12 Work From Home Tips For Max Productivity
7-Minute ReadDecember 21, 2021
When the pandemic began, millions of people found themselves working from home indefinitely, many for the first time. And while plenty of people have returned to the office, many people are still working from home. In fact, the pandemic was the impetus for many companies to implement telecommuting policies and allow employees to work from home permanently.
There’s no doubt that working from home is a big change from the office. While some may have preferred the work-at-home life, others may have seen their productivity take a hit.
Not to worry, though. This guide will give you practical tips for working from home productively, including carving out a designated workspace, eliminating distractions, and many more. Read on to find out everything you need to know about making this work-from-home era a success.
Top Tips For Working From Home Efficiently
With just a few changes, you can optimize your space and routine to maximize your efficiency working from home. Below are 12 tips sure to boost your productivity.
1. Carve Out A Dedicated Work Space
When you think of working from home, you may have visions of you sitting with your laptop on the couch or at the dining room table. But the reality is that’s not the best for your productivity.
If you can swing it, designate a room in your home where you can get away and focus. It doesn’t have to be a fancy home office, just one that’s specifically meant for you to work. Not only will this help to reduce the distractions caused by the rest of your family or your running to-do list of household chores, but it will also help you to get into the work mindset.
If setting aside an entire room in your home isn’t feasible, it’s still possible to set aside a designated workspace. It could be as simple as a desk set up in your bedroom or another space where you won’t be distracted.
Another pro tip: Make sure the space you choose to work is actually a place where you’ll do your work.
“Don’t work where you rest,” Aly Saunders, a marketing copywriter for Alpine Electronics, advises. “I try not to work where I normally relax in my home.”
While it may be tempting to do most of your daily work from the comfort of your bed or couch, it can be harder to get into a working mindset when you’re too relaxed. Stay professional – and upright.
2. Stick To A Routine
When you’ve worked in an office or a setting outside your home, you probably had a routine in place. You woke up at a certain time to get ready, drove to work, settled into your workday, drove home, etc. It was easy to fall into a routine simply because you had set work hours.
When it comes to working from home, creating a routine can be a bit more difficult, and you have to be intentional about it. It’s important to maintain regular working hours that you devote to your job each day.
Not only is working set hours important but so is the routine before you even start work. If you’re simply rolling out of bed and walking to your desk in the morning, you probably aren’t mentally ready to dive into work. Instead, wake up earlier like you would if you worked outside the home.
Get dressed – even if it’s just a different pair of sweatpants – eat breakfast and do anything else you need to be both physically and mentally ready for the day.
3. Set Boundaries With Family Members
When you’re working from home, the line between “work” and “home” can get fuzzy. And it’s even fuzzier if you have kids or other family members at home with you while you’re working. But for the sake of your work, it’s important for remote workers to set boundaries, both for themselves and their other family members.
First, create boundaries for yourself. When you’re at work, be fully present at work. Avoid busying yourself with household chores or other distractions around the home. Separating these activities will be essential for your work-life balance.
It’s also important to set boundaries for the other family members in your home. If you have children at home while you’re working, make sure they understand the expectations during this time. If they’re older, you might have a conversation with them about making sure they respect your work hours. For younger kids, you might spend some time each morning planning a few activities for them that will keep them busy.
If you have help from another adult, such as a partner or family member, get together to work out a schedule for who can take care of the kids throughout the day. If you’re both working during the day, maybe you can work out a schedule that allows you to take turns while the other gets work done.
4. Take Breaks
If you’ve worked outside the home before, you probably had breaks built into your workday. Maybe you took lunch breaks each day or spent some time socializing with workers in the break room or around the water cooler.
For some reason, many of us throw these breaks to the wayside when we’re working from home. In fact, many people worked even longer hours during the pandemic, simply because they were home with their laptops and there was little else to do.
Taking breaks is just as important for remote workers as it is for anyone else. Set aside time in your day for lunch and a few opportunities throughout the day to get up and stretch your legs. These breaks can help reset your mind and body, as well as help you avoid burnout.
5. Upgrade Technology
During the pandemic, many people found themselves working remotely with technology that wasn’t quite up to the job. Maybe it was an old computer, a slow internet plan, or a cheap wireless router that slows down your work.
When remote work was only temporary, it was easy to overlook these minor inconveniences. But if you’re working from home on a more permanent basis, it’s important to have technology that works.
First, if your computer is old and slows you down, it might be time to replace it. If you’re self-employed, start setting aside money each month until you have room in the budget. And if you work for an employer, talk to your boss about the importance of having workable technology.
Next, consider upgrading your internet or router. Slow internet can significantly reduce your productivity for the day. Not only that, but it’s downright frustrating. Even a minor upgrade can make a big difference in this area.
6. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions exist no matter where you work. In an office, the distractions include chatty coworkers, unnecessary meetings, and other background noise. And unfortunately, many of these are unavoidable.
Working from home brings with it a whole different set of distractions. But the good news is that you have more control over them. First, identify what your biggest distractions are. They might include social media, a sink full of dishes, the television, or other projects around the house.
If overdue housework is distracting you from your work, then set aside time in either the morning or evening to tackle it. That way, it’s done when you start your workday, and you won’t find yourself thinking about the sink full of dirty dishes or the hamper full of dirty laundry.
