once an hour and get away from your desk. Whether you’ll make yourself a hot drink, put on a load of laundry or sit in a different place to chill for a few minutes, doesn’t really matter. It’s important that you give your mind a break.
You could also catch up with a friend or colleague, checking in on them. Create virtual “water cooler moments” that you miss by working from home. You’ll be more refreshed when you get back and this will improve your productivity.
And definitely have your lunch somewhere else in your home, in your garden or on your balcony if the weather is good, to top up your vitamin D. Getting your necessary vitamin D will boost your mood and with it your productivity.
4. Stick to dedicated working hours
Reinstate your regular working hours and stick to them rigorously. Do you normally work from 9 to 5? There is no reason why you should work any more at home. Just because you live in the same space as you work doesn’t mean you have to be available 24/7. Use the time you don’t spend on a commute productively by introducing yoga, meditation or exercise to your daily routine in the morning.
And in the evening, shut down your computer like you would at work. And don’t go back at 9 or 10pm to check emails. It’s your spare time. Do something fun. Whether that’s reading, working on a hobby, watching telly or being creative – it’s your time. You need this time to refresh and re-energise for the next day.
The same goes for weekends or days off. Don’t turn on the computer, don’t be available. It’s your free time that you need to recharge so that you can be productive during your working hours.
5. Have a doable to-do list
Finally, create yourself a to-do list you can commit to. I recommend a two-tier system. Create a master to-do list for the week on a Sunday evening or Monday morning. What can you realistically get done during the week? What do you need to get done? Then every day, pick 3-5 items from that list. That’s your to-do list for the day. If you’re finished before the end of the day, simply pick another item from the list and feel proud that you’re an overachiever. 😉
I recommend you do this on paper. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing something you’ve finished off a list or putting a great big tick next to it.
You can also add another tier, the brain dump. Every time something pops into your mind, add it to the brain dump list. This can then be used to create the weekly master list.
If you would like to improve your productivity while working from home, check out my online course: How to stay productive while working from home. It covers everything from setting up a suitable work space, planning, reducing distractions, improving your focus and much more. It's everything you need to make working from home everything you always wanted it to be. 😊