Chances are high that as you read this you are working exclusively from home. I know that adjustment can feel strange, which is why in this post I will share specific tips on how to be productive working from home.
Because in a normal world, working from home is an adjustment. But it’s even more strange in these COVID-19 filled times.
Suddenly you go from being surrounded by people all day, to being by yourself (or at the least, next to a lot fewer people). You go from having a pantry of snacks to choose from, to having whatever you were able to fight for at the grocery store. You go from a structured routine, to the freedom of deciding when, where, and how you work.
There’s a lot to sort out and it can be overwhelming.
But with all that uncertainty, there’s one thing that I can assure you – you have been given an opportunity to be the most productive you may ever be.
When I started
I’ve worked in a lot of roles and in a lot of different capacities. I’ve worked physically demanding jobs where I was on my feet all day, and I’ve equally worked desk jobs where I sat in front of a computer for nine hours.
Want to know when I got the most done?
When I started working from home.
Some three and a half years ago, I started a new job that granted me the ability to work from home. At first, I was skeptical. I thought I’d feel lonely (which I did), I thought I’d get bored (which I did), but I was open to the idea of working from home and wanted to try it out.
So I slowly started working remote. At first, I’d work from home one day a week. Then two. Then three and four. Eventually, I was working from home full-time.
That was over three years ago and if I have my way, I’ll never go back to an office.
How awesome it is
Now, I know you don’t have the luxury of testing a new work-from-home-lifestyle over a period of months like I did. You were likely in an office one day and homebound indefinitely the next.
And that can feel scary.
It’s a big change.
But let me offer you some reassurance. Want to know why I started working from home more and more despite the feelings of loneliness, boredom, and other related cons?
Because, frankly, once I got used to it, I realized how awesome it is.
By working from home, I:
- No longer had to commute
- Saved money by driving significantly less
- Saved money by eating the food I had at home instead of going out
- Didn’t have coworkers to distract me so I could fully focus on what I needed to do
- Wasn’t in the direct eye line of my employer so I didn’t have to pretend to look busy when I wasn’t
- Was able to fill my downtime with projects like QuickBooost (what you’re reading right now) – which started as a side project but I now run full-time through what I was able to accomplish during my time working from home
There are more benefits, but that’s just a brief list.
So much better
Working from home is different than working in an office. But, in my opinion it is so much better.
Yes, adjusting to working from home takes time, but in it lies a tremendous opportunity. It’s not one you were probably planning for, but it’s an opportunity nonetheless. An opportunity to get more done and be more productive than any other period of your life.
That said, I want to help you make your work transition as smooth as possible. Here are several tips for working from home effectively that you can use to make this period of your life as advantageous as possible.
How to be productive working from home: Get dressed
When you first start working from home, you will likely feel zero urge to get dressed. You’ll find yourself brushing your teeth for the first time that day in the late afternoon and lounging in pj’s from dawn till dusk.
I highly recommend not doing this.
Because how you dress is how you will feel.
If you try working in a robe, hair askew, clothes from the night before, that’s exactly how you’ll feel throughout the day – sloppy. On the other hand, if you wake up, get out of bed, wash your face, brush your teeth, and get dressed, you will feel ready to take on the day.
You don’t need to throw on a full suit, you just need to get dressed.
For me, my at-home work attire normally consists of work out clothes. It’s comfortable, it looks nice, and it makes me feel like I am ready to start my day.
How to be productive working from home: Create a morning routine
Something else you may likely experience is “bed work”. Instead of getting out of bed and getting dressed for the day, you may find yourself reaching for your laptop so that you can work from the comfort of your sheets.
Ya, too cozy.
Just like if you were to lounge around in pj’s all day, if you work from bed, you will feel like you do when you’re in sleep mode – tired and lazy.
Instead of pulling your laptop into bed with you, create a morning routine that suits your new lifestyle. For me, that involves waking up, getting fully dressed, and going downstairs where I start working on QuickBooost for the morning.
How to be productive working from home: Work when you work
Look, a lot of this is common sense. But for some reason, when you start working from home, you get into this mindset of it being like a summer vacation. It’s like you’re a kid again. You’re home on break and sure, your Mom is requiring you to read a couple books by end of summer, but you have plenty of time and know that she probably won’t end up enforcing it anyways. So just relax and enjoy the vacay, right?
If you have that mindset, you won’t get anything done.
Instead, work when you would normally work. Your mind and body have a routine that you’ve been following for who knows how long. Stick to that routine when you’re working from home.
It doesn’t have to be the exact same routine, but if you work from nine to noon and then have lunch, do that same thing while at home. You may find that you don’t need to be that rigid in the future, but to start, stick to your regular workday routine until you feel comfortable adjusting things.
How to be productive working from home: Emulate your workspace
You know not to work from your bed. Ok great. But where are you supposed to work then? Well, you’re at home so your options are limited.
What you can do is emulate to the best of your ability your ideal workspace.