Next, set very clear boundaries around when you’re allowed to pick up the phone or turn on the television. Maybe you decide you’ll let yourself watch one episode of your favorite show during lunch each day, or you’ll take a five-minute social media break each hour.
The biggest distractions will vary from one person to the next, so it’s all about finding what you’re most distracted by and making a plan to address it.
7. Make Time To Socialize With Coworkers
Working remotely can make it hard to form bonds with your coworkers. And you may even find that without a relationship with your boss or coworkers, you simply aren’t as invested in the work. For that reason, making time to socialize with coworkers can actually be great for your productivity.
If you work from home, make a concentrated effort to get to know your coworkers. If you’re located in different cities, you could participate in or suggest a virtual happy hour. If your coworkers live in the same area, you could even do an in-person meet-up.
Remember that you can start small. If you have regular video calls with your work team, try making time at the start of the call for everyone to share something exciting they did over the weekend, something they’re looking forward to, or their favorite hobby they’ve been spending their free time on. Just a small change like that can help create a bond.
8. Log Off After Work
When you work from home, the temptation to continue working into the evening can be strong, especially if you’re single or live alone. Unfortunately, working long hours can quickly lead to burnout and resentment toward your job.
Unfortunately, many bosses make it difficult to close the laptop for the day by sending emails or instant messages after working hours.
As a remote worker, you’re the only one who can set these boundaries for yourself. Just as you set boundaries with family so you can concentrate during work hours, it’s important to set boundaries with coworkers, your boss, and yourself to prevent work from spilling into the non-working hours.
If your boss contacts you after working hours and expects a response, have a conversation with them about what hours you’re available for work. It might be that they’re working in the evening and so that’s when they’re emailing you, but that they don’t expect you to respond until your work hours. But unfortunately, it often requires a more serious conversation about boundaries.
And just as it can be difficult to set boundaries for coworkers and bosses, it can be equally difficult to set boundaries for yourself. One way to help get out of the habit of working late is to create an evening routine. Maybe you decide that at 5 p.m. each day, you’ll close your laptop and go for a walk through the neighborhood. Creating that physical separation can really do the trick.
Another option is to plan an activity you’re looking forward to after work. When you’re grabbing a drink with your best friend or doing your favorite hobby, it will be a lot easier to convince yourself to close the laptop. It can make a world of difference for your mental health and productivity.
9. Change Up Your Surroundings
We’ve talked about the importance of having a routine and a designated workspace. But sometimes, the best way to boost your productivity is to change up your surroundings. Working and living in the same space day after day can become stale, especially if you live alone or don’t leave the house often on the nights and weekends.
To help give your mind and body a bit of a refresh, consider changing up your surroundings once in a while. Find a local coffee shop that has a good environment for working, or even research coworking space in your area.
Sometimes, changing your surroundings doesn’t even have to mean leaving your home. For example, consider getting a standing desk or standing desk attachment. Every time you feel yourself falling into a productivity rut, change positions. Just standing up for a couple of hours during your workday can be surprisingly energizing.
10. Plan Your Workday Strategically
One of the best ways to boost your workday productivity is to plan your tasks strategically. There are likely certain times of the day when you focus better.
Maybe it’s that you focus really well in the morning, but then find your productivity waning in the afternoon. In that case, plan your most important tasks that require a lot of focus for the first half of your day. Then the more mindless administrative tasks can be done in the afternoon.
You can also plan your workday around your environment. Maybe you know that your neighborhood has landscapers that come first thing in the morning, and they tend to make a lot of noise. You can make the most of your schedule by avoiding having calls or very focused work during that time.
11. Set Boundaries with People Outside Your Home
We’ve already talked about the importance of setting boundaries with your boss, the people in your home, and even yourself. But you may also have to set boundaries with friends and family outside your home.
People who have never worked from home may not fully understand what it looks like. They picture a lax schedule and the ability to take a break whenever you want. And unfortunately, they may take advantage of that. You might have friends inviting you to long weekday lunches or local family asking for favors during the workday.
It’s up to you to set appropriate boundaries for these situations. Tell your friends and family that you work from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day (or whatever your actual work hours are) and that you’re only available to meet up or help them with a favor outside of those hours.
12. Take Your Sick Days
When you work from home, it’s easy to talk yourself out of calling in sick. After all, why bother taking a sick day? You can stay home in your pajamas with tea or cough medicine in hand without risking getting any of your coworkers sick.
Anyone who has tried to work through a cold or flu can attest to the fact that you simply aren’t as productive. You’re tired, your head is foggy, and it can be hard to focus.
You might think you’re doing your boss and your coworkers a favor by toughing it out instead of taking a sick day. But you probably won’t be doing your best work, and it certainly won’t be your most productive work. Instead, do what’s best for yourself and take a day or two to rest before returning to work refreshed.
And when you’re on a sick day, resist the urge to check your email or turn on your laptop to get a few things done.
The Bottom Line: Set Yourself Up For Success When Working From Home
Millions of people found themselves working from home during the pandemic, and for many of those workers, the change has been permanent. And while remote work might seem like a dream come true, it also comes with its unique challenges. Because of that, you’ll likely need to implement a few changes in your home and your mindset to be the most productive.
One of the perks of being a remote worker is that you can do your job from anywhere. If you’re a remote worker or are considering becoming one, be sure to explore the best cities for remote workers. Many of these cities stand out for their affordability, broadband availability, environmental factors, recreation and activities to partake in, and more.