What do you do at the end of your work day when working from home? Do you close up shop and transition to your personal non-work activities? Do you put out a mental “closed for the day” sign and turn off from work mode? It might not be as easy to do as you’d think.
Two of the biggest challenges people who work from home say they face are staying productive and turning off work mode, but realistically, working from home presents myriad challenges to our ability to be happy, comfortable, and productive. That’s readily apparent in Aja Frost’s more than 500 hacks to help with work from home productivity.
With the worldwide pandemic of 2020, many people were sent to work from home who had never worked remotely, and workers and employers together had to quickly transition to this new normal. Productivity hacks for working from home help you do your best work even when you’re not in the office.
You need work from home hacks to maintain your work productivity and keep the sight lines clear between work and your personal life.
Use Your Calendar
Your calendar is your best friend when you work from home. Use Google calendar, Outlook calendar, or any calendar app that you really like for these productivity hacks for working from home. Schedule everything with your calendar app, or if you prefer, go old school and use a paper calendar.
Block out your work time in the calendar, and within your working hours, designate how you’ll spend that time, even breaks and lunch. Seeing your work day mapped out for you helps you mentally keep your day organized and marks clear work start and finish times that make it easy to get into your work day and disengage at quitting time.
Be Strict with Work Time
It’s very tempting when working from home to try to squeeze in household chores or extra exercise time. Don’t let yourself do anything during your work hours at home that you wouldn’t do in the office. Adhere strictly to breaks and lunch times with productivity hacks for working from home with scheduling and calendars.
Don’t give in to things that will eat into your ability to get work done and get the results that are expected from you. Your manager may have some monitoring software or strategies that help you stick to work hours, but if not, post your work hours in your calendar so they stay top of mind.
Related Article: 7 Outlook Productivity Hacks you’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
Keep Track of Time
Avoid wasting time when you work from home by using a time tracking app like the Toggle chrome extension. The habit of tracking your time helps you avoid wasting time and helps you understand which of your work tasks are more difficult or take more time and keep you accountable.
Knowing how you spend your time improves your productivity.
Signs for Work and Home
Another one of the best productivity hacks for working from home is using signs. Set clear visual signs that help you cut off work and transition to your personal life and avoid the temptation of “just getting a little more done” or “putting in a little extra on this project.” It’s natural to want to be a team player and try to excel, but without the benefit of physically going to a workplace outside of home, the lines between work and home life can quickly blur.
The calendar helps you set a mental idea of your work day, but having an actual sign that lets you (and others who may share your home) when you are “open” and “closed” creates a business-like way to set boundaries.
You may want to use an actual “open/closed” sign, or make humorous signs such as “the doctor is in” or “Elvis has left the building” to keep it lighthearted but still be serious about when the work day is over.
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to work on the couch in front of the TV, or at the dining room table, or even outside on the patio. But dedicating specific work place reduces distractions, improves focus, and keeps you organized for the task at hand.
A dedicated space helps you stick to your work routines and get tasks done more quickly and easily. Try to locate your workspace behind a closed door or at least in an area with little foot traffic and in a quiet spot. If you don’t have a room to work in, consider a room divider or screen to separate your space and cut down on visual distractions.
Working from home, you don’t have the same social interactions, physical activity, or visuals that you do when you go to work at an employers’ site. Getting up physically from your work energizes you, giving you some physical activity and a mental refresher to improve your productivity.
Make it a habit to get outside regularly when you work from home. On breaks or lunch, go out the back door for some fresh air. Better yet, take a walk, even if you only have 15 minutes. Sit on the patio in the sun. Walk the dog around the block. Take a quick bike ride.
Don’t Forget to Move
Focusing on work is important, but too much sitting and screen time without breaks isn’t good for anyone. Staying in one place too long is restrictive and can result in eye strain and back pain.
Set an alarm to get up from your chair once an hour, to stand up and stretch or do a little yoga. Take five or ten minutes to stretch your arms and legs and touch your toes, and get a drink of water to stay hydrated.
Focus on the task at hand
Although it can take time and practice to make work, focus on the work and then move on either to a break or the next task. Don’t keep stopping in the middle to do home tasks like throw a load of laundry in the wash or get the mail.
Use your work time for focusing on work and don’t let household distractions lure you away. Focus is a skill, and the more you practice it, the better you will get at it, making your work from home time less stressful and more enjoyable.
Use a No Browsing Rule
We live with many devices for work and fun, and even safety. But working from home presents some different distractions than going out to work. It can be very tempting to linger in social media, watch videos, or check the news.
Eliminate this temptation, and the opportunities to waste time, by using website blocking programs or apps. Buy a website blocking program or use a Chrome extension like StayFocused and ensure you won’t drift off into the internet.
Ditch the PJs and Dress for Work
Avoid the lure of working in your pajamas and make yourself get up and get ready for work the same way you would if you were going to the office. Slippers instead of shoes may be ok, but wash your face, brush your teeth, run a comb through your hair, and get dressed.
You’ll feel prepared for work, and be Zoom-ready in case you are called to a video conference. Getting dressed gives you another mental and visual setup and puts you in the frame of mind for work.
Related Article: Best Planners and Organizers 2021 to Stay Focused & Achieve Goals
Let There Be Light
You may not have as much room to work from home as you would at the office, but you should make sure you have enough good quality light. Sit near a source of natural light if possible, such as a large window. If that’s not possible, perhaps buy a natural light lamp or a light therapy lamp.
Make sure your workspace is well-lighted to avoid eye strain and to improve your mood. You feel better physically and emotionally with the right light. It helps you see well and helps regulate your body clock and circadian rhythms.
Whether you’ve been working from home for years or, like many people, are still adjusting to working from home any of these tips can help you be more productive, create work-life boundaries when working from home, and take time to enjoy life. Try one, two, or all ten and see which ones work for you.
Use productivity hacks to improve your work from home experience and work with better results. Protect your work-life balance with the boundaries that productivity hacks create and maintain, and you’ll enjoy your work much more.