Do you work from home on a regular basis?
Maybe you work from your house or apartment every now and then, such as on dedicated remote work days, or when important work has to be completed ASAP.
While working from home certainly has it’s advantages (comfort and convenience immediately come to mind), it also has it’s disadvantages.
Distractions, disturbances, and a host of other interruptions can make getting things done quite a difficult feat.
Fortunately, it is possible to create a productive work environment for yourself.
You need just to create the structures and routines that will allow you to do your work in an effective manner as possible.
In this post, I offer a collection of seventeen ways you can boost your productivity when working from home.
Many of these tips may seem quite obvious…and they are!
Remember, when it comes working from home, your goal is to create a comfortable and structured work environment.
Now, onto the tips!
Create a distinctive workspace for yourself.
It’s important to have a dedicated workspace for yourself so you have all the tools, resources, and space you need to get things done. Where do you do your work when you’re at home? Do you use the desk in your home office, a small desk in your living room, a workstation in your basement or garage, a card table in your den, or even the kitchen or dining room table?
If you haven’t yet designated a workspace for yourself, now’s the right time to do so. If you’re creating a workspace within a small corner or area of a room, make sure you declutter the area thoroughly so you have enough room to do your work.
Corral and organize office supplies.
Once you’ve identified where you’ll work, it’s time to make sure your office supplies are in order. At the very least, you’ll want to have the bare basics nearby and ready to use including: pencils, pens, stapler, staples, clear tape, ruler, paper clips, binder, clips, notebooks, files, writing paper, and the like.
You can either purchase office supply storage containers to store items, or simply make use of containers you already have at home, such as plastic, wooden, metal, or glass cups, mugs, jars, trays, food storage containers, and the like. If you’re short on desk space, you could store office supplies in a rolling cart, freestanding filing cabinet, dresser, vanity, sideboard, or hutch.
Set regular work hours.
Now that you’ve created a workspace and storage for your supplies, it’s time to set regular work hours for yourself. Doing so ensures you’ll actually “show up to the office” and put in the hours you need to in order to do your work.
You can choose whatever work hours or combinations you’d like, just make sure they are consistent with your line of work. For example, if you need to make outside phone calls to clients and vendors during traditional office hours, you’d probably want to work somewhere between the hours of 8 A.M. and 6 P.M.
You may want to schedule these work hours directly into your personal calendar or shared family calendar so it is crystal clear as to when you are working.
Establish a dedicated work routine.
Once you’ve set up regular work hours, the next step is to set up a dedicated work routine. This is a series of tasks or actions that you will perform each day, without fail, in your work day. It doesn’t matter so much as to how you set up your routine, so long as it works for your personal preferences and habits.
For example, if you’re a writer and you know you do your best work in the morning, your work routine may be to write and edit from 9 A.M. to 12 P.M., take a lunch break, and then do research and answer emails in the afternoon from 1 P.M. to 5 P.M.
Get dressed for work.
You can wear pretty much whatever you want when you work from home, so why not get into the habit of getting dressed for work? Make an effort to put on whatever work uniform suits your personal preferences, be it a button-down shirt and suit, jeans and t-shirt, khakis and polo shirt, sweat shirt and pants, or lounge wear.
Keep in mind, however, while you want to be comfortable as you work, you don’t want to be too comfortable so that your work begins to suffer. If this is the case, you may want to don whatever helps you to focus during the day — be it jeans, a suit, or simply exchanging your ultra-comfy pajamas for comfy lounge wear.
Remove personal items from your workspace.
No matter where your workspace is located in your home, make sure it is free of non-work items before you begin your work. Make a point to declutter and remove any and all personal items from your work area including clothing, books, magazines, notes, paper files, sports equipment, appliances, and so on.
If you are short on space at home, at least be sure to remove personal items from the immediate area of your desk or workstation, say three feet in either direction of your workspace. You can then place unneeded items in a different corner or closet in the room.
Eliminate unnecessary distractions.
Distractions can derail even the most well-meaning work sessions. Do what you must to reduce or eliminate potential distractions in your home. This may include technology-based distractions: temporarily switching off your cell phone, setting your landline phone to voicemail, disabling social media status updates on your cell phone or computer, logging out of your email inbox, or switching off your internet connection while you work.
