When it comes to working from home, being productive can be a challenge. From animals to house chores, there are a lot of distractions that can wreak havoc on your efficiency. In this article, we cover 11 tips to help you build—and stick—to a routine and increase your productivity at home.
There are so many benefits to working from home—having a flexible work schedule and spending more time with loved o nes are just a couple. But for remote workers, staying productive can be challenging at times.
When your animals need attention or your laundry needs folding, how do you stay efficient while still enjoying the comforts of home?
To help you get your tasks done while working from home, we put together 11 of the best tips to promote productivity and efficiency. By following these best practices, you’ll be able to perform at your best while enjoying all of the benefits of working in your PJs.
Productivity isn’t something that just appears mid-afternoon. Your work day begins when you sit down to get started, but you can set your daily intentions from the moment you wake up in the morning. Whether it’s starting your day with an aromatic cup of coffee or fitting in a quick workout, creating a healthy routine is essential to promote your best self and work.
An effective morning routine should energize you for the day and inspire you to bring your very best to the virtual office. While everyone’s morning routine will be unique, try:
Fitting in a workout such as yoga, biking, or floor exercises like lunges.
Making a healthy breakfast like eggs or vegetables.
Journaling to reduce stress or practice affirmations.
You can also enlist an accountability partner such as a roommate or family member to ensure you stick to your routine. When you feel good in the morning, you’re best equipped to meet the rest of your day with positivity and motivation.Create a work log template
When it comes to staying productive during the day, daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning can derail you from your work time. To combat this, try prepping these tasks before the workday begins.
For example, meal prep the night before or even the Sunday before a busy work week if you’re able to. This ensures cooking breakfast or lunch won’t derail you from getting your work done.
The same goes for cleaning. If you’re someone who can’t get work done until the housework is complete and the dishes are sparkling, clean up the night before or first thing in the morning. Once you get used to the daily routine of prepping, small household chores won’t eat up your workday, keeping you more productive.
We all have our written, personal to-do lists that we love to cross off. But workplace to-do lists are also a great way to organize, and prioritize your work—not to mention the serotonin boost you get from marking a to-do as “done.”
When it comes to staying productive, writing down your objectives for the day can help prioritize your most important tasks. This ensures you complete your high impact work first.
If you don’t already use a workplace to-do list, try the following steps to get started:
Gather your tasks for the week. List all of your work in one place—like a project management tool—so you have a single, central source of truth.
Identify which tasks need to be completed first. These are your most important tasks for the week. They might be important because there are other task dependencies waiting on this one, or they might be important because they’re directly contributing to your team’s strategic objectives. When you understand your work priorities, you can more effectively organize your to-do list to maximize your high-impact work.
Prioritize the tasks at the top of your list. Whether you do them first thing in the morning or save them for your afternoon sprint, make sure you have a visual on the tasks that need to get done for the day so nothing slips through the cracks.
Check off each completed to-do. Checking things off just feels good, plain and simple. Plus, checking off your to-do lists will give you a clear, organized view of what you’ve done for the day and what’s still left on the docket.
While writing down your tasks is helpful, a to-do list tool makes it easy to adjust deadlines, connect tasks to goals, and communicate with team members—all in the same place.
One big challenge to learning how to work from home is learning to overcome new challenges. The most common challenges we face at home are home life distractions.
Distractions come in many forms. From children running around to the TV on in the background, the daily commotion around you can impact your productivity.
Luckily, there are a few strategies to help you regain control. Try following these three steps throughout your workday:
Designate a room (if available) where you can close the door while working.
Use noise-canceling headphones to minimize outside sound.
Communicate to your housemates that you need quiet time during work hours.
All three methods can help limit daily distractions and ensure you get your work done on time.
When it comes to where you work, it’s important to designate a workspace that fits your needs. One of the most important workspace considerations is finding where you’ll be least distracted. Beyond the location of your workspace, it’s important to create a place you feel comfortable spending time in every day.
It’s a good idea to surround yourself with the resources you need to do your work. These resources might include the usual things like headphones, notebooks, and pens as well as:
An ergonomic chair that doesn’t hurt your back.
Decor that helps reduce stress.
A standing desk to keep your body mobile.
We don’t always have the best home workspace setup—and that’s okay. Regardless of whether you’re working from a separate room or your kitchen counter, there are still steps you can take to differentiate your workspace. Finding ways to differentiate your workspace will make switching from personal life to professional easier.
For example, you might try using:
A candle to cue the start of your day.
A tablecloth to associate with your workspace (that you remove once the work day is over).
