Are you procrastinating on working on your project right now?
- dust on your shelves,
- sink full of dishes,
- list of phone calls you wanted to make,
- new episode of Madam Secretary,
- Netflix in general,
- Facebook and Instagram feeds,
- or anything else that you usually use to procrastinate,
…preventing you from doing work when you’re working from home?
Do you know you need to finally change something…?
Here are 7 tips proven to work magic for your productivity and happiness when working from home:
1. Create a regular schedule
The flexible working hours can be nice, but we need downtime, and if flexibility causes our work to stretch across a whole day, over longer period of time this leads to burnout, exhaustion, lack of motivation and decrease in productivity. This is why clearly separating work time from free time is very important. Make sure you set a regular schedule for yourself and stick to it as much as possible.
2. Get dressed in the morning
Getting out of your PJs sets the tone for the day and makes it clear that it’s the working part of the day (which will help you stick to your schedule). Leave your nightwear behind and slip into your work clothes every morning (even if your work clothes are super comfy too ;) ).
3. Have your dedicated work space
The same way that if you were working in an office, when leaving that office you’d leave your work behind, the same way when working from home you need a dedicated work space, so that at some point in the day you can close shop and leave your “office”. It can be a dedicated room, but it can also be an office space – hide-away desks can help with that. (I wrote a whole article on how to decorate a home office here.) Clear your desk completely at the end of each day to create that feeling that work is done and now it’s your white-space/relaxing time (so needed for a happy and productive work time the following day).
4. Hydrate and take lunch breaks
With no coworkers around, there’s noone coming to your desk to ask if you want to go for lunch together, so make sure you have a time set aside for lunch breaks – and don’t put yourself in a situation where you forgot to eat for hours because you were so busy working. Preparing your meals in advance also helps. Make time for your basic needs – drink lots of water and eat a healthy lunch.
5. No errands during work-time
Running errands can be a huge distraction. And while a check-up appointment in the middle of the day can be cool if that was the only time doctor office could offer you (that is the perk of working from home and flexible hours after all), doing laundry or dishes during work hours is distracting and makes your working time span across more hours in the day. Finish all your work first and THEN do the house chores.
6. Learn to say NO to people around you
Don’t expect your friends or family members who don’t work from home to understand straight away what it is you’re doing. Which is: WORKING.
For people who’ve never done this it might seem like you’re available all day: to call or drop by. Set your boundaries and be very clear. Be patient and educate your loved ones about your working hours and that the same rules apply as if you were in an out-of-home office – only real emergencies can make you stop your day and rearrange your schedule. Everything else needs to wait till after work. Say NO to things that will distract you within your working hours.
7. Plan your day the night before
At the end of your working day, plan your upcoming day, so that when you wake up the next morning you know exactly what you need to do and when you need to start in order to get everything done (which will make it much easier to get out of PJs, stick to your schedule and start the day promptly). It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a paper calendar, or a digital app (personally, I use Flocus), decide on your next priorities and tasks at the end of each work day.
How to best introduce those working from home tips (aka how I got here and you can too)
It’s been five years now since I started working from home and I live by those points as much as possible, every day. Sticking to those rules about having a schedule and a strict division between work time and home time (even though both of those happen at home) have changed the way I work, allowed me to be much more productive, and (lately) to create more downtime – which for me as a recovering workaholic is a true achievement.
There is still a lot of room for growth and I don’t pretend I have all the answers. While some of those rules can come naturally to you, others can be somewhat of a struggle at times. It’s all ok, it’s all a process. The important part is that you’re interested in improving your habits when working from home.
Like any new habit, I would advise to start from introducing any changes one at a time (I did a video on how to introduce new habits successfully here if you haven’t seen it).
And remember: if you’ve created a life where you can work from home, you’ve already done so much of the work! Now just don’t give up and carry on – and learn on other people’s experiences. These tips really do work. Give them a try and tell me what you think. Leave a comment below and let me know: which tip do you think you should focus on first?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Have a happy and productive week,