Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to improve your productivity working from home probably didn’t give you any sleepless nights.
But, as almost all things have been turned on their head, working from home suddenly became the new reality for most of us.
I think it’s safe to say that we weren’t prepared for such a big change!
In this article I will discuss why productivity is important and give the top tips on how to be more productive when working from home.
Whether you’re an experienced home worker or a shellshocked newbie, this valuable advice will change the game and make adjusting to the ‘new normal’ feel much easier.
Why Working Productively is So Important
Productivity skills are incredibly valuable not because it means you can churn out work at a rapid pace, but because it means you are using your time effectively.
As Benjamin Franklin simply put it, “lost time is never found again.”
If you’re seeking advice on productivity improvement so that you can run faster and for longer on the hamster wheel of endless work deadlines, then I’m afraid to say that you’re missing the point.
Productivity is a means to an end to ensure that you work effectively and still have time for the things which give your life joy and fulfilment.
Even if you love your job, it is still important to prioritize productivity.
You will then have time and can give your undivided attention to other, equally important things in your life, such as your family, friends and hobbies.
Now that you are working from home and the normal hours of 9 to 5 are out the window, working productively is more important than ever before.
There are tempting distractions which you don’t find in the office, such as a big pile of laundry, cuddly pets, Netflix and a fridge full of tasty food.
Not to mention our most beloved distraction of all; kids.
On the flipside, without the office hours in place, homeworkers usually work much longer hours than those working in an office.
The trick is to find the right balance.
I am providing you with the best productivity tips so that you can balance work and family life without feeling overwhelmed during this stressful time.
Always Remember to Be Realistic and Kind to Yourself
Before we dive into the productivity tips, it’s important to remember that the world is going through a challenging and uncertain time.
There is no such thing as the perfect way to get through each day.
What works on one day may not work the next, and that’s completely okay!
You can apply all of the tips below and still have days where you don’t tick off everything on your to-do list.
When you can accept the reality that the situation is going to be a bit messy and you can be kind to yourself throughout the process, then you’ll feel less stressed and much calmer.
9 Tips to Increase Your Productivity Working from Home
1. A Morning Routine is Essential
Having a head start to the day has never been more important.
If you wake up just half an hour earlier than usual, you will start the day on your own terms.
Use this time for some self-care before your day begins and your attention goes to work, house chores and family.
It can be as simple as having a cup of tea and enjoying the peace and quiet of the early morning.
It’s also crucial that you get dressed and ready for the day as you would on a normal day.
You don’t have to wear a suit, but make sure you’re in something a little more formal than your favourite pyjamas.
This will get your mind in the right place so that it can tackle the day and anything that comes your way.
2. Find a Dedicated Workspace
As tempting as it may be to work in bed, on the couch or on the kitchen counter, you’ll be far more productive when you have a spot in your home which is entirely dedicated to work.
If you do not have a home office or a spare room, then find a spot in a corner where you are out of the way of passing traffic and less likely to be disturbed.
Ideally, you want to be able to close a door and stay out of sight from the rest of the home.
There are two reasons for having a specific workspace.
The first is that having a dedicated work space signals to the brain that it’s time to focus as soon as you enter that space.
The same way your brain prepares to get into work mode when you walk through the door of the office building.
The second reason is so that when work time is up, you can leave that area and take your mind off work – out of sight, out of mind.
The gift and curse of home-working is that whilst you can work whenever you please — sometimes we don’t know when to stop.
3. Create a Daily Family Schedule
Having a schedule is the best way to create structure in your day.
Especially if you have young kids; organisation is key.
Include meal times, activities, homework, nap time, exercise, movies – everything!
I recommend creating the schedule the night before so that the kids know what is planned for the day when they wake up.
On that note, it’s also best practice to make sure that everything is prepared the night before, such as printouts for homework or crafts for activities.
The next step is to create your own work schedule based on the family schedule.
You will need to figure out when you must be with the kids and when you can leave them to get on by themselves.
The final step is to inform your boss and colleagues of your work hours so that they are aware of your availability.
Remember to be realistic and accept that things may not always go according to plan.
Flexibility and patience are your friends!
