It can be a challenge to stay productive when you’re first thrust into the world of remote work. Okay, who are we kidding? It’s always a challenge to remain productive at home. Whether it’s because of the people you live with, the weirdness of just rolling out of bed and into your work desk, or the fact that there’s nobody watching over you so you have to motivate yourself all the time, whatever you struggle with, we have the best productivity tips for working from home.
WFH Productivity Tips
1. Create (& Stick To) A Work Schedule
Stick to certain hours. By scheduling specific times when you’ll be working, you can distinguish between work time and play time. Weirdly enough, this can be difficult when you’re restricted to one space, especially if space is limited and you have to share the same room for working and unwinding. It can be extremely beneficial to have some semblance of a schedule.
In the same category as this, try not to have a lie in just because you have no where to physically go. However, if you find yourself more productive later in the evening, see if that will work with your boss. With async teams, there’s nothing stopping you working when you like so long as the work gets done!
Once you’ve decided on a schedule, let your colleagues know. That way they won’t feel betrayed when you completely ignore them to start your fourth rewatch of Breaking Bad.
2. Build a Workspace
If you want to bring your productivity A game, you’re gonna have to tidy up. Your brain likes organization, whether you want to believe it or not. It sharpens focus and enhances creativity, meaning if you can set the right atmosphere for your work zone, you can pump out the goods.
Go for minimal to reduce distractions. Every item of unnecessary clutter is a tantalizing temptation that will come back to bite you in the ass.
If possible, make sure this workspace is in an area where you won’t be disturbed. If you have other people that live with you, inform them of your space and your work times and politely tell them to stay the f*ck out.
3. Take Regular Breaks
Counterintuitively, you can’t be productive if you work non-stop. Your brain will slip up. Just like all muscles, it needs to rest when being used a lot. The good news is that when you’re trying to be productive working from home, you can take breaks whenever you damn please.
Not only that, but for smaller, less brain-heavy tasks, you can multitask. If you need to carefully word an email, you can recite it to yourself while hanging the laundry for example. The neighbours won’t mind.
For your proper breaks though, it’s best to fully switch off from whatever you were doing before. Let your mind focus on different things, or just wander off entirely. Get fresh air and exercise if you can.
4. Eliminate Digital Distractions
The best thing you can do if you want to remain laser-focused? Turn off your phone, put it in a box, and then put the box far, far away. Even better, lock it away and give the key to somebody you live with.
In all seriousness, you probably don’t need to go to those lengths to avoid your phone, but it might help if you did. On average, smartphone users unlock their phone 150 times per day! The best prevention is to put it elsewhere.
You can also disable notifications or use certain wellness apps which prevent you from opening certain apps during work hours. However, these still require willpower to maintain and can easily be overridden if you feel rebellious. To eliminate digital distractions permanently, just put your phone in another room.
5. Set a Time for Checking Emails and Stick To It
If you’ve been wondering how to be productive working from home when you are constantly receiving emails, the answer is simple. Turn off notifications and set aside a time once per day to answer all emails. You’ll always respond within 24 hours, and you can actually be productive in the meantime.
6. Make a Daily To-Do List on Trello
You might already be familiar with Trello, a list-making application often used in the workplace. But did you know you can use it for your own personal goals too? Whether you want to use it to stay on top of chores around the house or to keep track of work deadlines, Trello makes a great ally when it comes to being productive working from home.
You can, of course, use other list-making apps like Asana if you prefer. Or you might just want to use a good old fashioned pen and paper. Whichever way you plan out your day, doing so ensures that you remain focused on your goals, enhancing productivity and reducing the possibility of getting sidetracked.
7. Prep Meals in Advance
There’s nothing worse than being at the height of focus, the pinnacle of productivity, when you’re struck with a sudden urge to eat. With your biological need for food pulling you slowly away from your work, your faced with an even bigger distraction: what should you have? You’ve got to cook – possibly for multiple people – how are you ever going to get back into the flow?
Easy. Make your meals in advance. Cook bigger batches and freeze some for leftovers. Simply reheat these during your workday and voila. You have home-cooked goodness in a matter of minutes.
