Increasing Productivity at Home

Has working from home become your “new normal”? With a lot of Americans now being asked to work remotely, finding new ways to be productive from home can prove to be a difficult task, especially if you have children.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 29% of jobs can effectively be performed from home, which is causing people to become very creative in solving work-based needs from their home office (or kitchen table).

While creativity is on the rise, unfortunately so is stress and anxiety. Some people are finding it difficult to stay focused amidst uncertainty, not to mention other distractions. But don’t despair! A 2019 study showed that working from home can actually help you be more productive.

Here are some simple tips to help you stay focused, increase productivity, and keep your cool while working from home.

  1. Wake up at your normal time.

Healthy sleep habits can help to kick-start a daily routine that can benefit your overall well-being and productivity. Our bodies have biological clocks and disrupting your sleep patterns can actually make you more tired. Keeping it “business as usual” helps to maintain that sense of routine.

  2. Get out of your PJs.

As tempting as it may be to stay in your pajamas all day, getting up, taking a shower, and getting dressed can supercharge your morning. If you’re dressed for bed, your mind will think it’s bedtime and trick you into feeling lethargic. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort, but go through your morning routine just as you would if you were working at an office.

  3. Stick to a schedule.

A lack of structure can cause you to become easily distracted by things that wouldn’t normally be a part of your work day. That sink full of dishes or those loads of undone laundry can be a tempting diversion from the tasks at hand. Set regular business hours that you plan to focus on nothing but work and stick to them.

  4. Make a dedicated workspace.

Whether it’s a spot at the kitchen table, a small portable table, or a quiet corner in a back bedroom, having a space just for you to work is an important part of staying focused. If you have other people in your house, then find a space where you can close a door. And stay away from places where there might be a temptation to turn on, or tune in to, a TV. Keep all your work tools in that one place, so that once you sit down for the day, you don’t have to leave over and over to find important items.

  5. Update your To-Do list daily.

Oftentimes, people who are used to working with a boss or closely with a team have trouble managing their tasks. Get used to categorizing tasks into large and small tasks, and get clear each day which ones are the priorities. Start each day by reviewing your list and start on the things that absolutely must be done first. Add in a few easy tasks, and check them off when they’re complete. Use an app or planner to keep you on target. Reward yourself when you accomplish each task.

  6. Set ground rules with people in your space.

If you have children or other people in your home, make sure that they understand and respect your space and “business hours”. Setting scheduled breaks during the day to connect with people outside of work, or handle important tasks is a great way to minimize interruptions.

  7. Schedule breaks.

Allow yourself needed time to stand up, stretch, check your social media, eat lunch, or go outside. According to the American Society of Employees, workers need a 15-minute break for every one hour of work. You’ll be more productive if you allow your brain to reset several times throughout the day. Set a timer on your phone to remind you to take your breaks, and don’t skip them.

  8. Discover your high productivity periods.

Most people have certain times of day that they are most productive. Some people are morning people, and others thrive during the early afternoon. Be sure to schedule your heaviest workflow during these times.

  9. Communicate with colleagues.

Loneliness, disconnection, and isolation can be common problems among remote workers. Touch base with your coworkers, or other people who are in your industry. Connect face-to-face for meetings whenever possible. Check in with people you know are also working from home and share tips on how you’re staying in the zone.

  10. Move your body.

Using one of your 15-minute breaks to take a walk, do some simple stretching, or do some simple exercises like jumping jacks will keep your blood flowing and help keep your body from feeling stiff at the end of the day. It also helps with that post-lunch brain fog that creeps in making you want to sleep on your keyboard.

  11. Resist the temptation to snack.

If you’re like most Americans, you likely have a cabinet full of snacks. If you’re tempted to snack throughout the day, try to choose healthier snacks like fruits, vegetables, and non-processed foods. Eating things like nuts and other healthy fats can give you a boost of energy without the sugar crash. This will also help prevent adding excess unwanted weight.

  12. Keep your brain sharp.

Being in front of your computer screen has its benefits. Being able to tune into a TED talk or a business-related video can help make you a better employee. Always be on the lookout for ways to learn about a new skillset or a way to be a more effective communicator.

  13. Meditate.

Studies show that even 5 minutes of daily meditation can give you a sense of balance and calm, which can help to improve overall well-being, as well as productivity. If the stress of work, or home surroundings gets to be too much, listen to a short, guided meditation to get you back on track. If you don’t feel like meditation is an option, then pause and take three deep breaths.

  14. Avoid “work creep”.

Working from home can sometime affect your personal life. Do you best to keep your work separate from home. Keep to your set work hours, and when you’re done for the day, leave it all in your workspace. Try not to let your work creep into your personal life. Shut your laptop, shut the door, and focus on you and your family.

  15. Stay positive.

Whether working from home is a choice or a necessity, choose to look at the bright side. Take time daily to notice three things you’re grateful for. You can even start a gratitude journal. Listen to uplifting music while getting ready in the morning or during breaks. Tune in to the positive things around you. You might just surprise yourself by getting more done, having more time for yourself and your family, and creating the balance you desire.