productive woman working from home

How To Be More Productive (While Working From Home)

Working from home isn’t a novelty anymore. In fact, for many of us, it’s a reality that is probably going to be with us for some time.

Even though we’re used to it now, however, the fact that it was so unexpected, made it feel temporary. So, our approach has been with this in mind. We’ve been provisional, resourceful and found short-term solutions.

But with flexible and remote working being the new norm, now is a good time to revisit some of these measures to check we’re working in the best way possible – especially as we seem to be in it for the long-haul.

Productivity has been one of the key elements that we’ve seen changes in over the past few months. With some finding it tricky to balance work, children and homelife all at the same time, while others are experiencing complete burnout from filling their time with work and little else.

So, as we take the time to reassess our daily schedules, let’s look at some of the best ways to work and be productive, so you can get more out of your day.


Working from home? Tips for staying productive


1) Take breaks

Taking breaks might not immediately strike you as the best way to be productive. However, it’s almost impossible for us as humans to fully concentrate on work for eight hours a day. So, by trying to accomplish this, it’s like we’re setting ourselves up for the impossible.

We’re actually only truly productive for around 3-4 hours a day. And this needs breaking up into slots. So, a break could be anything from taking a quick walk around the block, switching your focus, grabbing a coffee or simply meditating for 10 minutes.

Trying to continually push through barriers will slow you down, make you tired and stressed and most likely encourage tasks to take more out of your day than they should.


2) Time well spent

We all have a certain time during the day where we’re the most productive. This could be first thing, late morning or even early evening. It depends a little on whether you’re an early riser or a night owl. However, most people will find that they’re most productive around 11am. So, make sure that you keep this time free of meetings and dedicate it towards your most difficult tasks so you can get them done and out the way.


3) Don’t multi-task

Sometimes working from home can feel like we’re spinning plates. And when you have a lot on, keeping everything going can feel like a productive way to work. However, it can mean that you’re not giving any of your tasks your full concentration and you need to keep working through the steps several times to work out where you’re at. And this repetition takes both time and energy out of your day.

If you need to stop and prioritise, do that and make a list, then work through everything step by step.


4) Set your priorities and stick to them

Many of us love to help. And if a colleague has rung to ask for your time on a project, then it’s only natural to want to stop everything to assist. However, if this is happening several times a day, it can get to the point where everything you need to do is getting continuously pushed back. And this can make you feel very unproductive.

If something is urgent, then you can reassess your priorities with your manager. However, if something can be left for another day, make sure you get your work done first and then see what time you have left to help others. At least that way, you’re spending your time getting through your own to-do list – not someone else’s.


5) Check in with yourself

We’re human. And that means we’re not pre-programmed to be constantly at one hundred per cent all day, every day. In fact, some days we’ll be quite the opposite – tired, down or just distracted with other things that are going on in life.

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that everyone experiences days like this. And it’s also worth remembering that just because you’re feeling like this, doesn’t mean nothing is going to get done. But it is worth making sure that you approach the day in a way that is sensitive to how you are feeling.

So, if you just know it’s going to be a day where you will find it hard to concentrate, then find the tasks that are quick to do and don’t require too much of your creativity, so you can still get things done even though it’s not your best day.


6) Prioritise the difficult tasks

We all have weeks where we have a really big project hanging over us. And leaving the most difficult tasks to the end of the week isn’t always wise. More often than not, doing this will end up leaving you feeling stressed and turn a hill into a mountain.

Put it at the top of your list, break it down into parts and face it head on.


7) Have quiet time

Distractions are easy to come by in both the office and at home. And wherever you’re working, it pays to identify what takes you away from your work so you can give it your all.

Having all your chat notifications turned on while trying to work is a little like having a house stocked full of crisps and chocolate while going on a diet. It’s too easy and too tempting. At the beginning of the day, quieten the chats you don’t want to look at during the day. That way, you can set yourself up for a more focused time to work.


8) Discover what you do well and find where you can make improvements

None of us are perfect and some will find that they are good at working on one thing in detail and others will find that they are much more productive coming up with ideas and thinking across the board.

