Working from home has its perks because you can limit distractions and interruptions, but there are also a lot of things that can hinder productivity. Instead of taking quick coffee breaks as you would when working in an office environment, you find yourself doing laundry, cleaning, and, in some cases, even tending to your kids.
I have to admit that I’ve been working from home for the last six years and I absolutely love it, but it’s always been a goal of mine to be able to work wherever I want so long as I have my laptop. On the other hand, I can see how working from home can also be a challenge, especially for those who aren’t used to it.
Here are some quick facts and stats about remote work:
- As reported in 2020, 5 million employees (making up 3.6% of the entire U.S. workforce) work from home for at least half the time.
- The number of regularly telecommuting employees (excluding the self-employed population) has grown by 173% since 2005.
- Larger companies are more likely to offer telecommuting flexibility than are smaller ones.
- Employers offering at least part-time telecommuting flexibility collectively save $44 billion each year.
- An impressive 86% of employees say they’re most productive when they work alone.
- Employers who offer a work from home option have had employee turnover rates fall by over 50%.
- Of millennial job seekers, 68% said a work from home option would greatly influence their interest in working for a company.
1. Create a to-do list
Beginning your day with a list of things you want to accomplish on that day is important when figuring out how to structure your time. What I’ve found works well is:
- Pick the top three tasks you want to complete for the day.
- Add two additional tasks you want to get started on.
- Attach the times by which you want to finish each of these tasks.
Once you do this, you’ll also be able to figure out when you can take a break and make time for other things such as spending time with your family, etc.
An app I use is “Due” — it consistently alerts me to the things on my to-do list. I can snooze items I’m not ready to get to yet, but it’s a great way for me to be reminded of what needs to be done for that day and it’s especially useful for repetitive tasks.
Further, if you’re a hardcore Mac user like me, check out these to-do apps by Zapier:
- Things: Best blend of powerful features with elegant design
- Todoist: Best to do list app for Mac users who need to sync with other platforms
- OmniFocus: Best option for power users and GTD fans
- Reminders: Best simple option for Apple-only users
- GoodTask: Best way to make Reminders more powerful
- 2Do: Best fully customizable to do list with multiple syncing options
- TaskPaper: Best text-based list for managing tasks with only your keyboard
- TickTick: Best cross-platform option that feels native to the Mac
2. Set daily goals
As a mom of two, I get that trying to set goals at the end of a long work day with kids in the mix can be hard, especially with our current #quarantinelife situation. My husband and I joke that our lives consist of only two things right now: kids and work.
I try to limit my goals to just three per day as a stretch goal and then two being acceptable. This feels realistic, which helps me not be so hard on myself. I push to overachieve as much as possible, but sometimes it’s good to give yourself some breathing room, too.
3. Have a dedicated workspace
One thing that’s helped me is to have a place where I can hunker down and focus on getting work done. That’s why I recommend having a dedicated workspace. Doing that will allow you to get into the zone and also establish boundaries to limit interruptions. Here’s what I do:
- I generally keep the door to my office open so I can at least keep a pulse on my kids and be approachable.
- If I shut my door, it means I’m talking to a client, whether 1:1 or via a conference call, or I need to concentrate. I don’t have the door shut for longer than one hour at a time.
- I play music throughout the day – it helps with my productivity. As well as being therapeutic, music has been found to help increase creativity, reduce stress, and keep you focused. (Check out this article on Entrepreneur to read more.)
4. Make time for exercise
Structuring your day to make time for even 20 minutes of exercise can substantially boost your energy levels, lift your mood, and reduce stress and anxiety. More specifically, per this Harvard article: Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.
I can’t say that what works for me will work for everyone, but, truth be told, there are days when I don’t have a ton of motivation to run or work out. What I do to combat this is to push myself regardless of how I feel. I find I’m fine once I get into the groove – and I always feel 100x better afterwards.
Something else that’s helped me tremendously is getting a Peloton Tread. I’ve always enjoyed running and now that I’m a member, it’s great to get on the Tread and pick a quick 20–30-minute class to join. Having the instructor there to motivate me along the way keeps the momentum going for me.
5. Write down everything you accomplished
At the end of every day, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down all that I’ve accomplished. This includes everything from work to kids to exercise, etc. Doing this allows me to reflect on my day, see what I’ve achieved, and then practice gratitude.
It also allows me to look at how my days are being spent on a macro level compared to what I intended to do. I can see what I completed vs. what I set out to complete. From there, I make the necessary adjustments to avoid falling short again in future.
Wrapping It Up
As you push to be productive while working from home, keep these tips in mind, and also add in what works best for you. It’s all about positioning yourself to produce exceptional work and results while also taking breaks in between.
My last piece of advice is to make sure you get out of your PJs and actually get ready for work as if you’re going into the office or meeting a client. This helps shift your mindset and focus, ultimately boosting productivity.