What are your top tips for staying productive when working from home?
To help you stay productive, we asked CEOs and business leaders this question for their best pieces of advice. From not pushing off tasks to respecting your boundaries, there are several strategies that may help you stay productive when working remotely.
Here are twelve pieces of advice for staying productive:
- Don’t Push Off Tasks to Tomorrow
- Check Off a Realistic To-do List
- Cultivate a Dedicated Workspace
- Stay Away from the Apps
- Commit to Taking Breaks
- Set Alarms
- Consider WFL
- Manage Your Time and Scheduling
- Set Boundaries with Family Members
- Block Out Distractions with Productivity Apps
- Respect Your Boundaries
Don’t Push Off Tasks to Tomorrow
When you’re setting your own schedule and managing your task load, it can often be very tempting to push a task off until tomorrow. However, if you want to stay productive you have to hold yourself accountable—just as if your manager happened to be in the next room.
Start by never assigning yourself more work than you can accomplish in a day, and make it a habit to complete the last task listed before you sign off for the day. Once you get through a few weeks, you’ll be aware of what you can handle in one day, and what may need to be spread out over multiple working days.
Shaun Price, MitoQ
Check Off a Realistic To-do List
I stay productive as a work-from-home writer and team lead by creating a realistic daily to-do list. I make a game of seeing how many items I can check off by the end of my work day. Luckily, my tasks are varied in type, priority, and deadline. This means I have the luxury of keeping my time filled by matching my to-do list to my productivity levels throughout the day.
Since I’m most productive early in the morning and right after lunch, that’s when I schedule completing projects involving the most creativity, such as writing articles or crafting process improvements. Between those times, I take care of administrative tasks such as logging articles and sending reminders to writers.
I also make sure not to overschedule my tasks, which can be counterproductive. This includes factoring in a block of time each day for the unexpected. So on days with no issues needing immediate attention, I’m able to make headway on evergreen tasks.
Karen Condor, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com
Cultivate a Dedicated Workspace
Working from home has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. If I were to give the most critical tip for staying productive while working remotely, I would say you should focus on creating a dedicated workspace. Although working from your bed or couch can be enticing, try setting something more formal. You might have a temporary workspace in the dining room or a more traditional desk and office area at home.
Your workspace should ideally include a door, so you can block out distractions and be shut in with anything you might need nearby, like a computer, printer, paper, and headphones. Avoid constantly standing up to grab things you might need because doing so will reduce your productivity.
One of the critical disadvantages of working from home is that distractions make it easy to be bogged down. Hence, it would be best if you cultivated an environment designed from the ground up for you to reach your maximum potential in terms of productivity.
Vikesh Verma, ProofHub
Stay Away from the Apps
You know what’s distracting—other humans. When they reach out, they give you this sense of urgency, and the less you want to do your work, the more you’ll be under the impression that you need to reply to people immediately.
Avoid this procrastination tool by keeping your phone offline and all communication apps closed when you do your most important work. Yes, that includes Slack and email. I keep communication lines closed during the morning and then check in during lunch. It helps me get a few solid hours of work in before I let anyone distract me.
Sofie Couwenbergh, Let Me Write That Down for You
Commit to Taking Breaks
Chances are high that your work-from-home role leaves you exhausted. Dig deeper and you will find that the one reason this is happening is that you are just not taking enough breaks. And this is probably because you assume you’re at home anyway, so you wonder why you even need them.
This approach is where it all goes wrong because even though you’re in a more comfortable environment at home, your mind and body still need breaks to stay refreshed. The best way out is to follow the same routine you would at the office. Take the same amount of breaks for the same durations, and if your team isn’t doing it, ask them to jump on board too.
Mary Jurgensen, Gary and Mary West PACE
When working at home, setting an alarm can be a godsend. It’s easy for time to slip away from you in a work-from-home environment. You might get up for a few minutes to stretch your legs, go to wash some dishes, or step out to walk the dog. Whatever the reason, it’s easy for a few minutes of stepping away from your work to turn into a big chunk of missed time.
One thing that helps with this is having a daily check-in alarm on your mobile device. This is just a simple reminder that can help you avoid lost time. If there is a moment where you need something, you might want to set a timer before stepping away from your desk to take care of a small task. Though it’s a bit tedious, both methods have really helped get me back to work, especially on those days that are full of distractions.
Caleb Ulffers, Haven Athletic
My biggest advice is to learn how to compartmentalize effectively, and this is mainly true for synchronous versus asynchronous tasks. Synchronous tasks like meetings belong together, while asynchronous tasks allow for deeper work.
For instance, have days of the week where you only have calls, while on other days take no calls. Even a single call in the middle of the day can break up your whole thought process.
Iliya Valchanov, 3veta
I’m a through-and-through extrovert. I’m also a creative person. That means that although I sometimes need time alone—and I love that for project work—I get energized by being around people. So you can imagine I feel quite drained at the end of a day of sitting by myself in my boring home office.
One solution I’ve found to get around this is to move my desk to public places, turning work-from-home to work-from-library (WFL), work-from-coffee-shop (WFCS), or work-from-backyard (WFB)! Although it doesn’t seem like it would do much, this change of scenery has contributed to me being less drained at the end of the day, because I’m able to mix things up and be around people.
I’ve also found that if I choose to work outside my home for a day, it’s helpful to assign a project to myself for that period of time. This is especially effective for less-than-pleasant projects.
Justin Vajko, Dialog
Manage Your Time and Scheduling
Establish concrete time management principles and stick to them. Create a work schedule that works well for you and don’t stray too far from it to accomplish tasks efficiently. Working from home can be a great luxury, however, you have to be disciplined to make it work.
Document and schedule work in a planner or digital app to stay on top of your responsibilities. Schedule your work and practice meaningful time management to stay productive when working from home. Use your time wisely.
Dan Gray, Kotn Supply
Set Boundaries with Family Members
If you’re working from home and you live with your family, the lines between your professional and personal life can often get blurry, leaving you unfocused and distracted. Although they mean well, family members may interrupt your flow or distract you with personal chores or requests. This is why setting boundaries with family members is crucial to your productivity. Let them know when you are available to attend to them and when you need to focus on the task at hand.
Marc Roca, 4WD Life
Block Out Distractions with Productivity Apps
I block online distractions by using a work productivity application. This allows me to block unnecessary websites such as social media. I am able to add authorized devices, websites, and applications, as well as create a functional schedule for my workday. By using a work productivity application, I am able to create a successful routine that benefits my overall work and life balance.
Sean Byrne, Sweetkick
Respect Your Boundaries
While the flexibility of working from home reached the height of its appeal in 2020, employees in 2022 need to be able to set their work-life boundaries. Just as an employee should ensure they’re signing on during the day to meet expectations at work, they need to be able to sign off and meet personal expectations for themselves.
You can do this by setting strict work hours for yourself, and once you are done for the day, you respect that boundary by closing your laptop and office door, as well as muting your phone. Resist the urge to continue working all hours of the day because your work now coexists in the same environment as your home. Set your work-life boundary and respect it day-to-day to keep a balance between your professional and personal life.
Brooke Krieger, ParkMobile
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