Work from home
What’s that one thing you always expected from work but never got? Working from Home and living the laptop lifestyle. Imagine yourself working in Pajamas and counting the dollars. Sounds a dream. Isn’t it? No prying eyes or a boss scolding you for breaks. The idea of working from home attracts millions, but working from home is easier said than done. To stay productive when working from home is a challenge that only the doer experiences.
Now that you have the opportunity to work from home, you can’t lose the chance to create a life you always wanted. You have to stay productive when working from home and conquer the inner demons of laziness and procrastination. To help you do that, Great Life Ahead presents you with a no Nonsense Guide to stay productive when working from home. Read On!
18 Tips to Stay Productive When Working from Home
1. Think Beyond the “Perfect Starting Time”
The clock is our best friend as it helps us to measure productivity. We often wait for the right time to start something. The best time to exercise, study, sleep and work. If you see the clock before starting work, you may be committing this rookie mistake for years. The clock can kill productivity, all at once. Here’s proof:
Do you start something at 10.00? Why not 10.17 or 10.18 for that matter? We are obsessed about starting work at two sweet spots-.00 or.30. It’s similar to resolutions starting on the first day of the month. Suppose you decide to start work at 9 am and somehow the clock says, 9.10. What happens next?
You may think about starting at 9.30. You lose 20 minutes of productive time, and this happens, all day long. The only way to beat this is to hit the work desk at a fixed time every morning. Wake up early and allow your body to develop a routine. A long-term habit really pays off later! Remember that you can be 15 minutes early, but not late. Hope this helps!
2. Ditch the Bedroom
Working in bed can make you lethargic and sleepy, something that is contrary to productivity. Even if you are working in your bedroom, your mind keeps on bombarding thoughts of sleep and relaxation. Your spine must stay straight to be free from problems, which doesn’t happen while working in bed. You can’t realize when your laptop comes to your chest, and you start doing double damage to your eyes and posture. Once you wake up in the morning, don’t hit the bed until it’s sleeping time at night.
3. Find Your Ideal Work Space
Before starting to work from home, it’s essential to find a space that allows you to focus. Selecting a work space is like trying a new wardrobe. Either you fit in, or you don’t. If you fit in, you continue, or else you look for the next option! You can be able to focus with the first work space or may also have to try multiple options. The process takes time and therefore, you must act right now. Watch your thoughts while working and ask yourself these questions,
“Am I able to focus here?”
“Can I work here every day?”
Two positives and you are good to go.
4. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique can help you do high-quality work with extreme focus. Given by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the technique involves dividing your work into smaller chunks. Then, you need to work on each subtask for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break. A stretch of 25 minutes= 1 Pomodoro. For each successful Pomodoro, Mark an X.
After 4 Pomodoros or 100 minutes, you can take a 20-minute break. Sounds simple?
The technique may take time to master, however, can prove beneficial for your productivity. Just make sure there is no distraction around. Try it and share the results in the comments section.
5. Get a Sit-Stand Desk
“Sitting is the new smoking.” A Harvard Medical School Research reveals that more than half of an average person’s hours are spent sitting. Whether it’s about cubicle time in office, watching television or simply talking to a loved one- We are sitting. Sitting for more than 8 hours a day takes a toll on our physical health, leaving us vulnerable to heart disease, diabetes, neck and back problems and premature death in worst cases.
Now that you are working from home, correct the mistake that millions are making. Get a sit-stand desk or height adjustable desk for your work space to sit or stand while you work. You can use a timer to assess your sitting and standing time and switch the positions accordingly. When you achieve a razor sharp focus and don’t feel like spoiling it, simply stand while working.
Start standing for a few minutes initially without stressing too much and gradually increase the time. Try this technique, and you will improve your circulation and productivity.
6. Design Your Work Space
External factors are instrumental in achieving focus for work. When you start working from home, you are most likely to feel stressed or demotivated in the initial days. Tricking your mind to believe that you are still doing “meaningful” work can help you get out of the slump, whenever you get into one. Customize your workspace as you would do otherwise. Paint the wall with your favorite color, place a plant for positive energy and/or:
- A Calendar
- A Small Clock
- Motivational Posters (My Favorite)
You can also keep a shelf for your important stationery and to organize your files. Do pretty much everything that can help you enforce the workplace discipline.
7. Be (Un)Available
As they say, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Many people love the idea of working from home and plan multiple things, only to see them vanishing later. What once felt a passion filled calling, turns up into an immediate slump. But, here’s is the catch! The more you are available for people, greater are the chances to lose the motivation. Your family, relatives and social circle can perceive you to be “free”, as working from home is not something that’s readily embraced.
You will get offers to go out for shopping, movies, fun and much more. In such conditions, you have to make your loved ones understand that you are doing serious work and therefore, can’t afford to lose focus. Though you should be available for the people you need, but not on the cost of compromising your work. Tell people gently that you are busy and can’t be available all the time unless something inevitable happens! Do this little favor to yourself and watch your productivity skyrocket.
8. Pay Attention to Grooming
Most people think work from home as working in pajamas, sitting on that beanbag and doing what they love. You know the usual, caveman life. The reality, however, is a complete contrast. Though you can work in pajamas as long as discipline is intact, paying attention to grooming is essential. Make some non-negotiables about personal hygiene and religiously follow them.
Do a few things that you would usually do, if you are part of an organization. Take a shower, care for your skin, eat healthy meals and sleep on time. Doing such little things will keep you on track and is also helpful in improving your overall well-being.
9. Work in Natural Light
We spend most of the time under artificial lights which limit our exposure to natural daylight. Natural sunlight helps reset our circadian rhythms, thereby improving our body clocks. On top of that, working in natural light can also boost mental alertness and wake up early; which is pivotal to work success and productivity. Try to set up your work desk at a place that receives natural daylight. After sunset, you can work with artificial lights on. Not only you can save electricity with this little step, but can also notice a considerable improvement in your productivity levels.
