How to Stay Productive While Working From Home

Working from home and productivity weren’t too well associated in 2020 (and ironically this article was written by Emma after several failed starting attempts and a lot of procrastination!). Despite making her peace with her fluctuating levels of productivity throughout the nine months she spent working from her living room in 2020, Emma has found a few tricks that keep the productivity juices flowing — most of the time!

Move your body in the AM

One of my best productivity tips for working from home is to get up and out in the fresh air first thing. Whether it’s a leisurely 10-minute walk squeezed in before your first Zoom of the day or a full-on HIIT workout, any kind of movement will do wonders for your alertness and general mental focus. Plus, leaving the house and returning again can act like a ‘going to work’ prompt that kicks your mind into work mode.

Have a work kickstarter routine

Think about how your mornings went when you worked in the office, and try to replicate that in your home setup. Did you get in and make a coffee? Did you sit at your desk and read the news for 10 minutes before starting on the tools? Perhaps you caught up with a coworker over breakfast. By replicating whatever used to signal that work time was about to begin, you can leverage your mental memory of that signal to kickstart your work from home productivity first thing!

Time block

Time blocking helps you set structure to your day, and helps you visualize how much is realistically going to get done. Try using a digital calendar app like Google Calendar or iCal and blocking out time for each of the tasks or categories you want to tackle each day. It serves as a nice grounding ritual to start the day, too, which can help with your kickstarter morning routine by bringing your focus and attention to the day ahead.

Remote workers can sometimes face more distractions than those who are office-based so it’s helpful to break up your day into chunks of time using the Pomodoro technique. With this time management technique, you do 50 minutes of deep work and then have a five-minute break for a snack or a little walk around to get the blood flowing. You should refrain from using social media during your break as it can break your focus (but we’re all human so it’s okay to slip up with this one). There are apps such as Forest that can time these blocks for you and set an alarm to let you know when each cycle is over

Find yourself an ‘office space’

When you’re at the office, it’s easy to separate your personal life and work life but for remote work, that line becomes blurred. If you’re working from home, having a designated area where you work can be incredible helpful. While it could be a desk, it doesn’t have to be. It could be your couch or a spare bedroom. Ideally it’s somewhere in the house that you mainly use for work and not other things such as sleeping (looking at you, those who work in bed).

Reward yourself

Treat yourself like a little kid for achieving those pesky tasks that you’ve been putting off all week. Whether it’s a cold glass of wine or your favourite sweet treat, schedule in regular reward breaks to keep yourself motivated. You might also want to stay connected with your colleagues. Going from an office environment where you see each other every day to working at home can be a big change, so factoring in time to chat with your coworkers can actually be really healthy! 

Set a list of non-negotiables

Often we’ll stuff our to-do lists with unachievable amounts of tasks, knowing we’ll never get through it but feeling somehow enticed by the challenge of giving it a crack. This false ambition can actually be crushing our work from home productivity. Instead, break it down to a set of far more achievable non-negotiables. The momentum of completing your micro list will probably propel you to keep on going – but if not, you’ve still ticked some important to-dos off!

‘Eat your frogs’ first

Your ‘frogs’ are the tasks you want to do the least; the ones you always put off and are left grappling with at the end of the day or week. By writing a list of your ‘frogs’ at the end of each day and vowing to tackle them first thing the following morning, you start the day on a high by accomplishing something challenging – plus, all your other tasks seem easier in comparison!

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Emma Edwards is a finance copywriter and blogger, on a mission to humanize the financial services industry by creating meaningful content that’s accessible and empowering. You’ll find her penning money tips at her blog, The Broke Generation, sharing financial insights on Instagram, or injecting life into content for her business clients.

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