Now that I’ve been working from home for over 6 months (and loving every second), I wanted to share my best tips for staying productive while working from home because I know it can be a struggle.
I have pretty bad ADD and have struggled with it my whole life. I’m VERY easily distracted by things, and when you’re home all day, it’s easy for your home life to mix in with your work life. Sometimes when I’m sitting in the living room and I see some dishes that need to be put away in the kitchen or if there’s papers laying out, I want to deal with them.
But the key to staying productive lies in ignoring, minimizing or eliminating those distractions!
The things on this list are all probably things you’ve heard before, but here’s a new thing to think about: it’s all your choice! Your day is 100% in your hands. You can make the choice to apply any and all these tips for a better and productive work day. And I promise, if you practice that self-discipline muscle, it’ll get stronger and you’ll get better at it! I speak from experience as someone who is truly lazy at heart.
Tip 1: Keep your phone out of reach
I’m legit addicted to my phone. Since I use it for my blog, I’m constantly doing things on it. But that does nothing for helping me have a productive work day, so I keep my phone just out of my own reach, facing down. I don’t want to see notifications pop up and I don’t want to be able to grab it easily to check it. It’s best if it’s far enough away that you need to actually get up to get it.
I have a separate work phone which makes that easier, but if you need your phone for work there are other ways to minimize this distraction:
– Turn off notifications
– Set time aside for breaks
Tip 2: Plan out your day first thing
Have a calendar and use it! Whether it’s on your phone, computer or a hand written one on your desk, have a plan and a general layout for your day. Look at it each morning so you know what to expect and you can work around things if need be. I also take a look on Monday what the week has in store so I know if there are specific things I need to work on throughout the week, too. Feeling prepared helps with productivity.
Tip 3: Set a To Do List with a Top 3
My job can be a bit chaotic as I’m sure most people’s can be! So my best way to combat that is to set a to-do list every day and of those to-dos, I set a top 3 that I need to get accomplished. When possible, I strive to get those 3 things done first. If I get only those 3 things accomplished, it really makes me feel like I’ve done what I needed to and sometimes you just need those little wins. And if you do the same things every day, it still feels so good to check things off because you can physically see the work you’ve done. I promise, it’s surprisingly motivating!
Tip 4: Keep things clean and tidy
I’m one of those people that can not focus if there is clutter/messiness around me. I know that about myself. So at night/first thing in the morning, I clean up and take care of anything that I know will distract me during the day. I also make my bed first thing in the morning because 1, it starts my day off with having completed something and 2, I need it made to focus.
Tip 5: Designate yourself a work space
You need a space to keep your work related things. I actually have a desk set up to work from home and I never use it, I prefer to work from the couch. I know some people like to move around their house and change it up sometimes. Do whatever works for you! But stay organized! If you have paperwork, keep it in one spot that doesn’t move. And make it your own, decorate your space and make it feel like the boss version of you.
Tip 6: Take breaks and eat lunch!
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in work when there’s no one around to remind you it’s time for lunch! It’s important to get up, move around and take breaks during the day. My fur babies force me to get up to let them out, which I appreciate, and I also make sure to get up and make myself lunch to give my brain a mid-day break. You need to recharge a little bit before you tackle the afternoon!
Tip 7: Time block to the best of your abilities
This one can be particularly difficult if you deal with a lot of time sensitive things, but it does help to set time aside for specific tasks. I have specific times on different days that I dedicate to certain tasks. I like to think of those times as a meeting with myself. Even though it’s just me, those are still times that I need to be 100% dedicated to that task. I don’t answer my phone or check emails during those times to make sure I get through it completely. This really helps with the amount of progress I make in that allotted time!
Tip 8: Get up early
I know, who wants to get up early when you can just roll out of bed and walk to your “office” in 30 seconds. But getting up early and having time before you actually start working is crucial to having a productive day. Give yourself an extra 30 minutes (minimum) to an hour, or more if you want! You can get a few things done before you start work, like the making the bed thing and tidying up. There is nothing I hate more than feeling rushed, so getting up early, making my coffee and going about my routine at my own pace always starts the day off right.
Tip 9: Create a routine & stick to it!
Speaking of routines: create one and stick to it!! I used to literally roll out of bed and start working. Sometimes I would work FROM my bed! I didn’t do my hair or make up or change out of my PJs. And while lazy me was thrilled and living her best life, professional me found herself quickly feeling frumpy and unmotivated. I knew I needed to get back into a routine, even if it wasn’t exactly the same as going to the office.
Tip 10: Make getting ready part of your routine
Even though I don’t leave the house most days, I still make it a point to get ready every day. I style my hair (even if that means in a bun), I put on some make up, and I get dressed. Three crucial things to making me feel productive. Even if it’s changing from my PJs into leggings and a sweatshirt, I still make sure to change my clothes. And I have video meetings most days, so I need to look presentable for those. I don’t do my full makeup every day, but I always do foundation (thanks to my uneven skin), mascara and some lip color, even if it’s just tinted chapstick. Having this as part of your morning routine will 100% make you feel more productive and ready for your day.
Tip 11: Minimize digital distractions
I find that while I like having noise in the background, having the TV on is very distracting for me. If you can’t stand the quiet, listen to music with no words (either classical or piano/instrumental versions of songs you love) OR listen to music in another language! I love listening to French music. I can’t understand it so it doesn’t distract me, but still sounds nice.
Tip 12: Set time boundaries
It’s easy to overwork yourself when you work from home. Make sure to set times to start and times to STOP so you don’t burn yourself out. This is crucial to staying productive so you’re actually re-energized every day and not constantly in work mode. Taking breaks and stopping at the same time everyday is necessary for your brain and sanity!
Tip 13: Avoid house work during work hours
During the day when you’re working, so be at work. To stay productive, don’t get distracted by household chores. If you can get something done during a break, that’s one thing. But don’t try to multitask. Designate work time for work and home time for afterward. Any time I’ve tried to overlap them I get too distracted one way or the other.
The key to staying productive is making the choice to stay focused. The more you remind yourself and practice, the better you’ll get!
Which tip is your favorite?