Since there’s a lot going on in the world right now, most of us are working from home and laying low in an effort to practice social distancing. When I decided to quit my corporate job, I thought that I would have absolutely no problem staying motivated, focused and productive at home…but boy was I wrong! It was a much bigger challenge than I realized.
But now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve learned a thing or two and wanted to share my advice on how to be productive while working from home. I’m by no means an expert and still struggle with this sometimes, but the things I have learned have been extremely helpful for me personally.
But before I go into my productivity tips, I want to mention that it’s OKAY to take this slow, inward period of time for rest, self-care and just doing nothing. We don’t always need to be productive. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back, give your body and mind some time to just be, and not focus on checking off your mile-long to-do list. If you’re focusing on resting and taking some time to yourself right now, then enjoy and relax into that moment.
If you are choosing to (or have to) stay productive during this time, here’s my top 5 ways to stay productive while working from home.
1. Make time to freshen up in the morning and “get dressed.”
I know this ruins the whole allure of working in bed in your PJs, but this tip is honestly the most important. Here’s what you need to do…
After getting up in the morning, be sure to STILL MAINTAIN PROPER HYGIENE! I know this sounds funny and obvious, but sometimes when you work from home you get distracted or just forget to take a shower, wash your face in the morning, brush your teeth, etc. Don’t forget these things. They wake you up and transition you out of sleep + chill mode to HELLO WORLD I’M READY FOR YOU mode.
Now in regards to getting dressed, you don’t need to get all fancy but you do need to change out of your PJs and put on something that makes you feel good and put together. For me, this is usually jeans and a cute (but comfy) top, but even just putting on a coordinated athleisure or loungewear set makes a world of a difference. This gets your mind into a different mode and is SO CRUCIAL.
2. Figure out the home-related tasks that disrupt you the most. Then prioritize them around your work schedule.
That sounds confusing, but here’s what I’m trying to get at. We all have things at home that need to get done, but there are certain things that are more disruptive than others.
I think this is best understood through my own examples…
My dogs have a lot of energy and need a daily, long walk for them to be relaxed and not constantly bugging me for attention. Therefore, I prioritize taking them for their walk every morning before I start my “work day” so that they are calm and I can focus on my own stuff instead of them.
I also get really distracted and anxious when things are messy and disorganized. That’s why I try to clean up around the house a little bit before I start working since it helps me feel more content, clear and focused.
These two things are really important to me. If the dogs aren’t walked and the house is a disaster, you can pretty much guarantee my day won’t be that great.
So find what those things are for you. Maybe you need to meal prep so you fully relax during your lunch break, maybe you need a clean place like me, maybe having to take multiple work breaks to switch the laundry really disrupts your creative flow. Whatever it is, prioritize accomplishing these things in the early morning or on the weekend (if you can), so that there are less distractions during your work hours.
3. Get fresh air.
Nothing is more rejuvenating then fresh air and a little bit of sunshine. Taking breaks by getting outside is such an amazing way to decompress so that you go back to work feeling a little more restored.
My tip: usually most people (including myself) feel the most tired in the afternoon around 3 PM or so. This is the perfect time to take a 10-15 minute walk outside. It’ll wake you up! Bonus points: Take a water bottle with you on your walk and drink as much as possible! You’ll feel even more energized.
4. Create a designated workspace.
If you have an extra room, be sure to utilize this and create a little office for yourself. And if you don’t, find somewhere in your home where you can put a desk and all of your work-related items. Sitting down at that desk helps your mind to realize you’re entering work-mode. It also helps your mind realize when you get up and leave that work-mode is over and it’s time to relax.
5. Make a to-do list the night before.
In my opinion, the hardest part of working from home is sitting down and just getting started. When you’re in an office, once you get to work…you just start working!
But it makes it even harder to have the motivation to start working when you aren’t totally sure of what you need to accomplish that day. This is where a trusty to-do list comes into play!
I highly recommend writing a to-do list for the next day every evening before you stop working. At this point, you’re already on a roll and should know exactly what steps you’ll need to take tomorrow. That way, when tomorrow comes around, there’ll be no questions as to what you need to focus on and prioritize. This will make it way easier to just get started.
Another thing I want to point out is that working from home can be really isolating sometimes. It’s SO CRUCIAL to make it a priority to get OUT OF THE HOUSE and connect with people in real life. I can tell you that if I make time to get lunch/dinner with a friend, catch an evening group workout class, or go work out of a coffee shop sometimes, I’m a much happier person. And that happiness makes me more productive and more excited about my work. Don’t forget you’re a human who needs community.
However, with what’s going on right now, I realize this may not be an option. But even a phone call with a friend makes a world of difference!
Like I mentioned, I’m still learning as I go so I’m always trying to find new ways to make working from home easier and more enjoyable. If you work from home, I’d love to hear your thoughts and any tips you have!