I have been working from home for a year now due to the pandemic and there have been a few things I’ve learned along the way. I’ve always had the ability to work from home but I was against it because I always felt like I wouldn’t be productive. I’ve always been the type to show up to work ready to dive in and commit until the day is done. I enjoyed being in work mode in the office and relaxed at home. Working from home during the pandemic forced me to adjust and find ways to maintain my productivity. Now I’m able to share a few ways I have learned that may help anyone trying to adjust to a new normal and keep your productivity up.
1. Find a Quiet Workspace
The first thing you need to do is find a quiet space in your home that doesn’t have a lot of noise. It may sound easier than it is but most people don’t realize how much noise and distractions going on during the day at your home. A quiet place can limit distractions and allow you to be professional on important meetings and calls. Usually, a room with a TV directly in front of you can lead you to turn the TV on and start watching. For some people, the quiet space at your home may be outside in your backyard. I suggest finding a space that allows you to work uninterrupted at most times. I learned pretty early on that I and my wife can’t work in the same space. When we are both on calls things get confusing for anyone on the other line. We also have a Ring doorbell chime that we have to put on snooze because it goes off all day. Along with that, our dog goes crazy every time the chime goes off or someone walks past our house. As far as kids, luckily our son is in middle school virtually so he doesn’t usually interrupt us during work. If you have younger kids home while you are working just do the best you can.
2. Get Comfortable
The next thing I would advise is to get comfortable. Working from home usually means you will be in your workspace for an extended at least a few hours. I highly suggest comfortable seating and workspace. I’ve gone through a few different chairs and seats to find the one that allows me to be comfortable sitting in for extended periods while I work. An uncomfortable chair usually makes me shift around several times to try to find one that doesn’t hurt or frustrate me. Along with that, I would say get all the things you usually have to get up for that may take time away from being productive such as water and snacks. Before I sit down, I usually get plenty of water and snacks so I don’t have to worry about getting up to find some. Getting away from my workspace can cause me to get distracted. Having snacks and drinks an arms reach away can allow you to stay on task while still getting the hydration or nutrients you need to keep going.
3. Prioritize Work
The next thing you will want to do to stay productive is prioritizing your work. As difficult as it may sound, it can help keep your head straight when trying to figure out which tasks you need to tackle first. Prioritization helps put the focus on your most important tasks first while allowing you to track and plan the day. Prioritizing tasks has been something I’ve been doing for a while but it has become more helpful while working from home. As new tasks arise, you may need to shuffle some things around but you will still have a general list of things to reference. Now there will be days when something big comes up that completely blows up your list, but for most days this prioritized list will help guide you through your day in case you get off course.
4. Schedule Your Tasks
After prioritizing, the next important thing to do is schedule your tasks. As much as I dislike organization and scheduling, it can be helpful for productivity. Now this task may sound boring but it can be a lifesaver. Once you have a list of prioritized tasks, I suggest scheduling a time to work on each task. I learned that if I scheduled some of my tasks on my calendar at certain times, it allowed me to block out a dedicated time to work on those tasks while also reminding me of what I still have outstanding. If you have Microsoft Outlook you can set the task as an appointment and block the time on your calendar if you know you have a task to do. This method gives you a specific time to do a task and keeps people from setting up meetings on your calendar.
5. Take Breaks
The last and maybe most important thing to do is to take breaks. It’s as easy as it sounds. Just because you are working from home you can’t forget to take time to get a mental break from your work. If you feel yourself getting tired or frustrated take a minute to step away, clear your mind, and think about something else for a moment. This method can allow you to come back to a task or an issue with a clear mind and a new perspective. I have used this to trick my brain into attacking tasks in a different way, which usually helps solve problems in a way that I didn’t originally think of. If you can, try to space your longer 10–15 minute breaks over a 2–3 hour time frame. I also love to eat, so definitely take a lunch break as well. Remember, taking a break isn’t intended to be a constant thing to do to avoid complex tasks. Its only purpose is to allow you time to regroup and decompress for a moment.
Now that you have learned the five ways I stay productive, go ahead and try them for yourself. Some may work for you or a variation of some may work better. I also recommend experimenting with your ideas and see how it turns out. Let me know what you do to stay productive while working from home. I would love to try some new ways also. I’m always looking for new ways to be productive.