Working from home is not easy. With COVID-19 running rapid, many people around the world have transitioned to working from home. While some people love it, others hate it – but we can all agree that staying productive while working from home requires discipline. It’s not easy to stay productive while working from home when the couch and Netflix are only a few steps away.
When the pandemic spread like wildfire months ago, many people being thrust into working from home. Not only were we caught off guard by the virus, but our lives seemed to change overnight as stores, schools, and companies around the world abruptly shut down. Many people lost their jobs, while others were forced to change how they did business. Six months into the global pandemic and many companies (like Twitter) have decided to close their offices and have their employees work from home indefinitely.
To some, working from home is good news. Remaining in the comfort of your home is good for your health, but can be detrimental to your productivity if you aren’t careful. Working from home demands that you are even more focused and disciplined than when you were working outside of the home. Why? Because you are in the comfort of your own home with all of your favorite stuff and lots and lots of snacks.
Being a Mompreneur means that I run my business from home while simultaneously raising my three children (all under the age of 10). Since schools shut down, I have had the pleasure of being home with my kids all day, every day since the first week of March.
While I love being able to work from home, it is not easy. With three other people depending on me, my 24 hours are split between work tasks and mommy duties. I have diapers to change and deadlines to meet. I also have online meetings to attend and sibling quarrels to break up. If you are a work from home mom, you know exactly what I mean.
Because working from home requires discipline, the one thing that helps me to stay productive while working from home is the ability to prioritize. Whether you have deadlines to meet, calls to make, or small children running around all day, prioritizing your most important tasks will help you maximize your time. Of all the things you have to do today, what is most important? Do that first.
We only have 24 hours in a day, so unless you are willing to sacrifice your sleep, more than likely you won’t be able to get it all done in one day. PRO TIP: Start by determining the tasks that are most urgent, and do those first.
Working from home isn’t a free pass or excuse to slack off, in fact, it’s the opposite! Working from home demands that you are focused and efficient to be able to produce consistently. Create a calm work environment, keep a clear mind, take a rest when you need it, but work hard when it’s time to get things done.
If you want more tips on how to stay productive while working from home, keep reading.
10 Ways to Stay Productive While Working from Home
1. Do the things that get results first. If you have a project that you can complete in an hour, work on that task before you work on the things that will take all day to finish. Prioritize your tasks for the day into categories to help you know where to begin.
Example categories could include (but are not limited to):
- Urgent – requiring immediate action or attention
- Important – must complete by the end of the day
- Not important – needs attention, but can wait
2. Maintain regular office hours. Just as you had an allocated amount of work time when working outside of the home, I suggest maintaining those same office hours when working from home. Setting office hours places boundaries on your work and leisure time, helping you to keep a healthy work-life balance.
3. Wake up and get dressed for the day. When I first began working from home years ago, I made the mistake of working all day in my pajamas. When working from home, wake up and get dressed as if you were leaving your house. You don’t have to get too fancy, but I do suggest changing into an outfit that you wouldn’t fall asleep in. Because I am a work-from-home entrepreneur, I own an entire wardrobe of lounge-worthy work from home clothes.
4. Create a structured routine. When working from home, it’s easy to lose track of time. Keeping a structured work from home routine can help to make sure you remain productive – not just sometimes – but all the time. A structured routine also helps the family members you live with to know when you are and aren’t available during the day.
5. Have realistic expectations when working from home. When I first became an entrepreneur, I had two children under the age of three and I had high ambitions. My expectations weren’t realistic, and I put too much pressure on myself. After months of overworking myself, I burnt out and became completely discouraged from moving forward. Set realistic expectations from the beginning and you can pace yourself throughout the day without any unnecessary pressure.
6. Schedule breaks. Breaks are very important when it comes to working from home. For that reason, it’s important to schedule breaks throughout the day. It’s easy to get into “the zone” and forget to stop and recharge. I like to work in 90-minute uninterrupted increments with breaks in between. Set alarms to remind you when it is time to take a break.
7. Create a dedicated workspace. When working from home, it’s easy to get comfortable wherever you can. However, this is not the best option when it comes to being focused and productive. Find a space in your home that you can dedicate to getting work done. Working in one dedicated workspace subconsciously puts you in the mood to work, helping you to become more productive. Keep this space tidy to keep your stress levels low while working.
8. Limit distractions. When working from home, simple distractions can become more prevalent. You are only a few steps away from the refrigerator, your cell phone, and the television. To stay productive while working from home, limit your distractions to remain focused. I set my phone on do not disturb and don’t log into social media until my work tasks are complete.
9. Get lots of natural light throughout the day. Studies show that receiving natural light improves health and wellness, leading to increased levels of productivity. If you can, choose a workspace that is near a window. As you work, open the window to let fresh air in and pull the curtains back to let sunlight in.
10. Eat healthy snacks throughout the day. It’s no secret that most of us are eating more due to being home more. If you are a snacker like I am, make those snacks work to your advantage. Your brain thrives on healthy food, so feed your brain as you feed your body. Eat healthy snacks that boost your morale and give you energy. Also, be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day to ensure you are staying well hydrated. My favorite water bottle has time markers to remind me to drink water.