Our last post covered some of the pros and cons of working from home. Today we’re going to go through some tips for being productive when you do work from home. While there are similarities to productivity in a traditional office environment, working from home has some unique challenges to overcome.

Get the Tools of the Trade

Set yourself up to succeed. Go get yourself some office supplies, a comfortable chair, an actual desk, a good internet connection, headphones, etc. Make sure your space is outfitted with the materials you need to get stuff done. If your job is providing you with a computer, make time to get software updates and really take care of it so that you’re not left up a creek without a paddle.

Stay In Touch

Make sure you have the resources you need to stay up to date with your team back at the office. Is there a chat software you need? Do you have the direct phone numbers of your coworkers? Develop a strong, communicative relationship with your manager. Communicate to your manager or team when you are or aren’t going to be available if it’s different than the usual office schedule.

Plan Like You Mean It

Take your planning further than just creating a to-do list. Create a plan for your whole week, when you’ll accomplish work tasks and daily-life items, then STICK TO IT. Allow your self a bit of flexibility and roll unfinished tasks into the next day if necessary, but try to create a solid plan and follow through on it.

Some tips:

  • Find an awesome planner or calendar tool to keep with you at all times
  • Make your to-do list
  • Note any social commitments, appointments, and work related meetings
  • Plan large chunks of time for more involved tasks and put them on your calendar
  • Schedule other events into your week that will help your focus: chores, exercise, meal preparation

Figure Out What Works for YOU

You’re an individual, so spend some time figuring out what works best for your brain and natural tendencies. If you’re a morning person, get started earlier. If your brain doesn’t function well before 10am, maybe you should get your workout in before you start working. Maybe you need short 5 minute breaks every hour, maybe you need a long break in the middle of the day.

If you have the flexibility to make your schedule how you want it, put some time behind figuring out when you’re able to work most efficiently. Write down trends you notice, test out a few different structures, and pick a favorite.

Take Field Trips

Try not to stay cooped up in your home office all day every day. Build human interaction into your day, every day. Work from the local library or a coffee shop once or twice a week. Leave the house and walk your dog after lunch, go get a smoothie, plan a lunch meeting with a colleague, whatever it takes. Make sure you leave the house and/or interact with another human being every day so that you don’t burn out or get cabin fever.

Change Out of Your Pajamas

Getting ready for the day can jump-start your brain in the morning. Even if you can’t give up your flannel pants just yet, try to develop a morning routine that will tell your brain and body it’s time to get to work. Work out, shower, brush your teeth, turn on some tunes you can sing along with, make breakfast, brew some coffee. Even if you’re not a morning person, you can benefit from a morning routine.

Fuel the Machine

One of the best parts about working from home is having access to your own kitchen. Stock your fridge and cabinets with healthy snacks and ingredients that will keep you free from the dreaded brain-fog. Keep lots of fruits and vegetables on hand, find some favorite recipes that won’t put you into a food coma after lunch, and stay hydrated.

Set Boundaries

If you’re getting calls at all hours of the night, you’re more likely to burn out. If possible, set up an out-of-office time where you can completely disconnect from work. Having a set time to decompress and not worry about work will refresh your mind and help you be more productive when you are on the clock.