Do you need the sound of background chatter to feel calm? Throw in your headphones and play a Spotify coffee shop playlist. Do you normally sit at a desk when being effective? Clear a spot at your kitchen table for your work. Set up your at-home work environment to mirror that of your ideal setting.
For me, that means working downstairs on the couch (I have pillows set up to provide back and arm support) in the early morning. I then work upstairs at my clean desk for the remainder of the day. Sometimes I go headphones in, sometimes I have music playing on my Sonos speaker.
My environment reflects my ideal work setting and in turn fosters productivity.
How to be productive working from home: Eat like normal
Another major thing that you may start doing is snacking. I know so many people that fall victim to this siren song.
Because suddenly you are much closer to the kitchen.
To the cabinet with the sugary snacks just waiting for you to eat them. To the ice cream sitting in your freezer. The healthy snacks of the office are nowhere to be found. But you know what is? Gushers. Maybe you’re feeling stressed (who isn’t these days?), maybe you’re feeling bored. And guess what curbs those feelings?
Don’t fall for it though. The more you snack, and the poorer the snacks you eat, the worse you will feel. You’ll go from happy and productive to groggy and lethargic.
Instead then, eat like you normally would while working in the office. Eat your healthy breakfast when you normally would, grab a healthy snack when you normally would, etc. Don’t treat your work at home life like a perpetual cheat day.
Keep your body in its regular routine of healthy eating.
How to be productive working from home: Eat in different places
Speaking of food, something else you will want to do is eat in a different location than where you work. Because since you are working from home, your options for variety are limited.
And you don’t want to burn out by spending all your time sitting at the coffee table.
So instead, eat your meals away from where you work.
For me, I generally eat breakfast in the kitchen and have lunch at my dining room table. And as I mentioned earlier, I’ll work either while sitting on my downstairs couch or while at my desk upstairs. When you don’t have a lot of space, maximize what you do have so that there is plenty of variety.
How to be productive working from home: Curb loneliness
You are going to feel lonely. It’s going to happen so just start wrapping your head around it now. If you live with other people that are also home all day, it won’t be as bad. If your job requires you to be talking to other people constantly, it will be even easier.
But for someone like me, who spends the majority of my day writing in solidarity, loneliness is a very real thing.
So do your best to curb it as much as possible. FaceTime with friends, reach out to your family, stay connected.
One thing that I do is listen to either podcasts or audiobooks during meal times. For example, during breakfast I’ll have a podcast on the entire time. Why? Because podcasts are generally a conversation between two or more people. There is banter taking place. There are jokes or topics of interest being discussed.
Even if I’m only a silent listener, having a podcast playing while I eat gets me out of my head and into a room with another person.
Now, because of my reading goal for the year, I’ve been doing more audiobooks than podcasts lately, but the idea is the same. Hearing someone else’s voice for a while helps me feel less isolated.
How to be productive working from home: Have a plan for your day
Remember my summer break analogy from earlier? That feeling is all too real.
I have many friends that waste their time watching Netflix instead of actually getting anything done while working from home.
However, did you know that during the plague, Newton went home to his parents’ house? And during that time he came up with the whole apple falling from the tree thing? It’s true. He didn’t squander his time playing with an abacus or whatever, he used it to uncover the law of gravity.
If you want to know how to stay productive at home then, do this simple thing each day: write down what you want to do.
- Plan out your tasks and when you will do them.
- Have a list that you keep nearby.
- And then check things off of that list as you go.
In my own life, every Sunday I spend a solid hour or two planning out my entire week. And each evening during that week, I go through and update that plan as needed. In turn, I go into each day with focus and drive. I know what I need to work on and when.
So if you’re feeling a little scattered, fight the urge to put on Netflix and gloss through your day. Instead, create a plan and stick to it.
How to be productive working from home: Enjoy it
You have an amazing opportunity right now. Many people never get the chance to work from home. To gain more control over their lives and schedule. It can feel overwhelming at first, but once that subsides you will realize the tremendous amount of freedom before you.
So be sure to enjoy it!
If you want to take a break to go spend time with your kids in the other room, go do it. Or to play Super Smash Bros with your roommates, live it up. You can try setting some exciting goals or if you’re able to leave the house, go check out that trail that you’ve been wanting to run for a year.
Yes, you want to use your time productively, but also make sure to bake some time into your life for fun. Because you have been given a gift of newfound freedom and possibility.
Sure, it’s not the ideal circumstances.
But the opportunity is there nonetheless. So while everything around you feels like chaos, give yourself a break and have some fun.
Work from home moving forward
If you want to know how to make working from home work for you, be sure to utilize the tips above. Use them to inform your new work lifestyle and ensure that you spend your time productively. Getting thrust into the world of working from home can be intimidating, but in it is an amazing opportunity to be more productive than ever before.
Don’t see this period as time wasted. Don’t treat it like a lazy, confused, scatterbrained summer break.
Instead, be intentional with how you use this historic occasion and do something absolutely amazing with it. In a world where we are all living day-to-day, where long-term plans have been thrown out the window, you can only control what’s right in front of you.
So take control of your day and do something useful with this incredibly rare moment in time.