4. Make a Practical To-Do List
This might seem obvious, but the truth is that most of us struggle to make concise lists which prioritize what’s actually important.
Instead, we tend to create a long list of all the things we need and want to do and thereby add to our own stress.
Again, the trick is to be realistic.
Be as ruthless as possible when making your to-do list and only focus on what is essential.
Remembering that you need to be flexible, it’s a good idea to write out weekly goals as opposed to daily ones.
This way you’re less likely to beat yourself up if you don’t get to all the work you had hoped to in one day.
5. Nap Time is Go Time!
Now that you have worked out a personal schedule and have an air-tight to-do list, you can match the intensity of your work to the likelihood of being disturbed by the family.
So, if your kids are at the age when they take naps, use this time to work on the items which require your full focus.
Or, if they’re a bit older, then put on an absorbing movie that will give you an hour and a half of uninterrupted time to be super productive.
Waking up earlier to get in a couple of hours before getting the kids sorted with breakfast and starting their day is also a top tip.
Similarly, get in another couple of hours once they have gone to bed in the evening.
Use these times as power hours to get through the more demanding work.
And then you can spend time with your kids during the day and attend to work, such as emails, where it’s okay to be interrupted.
It is also good to give your kids your undivided attention for periods of time throughout the day.
This is great because you get to spend proper time with them, but it will also mean that you are less likely to be interrupted during your allocated work times.
6. Work in Short, Concentrated Bursts
Whether you have kids or not, this is the ultimate way to increase productivity working from home.
I advise using the Pomodoro Technique, where you focus on a task for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break.
After 4 of these sessions, you take a 15 – 20-minute break.
The idea is to be completely focused on one task for a reasonably short amount of time.
This feels far more achievable and is also a fantastic way of preventing you from trying to multitask (which, combined with over-using Social Media, is a productivity thief — except if you’re in network marketing, as that is where all the engagement happens!)
And if you really want to see productivity growth, then start with the tasks you dread the most first.
Known as the Eat the Frog technique, getting the hardest thing done before moving on to anything else sets you up to win for the rest of the day and gets you one step closer to achieving your goals.
7. Get the Kids Involved
If your kids are a little bit older, then take the time to share your schedule with them and explain which times are busy for you and which times they can spend with you.
Of course, you can offer incentives for allowing you some uninterrupted time and provide them with some exciting activities that you don’t need to oversee.
Here are some wonderful activity suggestions for all ages, including free online sources.
You can also allow them to work next to you when you’re attending to the tasks which can be interrupted.
It’s important to remember that your kids may be more independent than you realize.
At school they are given work to do on their own and generally don’t have the teacher right next to them all day.
While they may be very excited to be spending this extra time with you, it’s also okay to encourage them to do things without your input.
8. Call in the Troops
If you have a partner, then it goes without saying that you should take it in turns to prepare meals and oversee activities with the kids.
If this is not an option, then ask your friends and family if they can have a 20-minute Zoom session where they can read or do any kind of activity to keep the kids occupied.
Not only is this a fantastic way of keeping in touch with our loved ones during times of social distancing, but it’s also a great strategy if any work emergency comes up.
If an emergency phone call comes through or you need to participate in a meeting which cannot be scheduled for another time, you know you have someone you can rely on.
Don’t forget to lock the door and to mute your mic when you’re not speaking!
9. Get Plenty of Fresh Air
While this is a great way to prevent cabin fever from kicking in, it’s also fantastic for improving productivity working from home in general.
Taking breaks is a vital part of working effectively and exercise is the ideal way to clear your head.
Best case scenario is to go for a walk in the morning and again in the afternoon.
This will keep you energised and ensure that your mind is refreshed.
Ready to Rock that Productivity to the Next Level?
The journey of adapting to our ‘new normal’ during the pandemic has been a bit of a roller-coaster.
Remember to give yourself credit for making it this far!
Working from home is a big shift, but learning to increase your productivity is going to make your life much less stressful.
I hope that you have found this information valuable and that you will be able to put these tips to use.
I’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments below and feel free to ask me any questions you may have around increasing your productivity working from home.
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