No matter where you designate your desk and how you design your space, ensure that it’s a place that energizes you for the day and promotes efficiency.Read: 6 home office hacks to upgrade your space
One of the easiest ways to become distracted is by excessively checking personal and professional apps. From Slack to social media, five minutes can turn into 50 in no time, so it’s key to mute notifications to prevent distraction.
While it can be hard to leave your phone alone all day, there are some ways you can prevent yourself from picking it up. For example, you can turn on distraction mode which will mute app notifications. Another option is to use a physical phone lockbox. With a lockbox, you can set a timer for the amount of time you want to be distraction free. This is especially helpful if you’re procrastinating on a task and can’t seem to complete it with your phone being an easy distraction.
Some teams even choose to lock certain social media channels from being accessed on your computer altogether. Whatever way you achieve this, be sure to avoid all social media during work hours.
You can face the same challenges with work apps. Notifications can derail you from flow state and prevent you from hitting due dates. Mute app notifications during these periods of deep work to stay productive.Create a work log template
On days when you feel disconnected from your teammates, motivating your remote team can be that much harder. That’s why it’s key to communicate and collaborate with your team members as often as possible.
To combat disconnect, keep an open dialogue with your team by connecting virtually and encouraging collaboration. A good way to get started is to lead virtual coffee meetings where team members get to know each other and talk openly about work or their personal lives. Another way is to hold office hours and open brainstorming sessions to encourage 1:1 time between your team. This builds a better group dynamic and contributes to healthy organizational culture.Read: 100+ teamwork quotes to motivate and inspire collaboration
Remote workers are re-learning the boundaries of work and personal life. Without the clear separator of the office and home, it can be challenging to know when to leave work on your desk and when to focus on your home life.
Ignoring these boundaries can lead to burnout. In fact, 71% of workers experienced burnout in 2020. Knowing the signs of being overworked and prioritizing work-life balance is key. Encourage your team members to leave work on their desks at the end of the day and enjoy the activities that make them happy in their personal lives. These activities can include spending time with family, going on walks, and reading a good book.
You can take this one step further by empowering team members to take advantage of their flexible schedule by offering early sign-off days. And, remember to use your own PTO to prioritize your personal agenda.Read: 6 steps to create a daily schedule template (with example)
Working from home comes with its own set of boundaries—from work hours being blurred to virtual meetings throughout the day. Managing your time effectively can prevent procrastination and ensure you get your most important work completed on time.
There are a few different time management tips that can help you manage your time more effectively.
Try the eat the frog method to identify challenging tasks first thing in the morning.
Use the time blocking technique to break your work week into manageable time slots to check your email or work on projects.
Prevent procrastination and boost focus with the Pomodoro Technique.
It’s particularly important to combat Parkinson’s Law—which states that your work will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion. To avoid this problem, make sure you’re scheduling time blocks for your daily tasks to ensure you get your important work done.Read: Are you time blocking your calendar? Here’s why you should start nowCreate a work log template
Sitting inside can be stifling at times—especially without your team members there to talk to. Whether you’re alone at your home office or not, it’s helpful to go for brisk walks throughout the day.
Going for a brisk walk can clear your mind and inspire you to come back to work refreshed. Even simply sitting outside with your favorite drink in hand can be quite rejuvenating.
However you choose to get fresh air, getting outside will lead to better work solutions, encourage better work-life balance, and help you focus on your high-impact work when you get back to your desk.
From juggling video calls to managing your work environment, there’s a lot to tackle in a given day. App overload is increasing multitasking and decreasing productivity. In fact, workers switch 25 times per day across 10 apps to do their work, with 1 in 4 relying on outdated tools like spreadsheets to manage their work.
Work-related tasks, such as searching for information and answers, lead to more work about work. These tasks are a problem for productivity and teams as a whole. Instead, use organization tools to better manage multiple projects and push your time management skills to the next level.
By putting all of your plans and projects in one place, you can keep a level head while balancing your busy schedule and all the distractions of working from home. Organizational tools help you keep track of priorities, streamline your workflows, and make plans clear for your team members.
When it comes to having a productive day at home, family members, inadequate office space, and a busy schedule can make it difficult to get your work done. You also want to keep your mental health top of mind and partake in activities you enjoy in your free time.
It’s all about the perfect balance, but it’s not impossible to achieve. Using the above 11 productivity tips can help you create new habits over time that improve not just your productivity but your overall happiness too.
If you’re looking for help connecting your remote team while improving efficiency, try remote work software. Plan projects, coordinate work, and achieve your goals with Asana.Create a work log template