8. Get Some Fresh Air
We touched upon this already with taking frequent breaks, but I think it should be restated and re-emphasized. Fresh air increases productivity. In fact, fresh air helps with tons of things, including feeling less stressed and more positive. This is particularly beneficial for those who are getting frustrated while cramped up at home.
Even more importantly, if you’re working from home, you aren’t commuting. You will likely be sleeping, eating, and working from the same place without any requirement to leave. Because of this, you should go out of your way to get some fresh air and vitamin D. You’ll feel reenergized after a change in your environment and, when you return, you’ll be more productive.
9. Video Call With Colleagues
If you’re wondering how to be more productive working from home without regularly seeing your work colleagues, it’s time to jump on a video chat with them. It might be difficult to find the same motivation that you do when you’re surrounded by like-minded individuals with the same goal. By jumping on a call, you can touch base with your workmates and leave with newfound motivation.
If for whatever reason you can’t make the allotted time for your video call, you can use tl;dv, a virtual meeting tool that allows you to record meetings, leave timestamps at the important parts, and catch up asynchronously. This is the perfect tool for remote teams in need of a productivity boost; you can be hard at work and not need to attend the meeting at all if you can catch up in minutes later.
View this post on Instagram
10. Use Productivity Apps
Play to your strengths and take advantage of modern technology with an app or five. Todoist is a good one for prioritizing your time and establishing your daily goals. Focus Booster is another interesting productivity app which allows you to break your work into 25 minute segments, followed by a 5 minute break. You can also use Evernote to improve workflow and create notes and bookmarks across multiple webpages.
11. Communicate Effectively
To cut down on stress and unnecessary talks, learn to communicate effectively using Slack and other work messengers. While the thought of using emojis, especially at work, may repulse you, they’re a quick way to portray meaning. Don’t have time to send a huge message that explains your emotions in a way that they should be interpreted, just leave a few emojis as a reaction to the previous message instead.
In addition to this, when you do need to write out a message, strike a balance between being direct and being respectful. While you might be tempted to just say what you want to say and move on, people have the horrifying tendency to over-analyze virtual messages. Because of this, try to emphasize your respect for your colleague before telling them to get their sh*t together.
It can be a pain to modify your voice with every message, which is why it’s ideal to set aside messages for specific times. Don’t let notifications interrupt your workflow. Set aside a time to reply to messages swiftly and coherently.
12. Stick to a Good Routine
Sticking to a healthy morning routine is one of the best productivity tips for working from home. It’s a simple way to mentally prepare yourself for work. What you put in your morning routine is completely up to you, though it’s often suggested that exercise, meditation and a healthy breakfast are all big contributors to a productive mindset.
The most important part about this, however, is that you stick to it. Find what works for you and make it into a habit by consistently building it out over several weeks. Once you’ve programmed yourself to have an amazing morning automatically, then your workday is sure to follow in the same vibe.
Be aware that not sticking to your morning routine can cause the opposite effect, making you moody and miserable, with a looming feeling that the day will be terrible because you didn’t do what you wanted in the morning. Try to see this feeling for what it is. Just a feeling. If you ever miss a day, remind yourself that it’s okay. It’s not a competition. You are just trying to have a productive day, and that can still happen!
13. Set Your Devices to “Do Not Disturb”
This one should be obvious, but I’ve added it as a reminder. Turn off all notifications, not just on your mobile, but on your laptop too. Set your Slack to “do not disturb”, as well as any other work app that isn’t essential. This will not only notify your team members that you are hard at work, but it will also prevent you from being distracted. It’s a win-win.
14. Set Aside Time for “Deep Work”
Somewhat linked with the previous productivity tips, work from home allows you to buckle down and get some serious graft done without anybody to distract you. By setting aside time for “deep work”, i.e work where you are 100% focused and power through without any distractions, you are able to get more done in less time.
