If you’re finding yourself working from home for the first time you might be struggling to stay productive. There definitely was an adjustment period when I started working from home, where I had to figure out how to actually stay organized and get things done! Here are my tops tips for working remotely from home to help you stay on top of your to do list this week!
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Setting Up A Home Office
Before we get started with the tips, setting up a “home office” area is important. You need to create a designated space to work so you can separate your work time from your home time. Having a set space to work from home tells your brain that when you sit down in that area it’s work time.
Make sure you have a comfortable chair and a workspace that is large enough to spread out everything you need. This could be a desk area, your kitchen table, your coffee table – whatever space you can designate to be just for work.
Tip 1 – Set a Schedule
My first tip is to actually create a work from home schedule for yourself. Rolling out of bed and walking straight over to your laptop in your PJ’s is not going to give your brain time to wake up or get prepared to start functioning.
Here’s my daily work from home schedule:
7:30 am: Wake up and get ready for the day. While I don’t straighten my hair or put on makeup, I do the rest of my morning routine – wash my face, brush my teeth, put on actual clothes.
8:00am: Have my desk area set up and be logged into my work systems. Make my coffee!
8:05am: Write out my to-do list for the day. I write mine in priority/chronological order so I can just work down the list.
8:05-10:30am: Get things done! I start at the top of my to do list and work my way down.
10:30am: Take a 5-10 minute break. Make sure to get up and move around a little bit!
10:40-12:30pm: Keep working on that to do list.
12:30-1:00pm: This is usually the time my boyfriend gets home for his lunch break. I usually stop and eat my lunch and take a break this time as well.
1:00-3:00pm: I just keep working down my list.
3:00-3:15pm: Take another break and step away from your computer. Again, make sure you walk and move around a little bit!
3:15-5:00pm: Work work work!
5:00pm: Log out and be done with my work day.
Obviously your schedule could look very different from mine depending on your job duties and how focused you can stay. You might need to take more breaks and most people take a longer lunch break than I do.
I have found this schedule to work really well for me because I can focus hard for a few hours at a time. Taking breaks and making sure to walk around my house gives my brain a little reset every so often and helps me come back to my workspace ready to get things done!
Tip 2 – Get Ready in the Morning
You can see in my schedule above that I get ready every single morning. I highly recommend doing this! This helps your brain have time to wake up before you get started with your work. It also signals to your brain that “oh, we’re getting up and we’re actually doing something today!”
While you don’t have to go full-on glam, I do recommend having a set routine. Wash your face, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed. Whatever makes you feel ready to have a productive day. And if you want to do your hair and put on makeup then go ahead and do that!
I also highly recommend getting dressed. You don’t have to get business casual (unless you want to!), but I would at least change our out of your pajamas. I usually put on jeans or leggings, a tshirt, and a hoodie. I also usually put on shoes because for some reason this always makes me feel like I can be way more productive.
Tip 3 – Write Out Your To Do List
The first thing I do when I sit down to starting working for the day is write out my to do list. I usually have a master list of things I need to do that I add to and cross off as things come up or get done. I work off this list and make my smaller list of just tasks I need to get done today.
Write out your list in the order you want to get things done. This makes it easy to just go down the list without having to stop and regroup about what’s most important. Basically, you’re getting your entire plan for the day out of the way before you start so you have no excuses for getting sidetracked unless something crazy high priority comes up.
Take 5-10 minutes to do this first thing and then don’t make any changes unless absolutely necessary!
Tip 4 – Plan for Regular Breaks
Again, in the schedule above you can see I take several breaks throughout the day. When I’m at home I have to step away and let my brain have a few minutes to regroup. Sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours and not allowing yourself to ever get up is a good way to kill your productivity.
Our brains are not wired to focus constantly for the entire day. Plus, it’s good for you to move around! While you don’t have do a full on exercise routine during your breaks, taking a walk around is a great idea. I work in my basement, so I make sure to go upstairs and check on all my pets. I also usually refill my water bottle and take a look outside.
Schedule in regular breaks and it’ll be a lot easier to get yourself to focus for a few hours instead of half the day!
Tip 5 – Separate Work Time and Home Time
This is the thing I struggled the most with when I first started working from home. It’s so easy to walk through your house and see all the things you need to do and want to do those things instead. Don’t do it!
Designate your normal working hours to be work time. This is part of the reason why setting a schedule is so important. If you don’t separate the two, you will probably find yourself jumping from task to task and avoiding the things you really need to get done but don’t want to do!
Whatever time you decide is the end of your work day, stick to it! Don’t go back and check emails or jump on at 8pm to “just do one quick thing.” That’s a great way to push yourself to burnout. While you may have to work a little bit longer hours to make up for the loss of productivity at home, you don’t want to be pushing crazy hours either.
Tip 6 – Use Block Scheduling to Stay On Task
I have an entire blog post on this topic, but I’ll break down the basics here. I find this method so helpful!
The block scheduling method helps you keep out distractions so you can focus on the task at hand. This will be used when creating that to do list every day!
Basically, the block scheduling method has you “block” periods of time on your schedule to work on a certain task. You cut out all the distractions and you have to work on a certain thing for that block of time.
During this time you’re allowed to ignore everything else – don’t check your email or your teams messages, don’t check your phone, and don’t answer your phone! Turn off notifications for all of these things and let your coworkers know this is your plan. You can put your complete focus on one task and knock it out!
This method really helps get more done in less time because you aren’t getting distracted or pulled in different directions by interruptions!
Tip 7 – Communicate With Others
Taking time to reach out and communicate with my coworkers has also helped me stay more productive. I find that when I can have a quick video meeting or message my team throughout the day about my progress it helps keep me on track.
It can be really easy to feel isolated when you’re working from home and not having physical meetings. Reaching out to coworkers, even if you’re just sending them a quick message to see how things are going, can help you stay connected. It honestly helps me stay motivated when I know there are others on my team that are working on the same projects as me and are counting on me to get my sections done!
I have found all of these tips to be so helpful to keep me on track with my work. Working from home is a major adjustment for most people so remember, it is going to take you some time to find a routine that works well for you. Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you don’t have to get your work done! Find what works for you and you’ll adjust to your new work environment in no time.