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Last Updated on February 17, 2021

How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

From tutors to translators, virtual assistants to copywriters, more and more jobs are calling for remote workers and becoming home-based. While that may be a dream for some, switching from a structured office environment to the comfort of your own home can be challenging in surprising ways. Learning how to work from home is important if you want to be efficient and effective at your job, so we’ll start you off with some great working from home tips. 

At home there are many distractions, less accountability, and less communication than when you’re working in the office. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still be productive. There are lots of ways to keep yourself working productively from any location.

Whether you work from home every day, a couple of times per week, or even if you’re just working from home while you recover from an illness, these tips can help you to get the most out of your remote work hours.

1. Keep Regular Work Hours

When learning how to work from home full time or part time, one of the most important and basic things you can do is to create a regular schedule for yourself. It’s tempting to give yourself total flexibility as to when you get started, take breaks, and call it a day.

However, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t keep your schedule consistent. Setting yourself regular hours keeps you accountable to yourself and to your boss. It makes you more likely to get all your work done, and it makes it easier for people to get in touch with you[1].

Here are the important factors to consider when you’re setting an at-home work schedule:

  • When your boss needs you to be available
  • Communication with your coworkers and customers
  • Time of day when you are most productive

This doesn’t mean that you need to work 9-5 every day. You should work when you’re most productive. However, it’s a good idea to find out when your boss really needs you to be at work. For example, it will be important to know when any conference calls are planned so you can fit that into your day.

For example, many employees work on checking emails each morning, or they need to be available by phone in the afternoons. Other than that, choose times when you’re likely to get the most work done. Communicate those hours of availability to anyone that might need to get in touch with you, and you’ll be on your way to productive, consistent work days.

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2. Separate Work Time and Personal Time

Just as it’s important to work when you say you will, it’s important to give yourself time for home life when you need it. Don’t extend the work day too far beyond what you planned, at the risk of burning yourself out.

One of the most important working from home tips is to keep your work life and personal life compartmentalized as it helps you stay productive while you’re at work, and it reduces stress when you aren’t. In the same way that you set your work hours, schedule, communicate, and plan when you will not be available to work.

For example, if you like to take evenings to spend time with family, make sure you communicate that you won’t be checking emails after a certain time. And then hold yourself to that commitment!

In order to better balance your time, consider using a planner to organize your everyday schedule. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you to so. Grab your planner and start to plan your time so you will not lose track of life.

3. Plan Your Workflow

When you want to learn how to work from home efficiently, one surefire way to keep productivity up is to get smart about planning your work day. Before you even start working, make sure you know what your priorities are for the day, how long you think it will take you to get everything done, and what you will work on if you have extra time.

You might find it helpful to take a few minutes before you go to bed to plan for the next day. You may find that you sleep better without the stress of planning in the back of your mind.

In your planning, consider the following:

  • Do the highest priority tasks first
  • Plan your day around your own natural cycles—do the hardest work when you have the most energy throughout the day
  • Plan rewards and breaks throughout the day

This way, you can always stay focused and will not get distracted easily. If you find yourself getting distracted easily, check out this free guide End Distraction And Find Your Focus. You will learn how to get rid of distractions while working from home in the guide. Grab your free guide here.

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You can learn more about how to make sure you’re actually working when working from home in this video:

4. Break up the Day

If you followed the last step, then you’ll have already planned breaks for yourself throughout the day. Make sure you get up from your desk during those breaks—get some fresh air, grab a healthy snack, and talk with another human being if at all possible. All of these activities will help you reset, get your blood flowing, and make sure you’re ready to tackle the next chunk of tasks.

One 2011 study found that workers who took two short breaks stayed consistently productive when given a particular task to complete, but when it came to the group who took no breaks, “performance declined significantly over the course of the task”[2].

This has everything to do with the way our brain registers what it should pay attention to and underscores the importance of taking breaks.

A second study found that the most productive workers were those that worked for around 50 minutes and then took a 15-20 minute break[3]. If you’re not accustomed to taking breaks, this may be a good pattern to start with.

If you have trouble sticking to a time limit for your breaks, set an alarm to remind you to get back to work. The Pomodoro method is great for this as it sets regular work hours and breaks. You can learn about the Pomodoro method here.

5. Dress Like You’re at Work

Even if you won’t be interacting with another person all day, it’s important to dress for success. This includes showering and brushing your teeth! Sweatpants and a T-shirt might be more comfortable, but you may also feel sluggish, sleepy, or unmotivated.

