Tips on how to be productive when working from home

There’s a lot of information online about the software you can use to work from home like video conferencing tools and chatbots, calendar and scheduling tools, workspaces and document collaboration. However, what is often missed is the non-technical element that’s probably more important than having the right tools: self-discipline. This is the ability to motivate yourself, to stay on track and avoid distractions, to see tasks through to completion, and to get the job done. Self-discipline is challenging, especially if you’ve got young noisy children in the house, or you’re feeling anxious about what’s happening in the world and having trouble concentrating, or you’re just not used to doing work in the home environment.

Here are my tips on how to overcome these challenges.

  1. Maintain a regular routine
    If you normally start work at 8:30am and finish at 5pm then keep up the routine. Don’t slip into sleeping-in and starting work at 10am or 11am.
  2. Have a break for lunch
    If you normally have lunch at around 12 or 1pm when you’re at work then continue doing that. Make sure you have lunch and take regular breaks to keep as much separation as possible between work time and leisure time.
  3. Continue with all your meetings
    If you normally meet with a colleague once a week on a Monday then continue having the meeting online. This is an essential part of working from home in my opinion because it’s this sort of communication that’s motivating, solves problems, provides social contact, and ensures everyone is going in the same direction.
  4. Set up a comfortable space to work
    Not everyone has access to a room in their home they can use as an office but it’s still important to create a “work space” so that when you leave that space you feel like you’re having a break or have finished for the day. It may just be half of the dining room table or a desk in the lounge room but whatever it is, make sure the area is clear of all non-work stuff and that you have a comfortable chair. Even better than a comfy chair is a place you can stand and work – an option here could be a shelf on a tall bookcase. Whatever it is, make it your workspace.
  5. If you have trouble focussing on tasks then it can help to set up a to-do list for yourself each day. In the morning, write up what you plan to do and then tick off items as you complete them.

If you set up good habits when you first start working from home then you’ll be more productive and feel a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.