This is perfect for async teams who don’t need to be in constant contact. In fact, this liberating work tactic is reinforced when you combine it with productivity apps like tl;dv. Have a Zoom meeting that will give you some advice? Use tl;dv to record on Zoom and then you can catch up later, skipping straight to the relevant part.
In fact, tl;dv is a life-saver when it comes to “deep work”. It keeps you productive while the unimportant bits are going on, then allows you to catch up at lightning speed in your own time. Did you know that tl;dv has your Zoom or Google Meet recording ready for you to watch in seconds? And it has a transcript to go with it, translatable into 20+ languages. Oh, did I forget to mention that it’s free too?
15. Get Some Background Noise
Don’t like the silence of home? Some people prefer it, but if it’s not your cup of tea, there’s plenty of things you can do about it. Firstly, ever heard of Rainymood.com? Well, rain makes everything better. Try playing it in the background as you type away and you might just find yourself drifting into hardcore focus mode.
Other workers swear by white noise, some prefer simple music without lyrics, while others like to hear the ambient sounds of a cafe. If you sound like the latter, try working with Coffitivity. Proven and peer-reviewed, Coffitivity is designed to help you be more productive and creative.
16. Get Lots of Natural Light
Make sure you open your curtains and let in all the sunlight you can. Obviously you don’t want a crazy glare across your screens, but you definitely do want natural light. Working inside with artificial light every day will strain the eyes. Natural light may be much more accessible at home than in your regular office – now is the time to utilize it.
If your work-from-home spot lacks a flow of natural light, just try to let in as much as you can. Perhaps you can work from outside if the climate and internet allow. Natural light doesn’t just reduce eye strain, it’s scientifically proven to boost productivity and help you hone in on your work with more of a razor-sharp focus.
17. Google Calendar is Your Friend
If you still haven’t mastered how to be productive working from home, then Google Calendar should be your new best friend. This app can store all your day’s events on there, from meetings (even when they’re rescheduled) to tasks. If it’s not on your Google Calendar, do you even need to do it at all?
One of the most well-known but least utilized productivity tips for working from home comes in the form of the calendar app that you all know and love. It’s as simple as this: when you have something to do, add it to your Calendar. When you complete it, tick it off your calendar. This way, you keep a professional to-do list that’s updated in real time.
Make sure you manually add anything that isn’t automatically linked to your Google account. You can set yourself reminders too. By setting reminders, you free up mental space that would have otherwise been trying to remember something simple. This can be for taking breaks or getting some fresh air as we discussed earlier. You can even set a reminder to bake a big batch of Mac n Cheese for the following day’s lunch! There are no excuses with Google Calendar.
18. Use a Timer App Like Tomato Timer
Tomato Timer is a great way to give yourself uninterrupted time to complete a task. You can start and stop the 25 minute timer, allowing you to keep track of how long a certain task has taken you to do. You can also give yourself a break using the timer to ensure you don’t get distracted and overindulge in free time.
19. Check Out Productivity Platforms Like ClickUp
Aiming to be the future of remote work, ClickUp is an all-in-one workplace app that includes tasks, goals, docs, chat and more. You can import your work from another platform so that it’s all under one roof. If you want to be totally organized and on top of everything, ClickUp, or a similar productivity app, will probably sound like music to your ears.
20. Keep Your Passwords Organized With 1Password
Dubbed the world’s most loved password manager, 1Password stores your passwords in a password vault and makes it easy to log into absolutely any account. If you’re wasting a lot of time moving from one app to the other, signing in and out of different accounts all day long, and trying half-heartedly to remember a password you set seven years ago, then 1Password will save you time, energy, and a whole lot of stress.
21. Give Yourself Rewards
Rewarding yourself for your accomplishments is a proven way of motivating yourself to succeed. It might appear at first glance that if you have some cookies, you can just take them whenever you feel like it. But withholding the cookies from yourself until you’ve achieved something noteworthy (and pre-determined) actually encourages you to be more driven.
This also works with non-edible rewards. Try it out for yourself and see if you feel more productive if you give yourself a reward for completing a task. Just don’t set unrealistically high goals or you will find yourself demotivated.