10. Stay Hydrated
One of the primary reasons for energy drainage is dehydration. All too often, we forget to drink water when a deadline is close or in the middle of something urgent. If you desire productivity when working from home, start drinking more water.
Apart from catering to crucial body functions, water helps in improving blood circulation. As your blood circulation improves, you feel more energized to take on any task at hand. That said, always keep a pint of water before starting a work session. You can also download an app to regulate your water intake. Try Water Drink Reminder. You must also eat water-rich fruits such as watermelon and cucumber. Just avoid:
- Carbonated, fizzy beverages
- Canned drinks
Such sugary drinks add up unhealthy calories that may take more than a few hours of exercise to exhaust.
11. Maintain Your Energy
Energy levels are high in the morning, however, dip as the day progresses. Eat lunch, and all you can ask for is then, a comfy bed and a pillow. What can you do to prevent this energy drain? It’s a long process, but it works. I have quit taking naps in the afternoon, except on weekends. I work from home for about 8 to 10 hours a day with consistent energy levels. Simply follow this plan:
- Increase your intake of Herbal teas (Start with Green Tea)
- Improve Your Sleep Quality
- Cut down sugar and fried foods
- Increase fiber and protein rich foods in your diet
- Eat plenty of sprouts, fruits, and veggies throughout the day
12. Do Background Research a Day Before
To get productive, you must know the answers to these questions:
Your job is to find clear answers to these questions, and once you do that, you are on top of the game. The first question is the most essential and needs prior planning. You must not kill an hour or a half figuring out what you need to do. Simply decide what needs to be done and then, invest all your energy in doing the rest. Leo Babauta, one of the productivity masters in the World suggests deciding on 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) for the day. You must set them either in the morning or the night before. Keep the list realistic to achieve, and you can also add a few buffer items.
13. Maintain a Minimalist Work Space
Clutter distracts your mind and prevents you from achieving focus. Practice a “clear desk policy” and limit the items to a minimum. Your work desk must be clear of things that you don’t require. Your t-shirt, for instance, should be inside rather than lying on your work desk. Create more blank space on your work desk and eliminate as many things as possible. My workplace has:
- A laptop
- A Water Bottle
- A Pen
- A Notepad
- A box of fruits and Sprouts
That’s that. What’s on yours?
14. Experiment With Listening Music
Many people enjoy a playlist while working. That’s completely subjective! Daniel Levitin, a cognitive neuroscientist and the author of the bestseller “This is Your Brain On Music” advises listening to music 10-15 minutes before you start working to boost productivity. Another research also suggests that music is soothing to the mind, however, unsuitable for cognitively demanding tasks as attention gets divided. That said, I won’t suggest you to listen or not listen to music when working from home or otherwise. There are people doing mathematical calculations while listening music, therefore, try it and see whether it helps your focus or not.
15. Maintain a Break Journal
It’s OK to take breaks, however, you must track them to optimize productivity. Breaks are important to refresh your mind and promote body movement; you shouldn’t overdo it as you lose focus. Rather than talking a long 2-hour break, go for 15 minutes or 30 minutes at the maximum.
I have maintained a break journal that exactly tells about activities performed in breaks. Maintaining a break journal can ensure that you are focusing your energy on the right areas and not wasting them. Simply prepare a spreadsheet quoting the actual time of break, time of return, break duration and activities performed during the period.
When you do a quick round up during the day to identify productivity loopholes, take a look at the activities. Ask yourself,
You can try plenty of things in your break such as:
- A short walk
- Light Exercise and Stretching
You can analyze multiple time wasters with this technique and eliminate them to prevent impacting your productivity.
16. Track Your Progress and Improve
Good and bad days at work are part and parcel of life. There will be times when you nail each item on your to-do list, however, missing out is also common. Not achieving the planned can cause stress and demotivation, hampering your next day. To prevent such an instance, it’s essential to track your progress and come up with an action plan to improve. Missed a deadline? Identify the cause. What could be done in future?
“A mistake is the best chance to get better as you know something is lacking.”
17. Get a Life Outside Work
Being a workaholic isn’t bad, however, only being that is. You should be productive, however, it should not strain your personal relationships. Your personal and professional life must complement each other. For that to happen, simply relax and rejuvenate. Take a day off from work and spend time with your spouse or family. Go shopping, movies or indulge in intimate conversations. It’s your choice. Recreation is also important as a human, else the distinction between a man and robot would vanish. Isn’t it?
18. Be Grateful for Your Work from Home
Millions only dream about working from home, however, only a few people realize the dream. Say to your inner self that, “I am lucky to be able to work from home.” There are people out there, working like a robot in factories and manufacturing assemblies. Moreover, there are people working in cubicles to make a living who are expected to come early and leave late, thereby sacrificing their personal life for the professional commitments.
Most of them can’t even eat on time for the pressure of deadlines and targets, forget about working in Pajamas and designing the life they want. You have the privilege to work from home and an opportunity to develop a lifestyle that you want. Be grateful for this privilege and this motivation alone would take you places.
Staying productive when working from home is tough, but achievable. There will be intermittent dips in motivation, but you shouldn’t stop. If one task seems boring, switch to the next. Always remember that “Work is Work.” When something needs to be done, the idea of a good or bad mood doesn’t stand a chance. Keep working and staying productive when working from home will get simpler, every day.
Your Turn Now,
What productivity challenges you face when working from home?
Have any tips not mentioned in the blog post?
Have a success story to share?
We would love to hear from you. Kindly provide your valuable feedback in the comments box.