Either way, play to your strengths and then find ways of developing your weaknesses so you can improve.


9) Break up your day

With limited opportunities to leave the house, many of us are finding we’re sat in the same room all day every day. And it’s understandable that this doesn’t always set us up for an exciting day of creative output.

Make sure you prioritise yourself and change up your routine with things that give you energy and leave you feeling refreshed.


10) Keep lists

Most of us have lists of what we need to do in a day. However, having one big to-do list can sometimes be very off-putting. Getting through everything in one day is unrealistic. And at the same time, when you don’t get to cross everything off, it can feel like you haven’t done as much as you should.

As well as having your overall to do list, set three things aside that you want to have done before the end of the day. Then set three things as bonus tasks so if you get to those then great but if not, it’s ok.

This is a really helpful way to not only be more productive but also help you feel more productive too.


11) Don’t work weekends

We’re currently in a space where work and homelife are regularly spilling into each other. And especially as there haven’t been many opportunities to get out the house, getting an extra bit done over the course of a weekend can be tempting.

However, many who do this can often find that come Monday, they don’t feel very well rested and it’s even harder to stay productive.

Make sure you get a proper rest and a change of scene at the weekend, away from your screen.


12) Exercise

Exercise is not only great for clearing the mind but it’s also good for raising your endorphins so that you can boost your mood during the day.

And why not take advantage of working from home by fitting in a lunchtime run or a bit of light Yoga before your first meeting of the day?


13) Meditate

Meditation isn’t just a good tool for helping you relax. Its main focus is actually to help you focus. To help calm the noise so you can feel more able to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Mindfulness is also good for this. By taking a few minutes out of your day to feel present and centred, you can really help your concentration levels and increase your attention span too.


14) Stay in regular contact with your team

We often work best when we work as a team. And while working from home, it’s really important we’re not separated from our colleagues. Having regular catch ups and staying in touch with each other throughout the day is really important for collaboration, ideation and general morale.


15) Have a stopping time

Work doesn’t always stop at a certain time and if you are task focused, rather than time focused, you might find work eats more out of your day than it should. Make sure you have a stopping time that’s fairly regular so that you still have the concept of a working day while working from home.


16) Be creative in your work

Being creative is a really big motivator for many people. And if you can find new ways to be creative in your work – or even just during the day at home – this will really help you to feel more positive and energised.

And if you can find new ways to be creative with your work, that’s always a bonus!


17) Have a work playlist

Working in complete silence can sometimes be quite an intense experience. Equally, if you have a lot going on around you (with various people all at home at the same time) then having a way of blocking out all the distractions can be a good way to focus.

Put together a work playlist and invest in some good quality, noise cancelling headphones. This is a great way to help you concentrate.

When selecting the right music to accompany your working day, make sure you choose music with very few lyrics (classical music is a great choice) but also music that isn’t too upbeat or erratic. Low-fi is a great choice, any sort of coffee house playlist as well as nature sounds such as rain and bird song.


18) Find a balance

Tools such as Skype and Teams are great for giving colleagues a way of working quickly and efficiently together. However, they can be distracting and often interrupt your workflow.

It’s important to find a balance therefore between leaving yourself open to messages and collaborating and having some quiet time so you can think.

Too much of one and you can be left feeling distracted and unproductive. Too much of the other and you can end up feeling a bit isolated – so balance really is key.


19) Don’t be afraid to mix things up

It can really help to have a routine in place while working from home – especially if you have children. However, for some, sticking to the same routine day-in, day-out, can mean too much of the same thing. That’s why it’s good to mix up your working day and try to change things around a bit.

Whether that’s mixing up your tasks throughout the day or simply moving your routine around to freshen things up.


20) Be kind to yourself

When you’re in the office, it’s a bit clearer as to what’s a feasible amount to get done in a working day. At home however, the boundaries are often less clear which means you can feel like you should always be doing more. And this continuous pressure can lead to quite a lot of stress.

It’s important to be kind to yourself and find ways to put yourself first throughout the day. That way you actually end up giving more – in all aspects of your life – because you can feel a lot more relaxed and ready to take the world on.


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