Tips for Staying Productive While Working from Home
Working from home can be wonderful – there’s no long commute to and from work each day, no colleagues to distract you with personal dramas, and time saved by not sitting in boardrooms through long meetings. But, work from home productivity can be hit-or-miss.
A lot of research has been done into the working-from-home trend and productivity, with the results suggesting that 86% of employees enjoy working alone when they need to focus on work and 77% saying they are more productive working from a home office than a traditional office.
If you’ve tried it, you have a good idea of the pros and cons of working from home. But over time you will probably find that your enthusiasm to work hard and stay focused starts wearing a little thin.
So, how do others stay productive when working at home?
In this article, we’ll share our top tips for staying motivated and productive in your home office, along with the tools that will help you do this.
Why Do You Need Productivity Tips for Working from Home?
Being productive means that you are getting the most out of what you put in. Productivity does not mean spending more hours behind your home office desk – in fact, it means the opposite.
If you’re truly productive, you can get more done in less time, which gives you more free time to do other things.
Knowing how to be more productive can give you:
More free time
Less stress and worry that you can’t keep up with your workload
A higher income as you are able to take on more work or clients
Focus on Deep Work
In order to be truly productive, you need to focus on what author Cal Newport calls “Deep Work” in his groundbreaking book about Rules for Focus Success in a Distracted World.
This involves cutting out all distractions and becoming completely involved in the work at hand. If you do this, you will get better results in less time than if you are answering emails and phone calls while trying to do the work.
Once the deep work is done, it’s time to reset and recharge with something that’s good for you, like a walk outside where there’s fresh air.
Create a Space Dedicated to Working
If you’re going to work from home, it’s important to be comfortable and happy in your workspace. The best tip for this is to think about what you like in your office or in other offices you’ve worked in and what makes you feel energized and ready to get things done.
Choose an area or a room at home with enough space for a desk and a comfortable office chair. Check that the lighting is right, there are no major distractions, the room temperature is good or can be controlled, and that you can keep any other items you might need nearby, such as a phone charger.
Set up your office space in a way that suits your working style, so you can be productive and avoid interruptions.
Schedule Dedicated Social Time with Co-Workers
Just because you don’t have to listen to office gossip at the water cooler doesn’t mean you won’t miss the social aspect of working in an office.
In fact, interacting with others at work can greatly enhance productivity, collaboration, and knowledge. But when you work from home you don’t have this advantage.
Well, there’s now something called “virtual co-working” that’s becoming more and more popular, where employees work from home but interact with each other many times a day on Zoom or Teams.
If you find you need social interaction to stay productive, get a colleague or the team onboard with this concept. You can use co-working to chat to a colleague every hour or so and set productivity targets for the upcoming session, or you can take short breaks during the day to call someone from the office and discuss the project you’re working and ask questions.
If you want something a little more fun, arrange virtual coffee dates or lunches with your colleagues and meet them on Zoom.
What Are the Best Work from Home Productivity Tools?
With so many people working from home, there’s been an increase in the technology and tools available that make home office and work from home productivity a lot easier.
Here are the top tools for home productivity:
Control the Sound in Your Home Office
If you like something playing in the background while you work, listen to music or a podcast in your home office. You can play these on headphones or a small speaker plugged into your worktop. There are many soundtracks on YouTube made for productivity and concentration. For a deeper dive on this topic, check out our post on listening to music while working from home.
Many people find that they can concentrate well simply by playing coffee shop ambient noise, which makes them think they’re in a coffee shop with other people, without anything too loud or distracting.
If you don’t like to hear anything, and you want total peace and quiet for deep work, choose an app that plays white noise or get a white noise machine for your home office.
If those aren’t for you, consider getting noise-cancelling headphones to block out as much outside sound as possible.
Plan Using Google Calendar
If you’re working from home, you’ll need to keep track of everything that must be done each day and when you have virtual co-working sessions, webinars, deadlines, and all the other fun stuff that comes with the job.
Google Calendar is a free tool where you can track all of this and more online.
Use your Google Calendar to schedule work events but also to block off productive time, when you know you need to get something done and you don’t want to be interrupted.
You can log into your Calendar from anywhere to see what’s coming up, as long as you have an internet connection and your password.
Which leads us to…
Keep Your Passwords in One Secure Place
You don’t want to waste time trying to log into things when you should be working, so a password app like 1Password is a great productivity tool.
Just sign up for an account, create a master password you’ll remember, and add the rest of your passwords to the app. Whenever you try to log into a website or form after that, the app should fill in your login details and sign you in without any trouble.
Use a Cloud-Based Project Management Tool
If you’re working from home, you probably have colleagues working on projects with you. But they aren’t sitting next to you in your home office, are they?
To keep assignments on track, you’ll need a project management tool like ClickUp.
ClickUp lets you add projects, collaborate with team members, assign tasks to different team members, set alerts and check the status of tasks. It’s a central platform that each team member can sign into and quickly see what’s going on and what needs to get done.
Setting a goal and then switching on a timer can be a great motivator for productivity. You know that the clock is ticking, and you know you need to be finished by the time the buzzer goes off.
One of the most popular productivity techniques is called the Pomodoro method, which is simple but can be very effective when you follow these steps:
1. Click the START button on this free online timer, which will start the timer to count down 25 minutes
2. Work on one task until the buzzer rings
3. Take a break for five minutes
4. Start your next 25-minute Pomodoro session
Every time you finish your fourth Pomodoro session, take a longer break for about 30 minutes to refresh before starting a new round.
Block Out Online Distractions
If you start off with good intentions but soon find yourself on social media or checking emails, try Freedom.
This app can be installed on pretty much any device, and it has helped over 1 million people to become more productive by blocking their social media, online shopping and games when they know they should be working.
If you install the app, you can block whatever you want whenever you want, so this is a good tool to set with your Pomodoro timer, to block off distractions while you do your 25-minute work sessions.
Once you’re done with the workday sit back, go online, and enjoy some guilt-free time doing what you enjoy most.
It’s easy to stay productive while working from home if you cut out all distractions and work with your productivity style, rather than against it.
Set up your home office so that you are comfortable, have everything you need nearby, and won’t be interrupted. Then use online tools to plan your day, access what you need to do the work, and get the work done in the shortest amount of time.
Once you’re done with a focus session, take a break and get out of the office or give your colleagues a call to recharge and prepare for the next round.
The more you put these tips and tools into practice, the easier it will become to stay focused and get much more done in less time.