It’s also a good opportunity to give a new outfit a test drive—risk free!

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If you have a hard time motivating yourself to get ready in the morning, try laying out your outfit the night before, or planning an outing during the day so that you have to get dressed.

6. Create an At-Home Office

When you’re starting to learn how to work from home, it might be tempting to work from your couch, easy-chair, or even from your bed, but this could take a huge toll on your productivity. One of the best working from home tips I can give you is to try to always work from a consistent room, desk, or chair to tell your brain that it’s time for work, not relaxation.

When you do this, your brain will associate your bed with sleep, your couch with relaxation, and your desk with work, helping shift your energy levels accordingly[4].

You are likely to feel more alert, more confident, and more organized if you work from a home office. Set yourself up with a comfy, supportive chair, a spacious desk, good Wi-Fi, and consistent workplace tools.

Make sure to personalize your space. After all, you will be spending a lot of time there!

You can learn how to set up your home office space with this article: 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity

7. Don’t Allow Roomies

Being efficient while working from home is all about boundaries. This also means setting boundaries for kids, pets, family members, or roommates. Try to encourage them to leave you alone while you are working so you can stay focused.

Try to keep the boundaries friendly and playful, but make sure you stick to them. One fun idea is to make a sign for the door of your office that indicates whether you’re working or not. You can even have your children help you make the sign so they feel they’re not being left out.

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8. Be Your Own Janitor

Unlike in the office, you don’t have a janitor to clean up after you, which means you have to do it yourself. Keeping your home office clean helps you stay focused, get organized, and be productive. Even if you’re someone who isn’t bothered by a messy desk, keeping some semblance of order helps ensure that nothing important falls through the cracks (or gets lost in a stack of paper).

However, this goes beyond just keeping your home office clean. Having a messy home could inspire you to procrastinate on work tasks in favor of cleaning, which is bad news for your productivity[5].

Setting yourself a weekly cleaning schedule can help you keep on top of cleaning your home, so you won’t be tempted to clean during work hours.

9. Tune in to Inspiration

A great advantage of working from home is that you can’t distract your coworkers. Go ahead and play those pumped-up jams loud and proud if that’s what gets you moving. Or try a more soothing soundtrack with nature sounds, instrumental music, or even by leaving the windows open to let the sounds from outside come in.

If you’re doing repetitive tasks, an audiobook or podcast may even be what you need to keep moving. However, some people work better in silence. If you’re one of those people, resist the urge to put on music or have the TV on in the background.

10. Stay in the Loop

One of the best things about working in an office is the potential for collaboration and socialization. You don’t have to lose this just because you are working from home. When you are learning how to work from home, try to check in with your coworkers at least a couple of times per week, whether by email, phone, video call, social media, or even in person.

Make sure you keep up on a personal level, as well as a professional level. You can do this without taking a lot of time—just share the things that are most important, and encourage your coworkers to do the same.

The Bottom Line

Shifting your work environment to your home is challenging, but with a few simple changes to your routine and space, you’ll find you can still have a productive work day. Find what works for you and your family by trying out some of the working from home tips above.

More on How to Work From Home

Featured photo credit: Corinne Kutz via unsplash.com

Reference

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Andrea Lotz

Andrea is a passionate writer who shares everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on April 8, 2021

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

Want to know what Steve Jobs thought was the ultimate key in achieving success?

“Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

And this belief is even more important today than it was years ago. At your fingertips is a literal world of information and entertainment. So, it’s no wonder we all have such wandering minds nowadays.

Thanks to the internet and smartphones, attention is practically a currency we should be more budget-minded about. In fact, a person who can stay focused is not only more likely to get more done but also be more satisfied at the end of the day because of it.

Going further, a person who’s focused will more easily achieve their goals—anything from losing 20 pounds to getting a promotion at work is within the reach of this type of person.

So, in the spirit of that idea, here are 10 ways to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused brain that gets things done.

1. Find Your Totem

Remember the totem in the movie, Inception? It’s an item that reminded people they weren’t in a dream when they touched it, and it was able to keep them grounded in reality.

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You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well. All you’ve to got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.

In the movie, a chess piece and a spinning top were used—both are good ideas. You could also use a picture of your family, a mini trophy, or even wear a ring to focus your mind as well. (In fact, a green lantern ring might be kind of cool for this.)

2. Promise a Reward

Incentives are an obvious way to go. Having gold at the end of any journey makes you want to press forward just for the sweet results. In general, rewards should correlate to the difficulty/length of the work.

