Whether you’ve been working from home for years or started at the beginning of the pandemic, here are some tips for working from home that will boost your productivity and your work/life balance.
This blog contains affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission when you purchase through links, but all opinions are my own and I appreciate your support.
Do you find yourself constantly distracted while working from home? Or lacking a productive routine? Perhaps you feel like you’re unable to “turn off.” Or maybe not working enough.
When I first started working from home, I found myself running into two issues:
I had days where I struggled to stay on-task. I’d get distracted by everything and the smallest task seemed to take me all day. But then I had days where I couldn’t turn off. I worked through my meals and barely remembered to use the bathroom.
Lack of structure will cause anyone to feel unproductive or burnt out so implementing these tips for working from home will elevate your productivity and work/life balance.
Ready to dive in and get productive?
Need-to-Know Tips for Working From Home That Will Increase Your Productivity
- Create a routine and stick with it. This has been one of the most challenging parts of my work-from-home experience — especially since I work for myself — but I find that I’m so much more productive when I stick to one.
I use different alarms throughout the day to maintain a schedule and personally, that has really worked for me!
- Get up and get ready for the day. Like, actually shower, put clean clothes on (even if it’s just some leggings and a sweatshirt), pop on some mascara, and get ready to rock out the day! It will help you feel more energized and motivated. Check out my blog on Comfy Work From Home Wardrobe Essentials for Women.
- Take breaks. If you were in the office, you’d probably take 5 to go chat with a co-worker, fill up your water bottle, hit up the cafeteria for lunch, etc.
Make sure you are incorporating those breaks into your workday at home as well. Even a 5-minute break will help clear your mind and feel more refreshed. Don’t feel guilty for needing a moment away from your computer.
- Have a designated workspace to separate work from home. I think one of the most challenging parts about working from home is that you always feel like you are at work, which can be a toxic environment or you always feel like you are home, which can be an unproductive environment.
For months I was working at my dining table and was constantly distracted by wanting to do the dishes, clean the kitchen, vacuum, etc. because that was my work view!
I know it’s not practical for everyone, but try to create a small corner or room in your home that is designated solely for work. This should be separate from where you sleep and relax. That way, when you go to sit and work, it feels like an office and you won’t have as many distractions.
If space is an issue, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
- Turn off distractions. When you’re home, the temptation is literally everywhere. You have the tv, your phone, your laundry, etc. It can turn into an endless black hole of unproductivity.
Stay clear from working in rooms that have distractions and use an app like Flora to keep you off your phone if you insist on having it next to you.
- If others are also home, create some ground rules. Make sure to set some boundaries to limit distractions such as giving those in your household set times that they can/cannot interrupt you.
On the other hand, if you are the only person working from home, be clear with expectations. Just because someone is working at home doesn’t mean they are working any less hard than someone else.
For instance, your spouse shouldn’t assume that now that you’re working at home, you will walk the dog every day. If this is part of your dynamic, that’s fine! But make sure you both have realistic expectations of what you are/are not capable of now that you’re home more.
- Overcommunicate with co-workers. Before, it was so easy to give someone a quick project update while passing their office or touching base after a meeting.
Send regular emails or messages to your team with project updates, questions, schedule changes, etc. Great communication is more important than ever and will really stand out to your boss(es).
- Ask for what you need. If you need certain equipment to make your job easier at home, ask for it! Most employers have supply budgets that are meant for this type of stuff, but please be practical with your requests and don’t go overboard.
But, if you are self-employed or are just looking to amp up your own office space, check out this list of 25+ must-have work from home essentials to boost your productivity.
- Don’t feel like you HAVE to be at home. Not everyone has an ideal home situation for being productive. If you’d feel more productive in a coffee shop or outdoors, find a space that works for you! BUT, if you are going to work in a public, indoor setting, be sure to wear a mask.
- Work when you’re most productive. Remember how we talked about routines? Well, make sure it’s centered around your productivity peaks.
For instance, I am most productive mid-afternoon (1-5 pm). I only schedule myself for a couple of hours in the morning and use that time on simple tasks such as answering emails. After my afternoon break is when I feel the most refreshed so that’s when I do the bulk of my work.
- Focus on one task at a time. Distractions are at an all-time high and I don’t know how many times I have started multiple tasks within an hour, only to complete…none of them.
Using a time tracking app or focus timer will help you stay on task and get things done more efficiently.
If you want to learn how to effectively manage your time, I HIGHLY suggest reading the book, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
- Don’t start your day by checking emails. Emails are a sure way to fall down a rabbit hole of distractions. Instead, start with your most important task of the day.
It might sound like an exhausting way to begin your day, but I promise, you’ll feel so much more productive and will end up getting more done.
- Interact with other humans. Whether you send a non-related message to a co-worker or meet a friend for lunch, make sure you are interacting with people outside of your household. Your sanity will thank you.
- End your workday at the same time, every day. Obviously, there are exceptions with hard deadlines and meetings, but seriously, now that there’s no rush to go home, it’s super important to plan an end to your workday.
If your work’s technology allows it, schedule your emails and DM’s to “go to sleep” at 5:00 pm. Or set clear expectations with your team that after a certain time, you will be wrapping things up and logging off for the night.
- Don’t forget to exercise. Whether you go for a walk or do a mid-afternoon cardio session, make sure you are taking time to care for your body! If you need some home exercise equipment, check out my latest blog on the 15 Exercise Accessories to Get In Shape at Home.
- Plan for the day ahead. One of the best things that the book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time taught me was to plan ahead.
At the end of each workday, create a list of the top three most important tasks to get done the next day. That way, when you sit down at your desk in the morning, you already know exactly what you have to do and won’t have to spend time figuring out what to work on.
- Find a solid organizational system. Whether you use lists, post-it’s, or a digital system like Trello, finding a system that works for you is critical to your personal project management.
If one method isn’t working as effectively as you’d like, be open to trying something new, but I would suggest testing it for at least 3 weeks before jumping into something new.
- Be easy on yourself. If the pandemic is what caused you to start working from home, keep in mind that this is still a very new adjustment for you.
Don’t feel guilty for throwing in that load of laundry between meetings or going on a run during your lunch break. Because you know what? Your boss and their boss are all doing the same things and that’s just part of the nature of working at home. So give yourself some credit and be proud of the work you do.