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Five Tips Guaranteed to Make You More Productive When Working From Home

Record numbers of people work from home either a couple of days per week or full-time. Working from home has become the norm since the COVID-19 pandemic when various government-enforced lockdowns forced people from the traditional workplace. Although working from the comfort of your home comes with many benefits, it also comes with challenges, particularly when effectively managing time.

As someone who has worked remotely for the best part of two decades, I am perfectly placed to give you five tips to improve your productivity throughout the day and help you manage your time more effectively. I’ve made many mistakes over the years and fallen into many traps; this article will prevent you from doing the same.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

First and foremost, you must create a dedicated workspace that is only used for work purposes. It is tempting to plop yourself down on the couch, turn on the TV, and work from your living room. Don’t! Your workspace should only be used for work, not the pastimes you enjoy. Set up your home workspace away from the TV, where you bet on sports online and where you play video games. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy these fun activities once the working day ends.

A spare bedroom is ideal for a dedicated workspace because it is out of the way of most traffic in your home, so it is likely quiet and free from distractions. If you do not have a spare bedroom, find an area of your home where you can close the doors and lock yourself away from the “normal” world.

Ensure your workspace is comfortable, with a supportive chair and a desk that promotes good posture. Proper lighting is important, too, because it will help prevent eye strain. You can find cheap but effective office-related furniture at IKEA and Office Depot; your employer will often pay for these items if they request you work from home.

Set a Schedule and Stick to It

Establishing a daily routine is crucial for effectively managing your time. When you work from home, the lines between personal time and work can become blurry, which often leads to overworking or procrastination. Setting specific working hours and sticking to them like glue is the best way to combat this.

Begin and end your workday at the same time each day, as you would in a traditional office setting. While it is okay to occasionally work over your allotted hours, try not to make this a regular occurrence. Would you stay behind in the office for three hours every day? Probably not.

Using a digital planner or calendar helps organize your tasks, enabling you to allocate time efficiently. It is essential to inform those you live with about your work schedule. Tell them when you are working and only to disturb you during your scheduled breaks. I have lost count of the times my partner asked for a ride to the store or her friend’s house because she wrongly believed I could break off working at any point.

Prioritize Tasks

When you work from home, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of tasks that need to be completed, making prioritizing those tasks one of the most important things you can do. Create a to-do list at the start of each day, identifying the most critical tasks that require immediate attention. Tackling high-priority or challenging tasks first thing when your energy levels are at their highest can significantly boost your productivity.

I have used the Pomodoro Technique for the past few years, dramatically improving my productivity. It involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break. If a task takes four cycles of 25 minutes, I take a more extended 20-minute break. Those focused periods of work followed by the short break help prevent burnout during the day.

Some other home workers swear by the 52/17 method, which recommends 52 minutes of focused work followed by 17 minutes of complete resting and recharging. Find a system that works for you.

Limit Distractions

Working from home makes distractions more likely than in a traditional office setting. Look around where you are now, listen to the sounds, and you’ll quickly realize your home is a quagmire of potential distractions. It may not seem much if you are distracted for only 30 seconds, and it takes another 30 seconds to regain focus. However, multiply that by 20 distractions per day, five days per week, and you have lost more than 100 minutes by the end of the week. The actual figure is likely to be greater.

Consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones or playing calm background music to help you concentrate. Work away from busy areas of your home and out of view of the television. Downloading software preventing you from accessing specific websites is a good idea if you waste time checking social media platforms or other non-work-related websites when you should be working.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks is crucial to your overall productivity throughout the day. It may seem counterintuitive, but briefly stepping away from your computer helps you relax and clear your mind, leading to better productivity. Make yourself a cup of coffee, briefly walk around your living room or yard, or perform gentle stretches regularly. Doing so prevents burnout and helps boost your mood and energy levels.

In a traditional office setting, you naturally take regular breaks when you use the photocopier, speak to a colleague, or use the vending machine. Most home workers do not have these things, so those natural breaks do not occur. Ensure you take some time away from working because even five minutes here and there will work wonders for your productivity.

Conclusion

Working from home requires a proactive approach to managing time and maintaining productivity. You don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, you are in a more relaxed environment, and the potential distractions are plentiful.

Start by setting up a dedicated workspace that will help you maintain an element of professionalism. This workspace should be in one of the less busy areas of your home, away from the television, which is one of your biggest distractions.

Set a work schedule and adhere to it religiously, informing those you live with about when you are working and when you are on a break. Spend the first part of your workday organizing tasks, focusing on the high-priority tasks first thing when your energy levels and focus are likely at their peak.

Limit distractions throughout the day and remember to take regular breaks; even a couple of minutes to stretch or drink a glass of water is enough to rest your mind. Incorporate these tips into your home work life, and you’ll be more productive and enjoy the flexibility and freedom working from home provides.

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