For example:

  • Finish a quick house chore = a piece of chocolate
  • Complete an annoying administrative task = 10 minutes of Youtube
  • A successful day of work = a whole movie on Netflix

Pretty simple stuff, right? But you’d be surprised how often you forget to reward yourself for doing solid work on the regular.

3. Make It Stupid Easy for Your Wandering Mind

I don’t know about you, but if I perceive my work to require more effort than I care to use, I’m instantly turned off. This then leads to distraction and procrastination. But you can offset this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.

Case in point, what seems easier: 30 pushups or 3 pushups?

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It’s obvious, but sometimes our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going.

But here’s something cool about this tactic: You can (and most likely will) keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.

4. Empty Your Mind With Journaling

Sometimes, there’s too much stuff floating around in your brain that is making your mind wander. In that case, it can help to spill everything in your head onto a journal to free up some space. You can use a pen and pad for this or something digital like Evernote.

There are two basic ways to go about it:

  1. Freestyle – where you just write whatever randomly flows through your brain without thinking or pausing. This is great if you’ve got a million different ideas racing through your brain.
  2. Focused – where you create prompts or an outline to streamline your thinking and you just respond to the questions or format. This is best when you want to grasp a certain topic.

5. Use the “Just 5 Minutes” Method

Try telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 5 minutes” and then you can stop. You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is lower effort than it really is. After all, 5 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.

The key is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 5 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.

6. Recite a Focus Mantra

I like to think of mantras as a totem you can take with you anywhere you go. They serve the same purpose—reminding you to stay focused—but can be done anywhere and anytime.

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I find the most powerful type of mantra to be based on reality. I learned this approach from Dr. Jon Fader—a performance coach who was on “Good Morning America”—and his book Life as Sport: What Top Athletes Can Teach You about How to Win in Life. He calls this “objective optimism.”

Basically, you create a mantra that’s based on personal success in your life. That way, the mantra isn’t just a fluffy positivity statement, there’s also the weight of real-life success giving it power

Some examples:

  • If you’re struggling to make yourself go to the gym but have technically been there many times already, you could say, “just another day of heading to the gym—easy.”
  • If you’re suffering from impostor-syndrome after accepting a promotion, just say, “I’m here for a reason” to remind yourself that your efforts were recognized by others and are the real deal.
  • If you’re nervous about an upcoming sports competition but have trained diligently for it, you could say, “I’ve done all the work possible” to remind yourself that your earlier efforts have created the best version of you for the event.

As you can see, the most powerful mantras are evidence-based and positive. So, just find proof of relevant success in your life and transform it into a motivating mantra.

7. Use the “Multi-Yawn” Approach

One of the best ways to be distracted is to be tired. And sometimes, you’ll be tired in such a way that you’re “sort of” working but not realize that you’re actually constantly distracted.

If you can notice when you do this, one thing I like to do is crank out as many big, satisfying yawns as possible. Olympic athletes sometimes do this before their big events. It calms them down and helps them perform better in the process. And it works just as well for us regular folks. I find it has a similar effect to taking a good nap (and actually works best in unison), so you can imagine how effective this can be.

8. Find an Easy Win

Nothing feels good like winning. So, it can help to find a few simple tasks you can do with little effort and just get them done immediately. This will create momentum and propel your productivity forward. The feeling of success will lock your focus in on the task at hand and refocus your wandering mind. Use this when you feel “resistance” to getting your work started.

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9. Create a “Wins” List

Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing “wins” list to prove you’re an able person.

Just keep track of all your daily wins—big and small. And whenever your focus starts to wane, give that list a peek and remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.

10. Add Stakes to the Mix

If you were to lose $20 if you failed to complete a task, would you be more focused on completing it? Of course!

Try and find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to things done to be higher than ever before.

For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy their food if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll also mow the lawn if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over. Or you could just use something like Beeminder or TaskRatchet, which actually charges you cash for failing to complete a task or goal on time. (It’s scary but effective)

All are viable methods, so just give one of them a shot.

Who Else Wants More Success?

Of the many methods of winning at life out there, focusing is definitely a top-three contender. You can’t get anything you want in life if you don’t buckle down and get your work done—a wandering mind won’t create success.

But with these 10 focus tips, you’ll be ahead of the competition and be closer to a fitter body, higher income, and a flat-out better life than before.

More Tips on Sharpening Your Focus

Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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