Productivity Tips: How to Work from Home Productively
I started working from home in an online tutoring role right after graduate school in 2009. While I was missing teaching in the classroom and interacting with colleagues and students, the benefits of working from home were immediately apparent to me. The extra time I gained went into important professional development projects that materialized above my expectations 5+ years later. Many of you reading this during or after COVID-19 may have started working from home recently, as a response to the pandemic. How can you best adjust? Here are 10 ideas based on my 10 years’ experience:
1. Organize a dedicated work area and arrange it for your best productivity.
2. Declutter the desk at the end of every day and prepare it for the next day.
3. On your desk, keep a notebook or a digital tool where you write down action items for each day and/or for the whole week. Mark the tasks completed. Review your list at the end of each day.
4. Take a moment every morning to be in a quiet place, ground yourself, and prepare for work. If you used to enjoy your commute to work, try taking a short walk in the area to energize your mind. Perhaps you will replace your morning run with a routine of indoor exercises. Whatever it is, do not immediately sit down to work in the morning. Instead, frame the workday with morning and evening rituals.
5. Depending on the nature of your work, you may still be expected to dress more formally for some video conferences. Instead of dressing partially (a formal top and informal pants), dress comfortably enough to feel natural and look presentable if you need to appear on video.
While you work
6. Take breaks during the day according to the system that you like best to improve concentration. Perhaps you prefer to work in blocks of 2 hours with 20-minute breaks in-between? Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique? Experiment with this notion until you find a way that works best for you.
7. You may also consider adding short intervals of meditation during the day to increase your productivity and focus.
8. Take a full hour for lunch. Prepare a good meal and eat without the rush.
9. Depending on your environment and who you live with, you may want to let them know about your work routine (when it is OK to talk to you, when you will normally come out for lunch or finish work, etc.). To minimize noise, try ear-plugs or noise-canceling headphones.
10. When wrapping up your day, have a routine of planning your next steps – both work and leisure. You need something to look forward to in both of these aspects. Write down your action items, deadlines, meeting times, and main ideas to return to the next day. Identify what you will do for leisure after each workday (a walk outside, a short workout at home, calls with family and friends, entertainment indoors, or quiet reading time). Once you finish work, avoid checking email on your phone or computer, unless an urgent project is underway.
A silver lining: Depending on your situation, you may already be enjoying the benefits of working from home. Perhaps it is taking you longer to start appreciating them? If so, make a list of all such benefits and quantify some of them, like the number of hours you save per week on commute or the dollar value of your commute. Brainstorm what you would like to do with that time and money in ways that benefit your health, work, professional development, and/or family. Act on these goals; reaching them will contribute to your motivation.
About the author:
Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a professional resume writer with a background in content writing, university teaching, and IT staffing. She is a member of Editors Canada and Career Professionals of Canada. For more information, please visit https://tm-editorial.com/about/ and contact her to schedule a free introductory consultation.