Many people used to fantasize about working from home. Visions of glorious remote-workday mornings, dressed in sweatpants with a steaming cup of coffee and a comfy couch, danced before their eyes. Working from home productively would be a piece of cake.
Then … BAM, reality struck.
Many of us are suddenly working from home, with a working-from-home spouse and one or more schooling-from-home children. And productivity has become a constant, very real struggle.
Help is here. These tips will help you avoid the top distractions that many people are fighting as they transition to working remotely.
9 Tips That Will Help You Work from Home Productively
Want to turn your working from home frustration into working from home productivity? Read through this list and change up your work-from-home workday. If it’s overwhelming, focus on changing one item each day.
1. Designate a Home Office or Work Station Area
The key is to get out of the high traffic areas and find a quiet room where you can focus. Stay away from kitchens or TV rooms where people hang out. Move your desk and desk chair to a room or quiet area, facing away from distractions. If you don’t have a desk, a table and a supportive chair (no couches!) will do.
When deciding where you want to locate your home office area, think about what makes you productive at the office. Music in the background or quiet? Looking out a window, or not looking out a window? It varies for each person.
If you have a lot of “stuff” that clutters up your desk, consider using a bookshelf or putting a coffee table nearby to keep the clutter on. This allows you to keep your desk open and uncluttered. Having a visually uncluttered work area helps you focus.
2. Develop a Morning Routine to Follow
Make a list of items that need to happen before you start work, adding in the distractions that have been interrupting your workday. Make a morning routine to get the must-do’s done so they don’t distract you after you sit down.
Tape it up in your kitchen and go through this list before starting work each day.
Use it to help your morning timing as well. Work backwards. Once you make the list, you should be able to estimate the time you need to get all items done. Use that to decide what time you need to get up, shower and get dressed.
3. Schedule Breaks and Let Your Kids Know When They Will Be
If you have kids, set periodic break times so the kids know when you can help them with homework, get them a snack, or just be there to talk to.
Set your work hours, add your breaks, then print and post your schedule around the house.
In addition to helping your kids, use your breaks to get a healthy snack, take a quick walk, or at least go outside for a breath of fresh air.
4. Start the Day by Making a To-do List
When you sit down at your desk, scan yesterday’s to-do list, and today’s calendar then create a new list of tasks you want to accomplish that day. List tasks in order of priority, and add an estimated time to complete to make sure your list is realistic for accomplishing that day.
5. Dress Productively
What you wear each day can make a huge impact on your mental outlook and work efficiency. When you dress for the day, put on an outfit that you feel good about. It doesn’t have to be a suit or dress, but even jeans mixed with a sharp-looking shirt or sweater will give you more zing. If you feel good about yourself, you are more motivated. Save sweats and sweatshirts for “treat” days – create your own casual Fridays!
Take a shower too… you never know when an impromptu Zoom meeting will pop up.
6. Turn off Notifications on Your Cell and Computer
Interruptions are a huge drain on productivity and efficiency. Each time you are interrupted it takes time to get your thought process back in the groove of what you were working on.
When you start work, turn off these interruptions and you will achieve your tasks much faster. If you need to, set aside specific times in your daily schedule to check emails or phone messages.
7. Make Time Each Evening to Connect with Family
When the workday is over, make time to connect with your spouse and your kids.
If you have kids, ask about their day and listen (don’t multitask!) to their stories. Make sure they don’t need more homework help.
Play a family game or go for a family walk. If you connect with them each day, you will fill their emotional cup and they will be less likely to need attention during the workday.
Connect with your spouse as well. Take time to share stories about your day and check schedules for tomorrow.
8. Be Realistic
Acknowledge that some days will be more productive than others. It was like that at work, so don’t feel like a failure when it happens at home. At work a coworker comes into your office and talks for half an hour, at home your kid has a tough math problem and you need to help them. It all balances out.
Still struggling? Make a list of your toughest distractions, then brainstorm how to minimize them.
Can you schedule them into your daily routine? Do you need to change your desk location to avoid them? Put your work or personal cell phone in another room to avoid constant interruptions?
Be creative and think outside the box.
You CAN Work from Home Productively
Working remotely is a huge adjustment. The struggle is real, and you are not the only person trying to figure out ways to turn frustration into productivity.
As you make small changes from the list above, you will slowly but surely create a work routine and environment that empowers you to be productive, happy, and successful.
Looking for additional ways to make your workweek more productive? Read 7 Essential Monday Morning Habits That Set Your Work Week Up for Success and learn how to start each week off on the right foot.
If you find that day after day you have too many tasks to realistically accomplish, it may be time to consider adding an Online Business Manager to your team.
Robin Kramer is an Online Business Manager that has been working with small businesses for 23 years. She can help you analyze your overwhelming to-do list to identify what tasks need your executive expertise, and which ones she can manage for you to free your valuable time.
To learn more about Robin’s skills and how she could help your business, contact her for a free consultation today