Don’t forget to appropriately address other environmental distractions in your home. You may want to corral pets to another area or room of your home, ask other people in your household not to disturb you, shut or close doors, draw curtains and window treatments, and wear headphones or earplugs.
Take care of your work tools.
If you want to work well, it’s a good idea to take proper care of your work tools. Return office supplies and other work materials to their storage locations when you are finished using them. Likewise, you should be on the lookout for tools that need to be updated, refreshed, sharpened, or reordered. Make a note in your calendar to properly take care of these items as soon as you can.
Eat a hearty breakfast.
How can you expect to do your best work at home on an empty stomach? Make a point to eat a full hearty and healthy breakfast each and every day before you begin work.
Your body and mind will have the energy they need to sculpt, read, write revise, hone, present, call, email, file, draw, assemble, or accomplish whatever type of work you do from home.
Use a dedicated work calendar or schedule.
Keep all of your work tasks, notes, meetings, and appointments contained in one place with a dedicated work calendar or schedule. This makes it easy to see at-a-glance how your work days are shaping up in terms of work accomplished, work to be done, work to follow up on, and so on.
You could use a separate paper calendar or schedule to keep track of work related items and keep it on your desk or nearby your workstation. If you prefer using a digital calendar, you can create a separate work calendar that overlays with your personal calendar, so you can look at work entries in a pinch.
Schedule work sessions, meetings, and appointments into your calendar.
Once you’ve got your work calendar set up, it’s imperative you keep it up to date with the latest meetings and appointments you’ve set for yourself. At the end of each work day, be sure to review your notes and schedule for the week and make sure you’ve appropriately scheduled in upcoming meetings and appointments. Don’t forget to add relevant conference call information or travel time to your calendar if you need it.
Take your full lunch break.
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need or have to stay chained to your desk. Make a conscious effort to get away from from your workspace and take your full lunch break to eat, rest, and relax.
You can either dine in, order in, or eat out at a local restaurant or cafe. Whatever you do, make sure you take your full meal time to recharge from your morning’s work. If you need to, schedule in your lunch break into your calendar to make the habit stick.
Get an analog or digital wall clock for your workspace.
While clocks are readily available on cell phones, watches, and tablets, computers, and laptops, there’s something to be said for glancing up at your work and seeing the time on a wall clock. Who knows why this is the case, but it’s almost as if the clock adds an air of “I’m serious about my time” to one’s immediate environment!
If you want to change up your work environment, try adding a large analog or digital clock to your desk or workspace. You may find you are more aware of the passage of time with a wall clock, than not.
Purchase and use a hanging wall calendar.
Like the above clock suggestion, a wall calendar helps tie in one’s awareness of the passage of time. A wall calendar makes it easy to see what day it is and how many days remain in the week or month.
Plus, it’s easy to refer to a wall calendar when you’re on the phone or making plans in your work. As an added bonus, you can choose any type of calendar theme or type you’d like to add a refreshing decorative touch to your workspace.
Set up smart systems.
Setting up proper systems at home can save you a ton of energy and time. When you streamline your work routines, tasks, and systems, you can spend more time on what really matters, rather than trying to figure out which file goes where, or what steps you need to take when backing up your computer.
You can create systems for almost anything you use in your home office. This includes creating systems for filing, billing, client intake, writing emails, and so on. What smart system could you set up today in your workspace?
Take regular breaks during the day.
You work hard, so why not reward yourself with a well-deserved break? Get up from your desk and stretch, get a drink of water, take a walk around your home, sing a few songs, daydream, or just look out the window.
Do whatever you need to do to break up the flow of your work. Just be sure you don’t take too long of a break and forget to head back to your workstation!
End the workday with a routine.
Having an end of day routine in place can help you better transition between your work and personal life. This routine doesn’t have to be anything fancy or complicated, it just has to be a series of practical steps that will help you get your mind and body ready for the switch from being at work, to being at home.
How about you? Which of these working from home productivity tips do you already use? Which of these tips are you going to put into action later today or this week? What changes could you make to your home office or work space to help you be more productive during work hours? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!