10 Tips to Productively Work From Home

Blair Dietrich

04/3/20

1. Get started early, repurpose your commute
​​​​​​​When working in an office, your morning commute can help you wake up and feel ready to work by the time you get to your desk. Although working from home can have the perk of catching a few extra minutes of pillow time, it can actually make your transition from sleep to work much more strenuous. Rather than soaking up those extra few minutes of sleep, maintain your normal schedule and repurpose your commute time for a morning workout, self-renewal routine, or family time.

2. Pretend you are going into the office.
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It can be easy to lose your sense of routine when working from home. The mental association between work and an office can make you more productive, and there's no reason that feeling should be lost when working from home. To keep this distinct association between the two, prepare your morning as if you were going into the office, set your alarm, make (or go get) coffee, and wear nice clothes.

3. Structure your day like you would in the office.
​​​​​​​When working from home, you're the only person present to keep you accountable and on track. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out.

To stay on schedule, segment what tasks you'll do and when you’ll do them. Giving your day structure will help keep you from burning out. Use an online calendar to create personal events and reminders that alert you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. Google Calendar makes this easy.

4. Location, location, location
​​​​​​​Try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable space to work from that you can assocaite with your job and leave when you're off the clock – that means get off the couch, and definitly out of bed.

5. Set out to do more
​​​​​​​Projects generally take longer than you initially think they will. Just as you're encouraged to overestimate how much time you'll spend doing one thing, you should also overestimate how many things you'll do during the day. Even if you come up short of your goal, you'll still come out of that day with a solid list of tasks filed under 'complete.'

6. Save calls for the afternoon
​​​​​​​Sometimes in the morning, you're tired and you don't even want to hear your voice– let alone talk to others with it. give yourself some extra time before working directly with others.

If you're struggling to come up with a reasonable work schedule for yourself, start with the solitary tasks in the morning. Save phone calls, meetings, and other collaborative work for when you've officially "woken up."

7. Use technology to stay connected
​​​​​​​Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off the larger operation happening in the office. Utilize instant message and video conference apps like Zoom to check in with coworkers throughout your day/week.

8. Communicate with anyone who will be home while you're working.
​​​​​​​Of course, you may be working from home but you likely have children, spouses, parents, or roommates at home as well.  Make sure it is communicated when you are available to them and when you are working. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're home.

9. Take clear breaks.
​​​​​​​It can be so easy to get distracted that you avoid breaks altogether. Don't let the guilt of working in the building you sleep in, prevent you from taking a 10 to take a mental break. Rather than just opening YouTube and watching some comfort clips, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house.

10. Pick a definitive finishing time each day.
​​​​​​​You might be under the impression that working from home establishes more work-life balance, but be careful with that assumption. Working from home can also feel like being at a casino -- you can get so caught up in your activity, in a relaxing environment, that you lose complete track of time.

Set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal work day is coming to an end. You don't have to stop at exactly that time, but knowing the work day is technically over can help you start the process of saving your work and calling it quits for the evening.

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