Working from home sounds perfect, right?
While I’ve been working remotely for the last few years, I appreciate that this kind of lifestyle might be a bit challenging for some people. It requires self-discipline and good organisation skills, and the lack of social contact can take its toll on some people.
If you want to learn how to work from home efficiently, I’m here to help. In this post, I share my top tips for staying productive (and sane!) while working from home.
1. Wake up early
Since you no longer need to get on a bus or spend an hour in traffic, you might be looking forward to getting an extra hour of sleep every morning. However, I think the worst thing you can do when you work from home is get out of bed late.
Treat your day like any normal ‘working day’ and wake up at a reasonable hour. You don’t have to sit at your desk straightaway. Instead, use that hour you would normally spend commuting to work on some exercise, a quiet coffee outdoors, or a nice long shower.
An early and productive morning can make you feel all pumped up and keep you focused for the rest of the day.
2. Set a schedule & stick to it
If you’ve just started working from home, it’s good to jot down a work schedule. You may now have more flexibility with the way you structure your work day, but you may also be prone to more distractions.
Organise your day in a way that works for you. While many people are more productive in the morning, others work better in the evening. During your first week working from home, try to move your tasks around and experiment with different schedules until you find one that you are happy with.
Once you find the right schedule, stick to it. However, it’s good to introduce some changes once in a while, so do allow for some flexibility.
3. Wear nice, comfy clothes (no PJs!)
One of the great things about working from home is that you can basically wear whatever you want! In fact, after a few days you may discover that you have inadvertently created your own ‘work from home’ uniform.
While I love wearing comfy leggings and cosy jumpers while working from home, I find that putting on the occasional nice shirt (or jeans!) helps me get into ‘work mode’ more enthusiastically than usual.
Avoid working in your PJs. While it may be the comfiest thing in your wardrobe, working in the same outfit you would normally wear for bed can make you feel sluggish and hinder productivity.
4. Keep your work space tidy
Minimise your distractions by keeping your work space tidy. Have only the things you need on your desk (although I do keep a toy hamster on mine). I find that a tidy and bright work space helps me focus and work better.
While not everyone is lucky enough to have a spacious office and a window with a view, there are some small things you can do to make your work space nicer and cosier. For instance, put a nice picture on your wall or desk – just something to look at when you need to think.
5. Take short, frequent breaks
Working from home also allows you to take frequent breaks without having to worry about possible complaints from your boss or colleagues. Get up and stretch your legs for around 5-10 minutes every hour. Check your mail, make a hot drink, or just stretch your legs.
Another great thing about working from home is that you are not bound to fixed lunch hours. For some people, a 1.5-hour lunch break at the office can feel a bit long and draining. You can now have a shorter lunch break and therefore a shorter work day, or you can take more frequent breaks instead to help keep your mind fresh and alert.
6. Keep a healthy snack on your desk
It’s normal to feel more peckish than usual when you start working from home. Being in a more comfortable and relaxing environment might increase your appetite. Plus, it’s hard to ignore a well-stocked fridge.
A good way to curb your hunger is to snack on healthy foods that are high in protein and fibre. These include unsalted nuts (especially almonds and Brasil nuts), cereal bars, dried fruit and vegetable crisps, all of which are grease-free and give you a good energy boost.
7. Join a fitness class
While working from home has its perks, there is also a big downside – lack of face-to-face communication. Many of us end up spending almost an entire day on our own, resulting in a feeling of loneliness.
For the sake of my sanity, I started taking Zumba classes. Joining a fitness class is a great way to meet people while staying in shape.
Prefer to exercise in the privacy of your own home? Yoga Download offers a variety of online fitness classes for all levels and purposes.
8. Prepare a to-do list from the night before
One of my top tips for using your time wisely when working from home is to prepare a list of tasks in advance. Spend 10 minutes every evening preparing a to-do list for the following day. Or you could prepare a weekly to-do list every Sunday.
Having a daily or weekly to-do list helps you keep track of your progress, while starting the day (or the week) with a clear plan.
9. Have a go-to cafe
While having a designated work space at home can boost your productivity (unlike working from bed), some people might also feel comfortable working from cafes. In fact, popping out once a week or so to get some work done in different surroundings might be good for you.
Choose a nice, cosy cafe with good wifi (and coffee), and try to go there at least once a week. This also helps combat the sense of loneliness and isolation that comes with working from home.
10. Check in with your colleagues and friends
Whether you’re working from home independently or as part of a team, it’s good to keep regular contact with colleagues or friends. Try to check in with your colleagues every day, perhaps during your lunch break or in the evening. This is a great way to keep each other motivated.
If you don’t have any colleagues to discuss work-related issues with, it’s good to have a go-to friend or family member for opinions and ideas. When feeling stressed out or stuck for ideas, a conversation with a friend can help boost your morale and get you back on track.
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