Working in an office has its perks – but it also has plenty of drawbacks. From long commutes to crowded workspaces to on-the-job distractions, working in an office environment can leave many people longing to work from home. Fortunately, thanks to technology, working from home is becoming a possibility for increasingly more jobs.
But working from home can be more difficult than it seems. Sure, you get to work right in the comfort of your home. Yet trying to sit down, focus, and be productive at your job can be an entirely new challenge. Your home is filled with tempting distractions, so how can you ensure you’re still productive when working at home?
Here are four tips to help you increase your productivity, whether you’re working in your own home office or right from your couch.
1. Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
When you head into work at your office, you have a designated desk and area in which to work. You sit down at that space when you start your day, and you physically leave that space when you’re finished working.
But when you work from home, you don’t always have the luxury of that same special space. You can work anywhere – from your couch, your kitchen table, even your bed. And working around the house in spaces where you typically relax can completely throw off your ability to focus and get tasks accomplished.
So, make sure to set up a dedicated workspace. This will help you physically remember that it’s time to focus on work; when you enter that space, you need to block out distractions and set boundaries¹.
Your home workspace can be anything that works for you. If you have a home office, you can enter that room when it’s time to work. If you prefer to work at a standing desk, your kitchen table, or in a certain chair, go for it. Just make sure you designate that space as your workspace, which will make it a dedicated area that’s only for quiet and productivity.
2. Practice a Daily “Getting Ready” Routine
One of the aspects of working from home that’s exciting is your attire. When you work from home, there’s no need to get dressed up! In fact, you can roll out of bed and start your workday in your pajamas if you really want.
However, working from home doesn’t exactly mean you get to lounge around the house all day doing whatever you want. And for some people, deciding not to get dressed each morning causes a loss of motivation and a lack of productivity.
When you work from home, you lose your traditional morning routine. You don’t shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head out the door in the same way. So, to signal your brain and body that it’s time for work, you have to create a new morning routine.
Setting a morning routine in place while working at home can be powerful for your productivity, according to PC Mag². A routine guides you and helps indicate that it’s time to start working, not relaxing³. Maybe you make a cup of coffee and enjoy breakfast after waking up. Or you might change out of your pajamas into actual clothes. Perhaps you go for a jog each morning and then sit down to work.
You can create any routine that works for you; it’s just important to stick to it. When your daily workday alarm goes off, follow that routine – and you’ll be ready to sit down, awake and focused, at your workspace.
3. Stick to a Schedule
A traditional work life comes with a pretty set schedule: wake up at the same time, commute to work at the same time, and begin work at the same time. While you’re in the office, you take lunch and your breaks at set times, and your workday ends at a specific time.
When you work from home, all of that structure and routine disappears. Suddenly, there are few “rules” – you can wake up later, work longer hours, and eliminate a commute completely. But while all that freedom can be nice for some people, it can throw others into a funk. It can make workdays stretch on well past eight hours. It can make you lose track of time and forget about lunch or the tasks before you.
That’s why it’s a good idea to set a schedule when you work from home. You should stick to that schedule just like you would if you were working in an office. As PC Mag notes, a schedule gives remote workers a better work-life balance because it establishes clear guidelines for when you need to work and when you need to call it day⁴.
And a schedule also ensures you’re taking breaks and eating meals. Pretend you’re working in the office and set up office hours. Begin your day at the same time each morning, and take lunch at the same time you would if you were in an office. Don’t forget to “clock out” and leave your home workspace at the same time each day, too.
4. Give Yourself a Break
In addition to keeping a set work schedule when you’re working remotely, it’s important to remember to take breaks.
When you work from home, it might feel like you don’t really need a break. After all, you’re already at home and you’re (maybe) already relaxed. And breaks can stretch out your workload, causing you to spend more time working.
But taking breaks throughout the day is important for your productivity. As Success.com reports, breaks actually help you stay on track while you’re working, meaning they help you focus and accomplish more⁵. Taking a break can also help you reset and refresh your mind – you can step away, go for a walk, or rest your eyes. When you return, you can look at your work in new, clear-headed ways.
And you shouldn’t feel bad about taking breaks. Remember, the standard for U.S. full-time employees is two 15-minute breaks during the workday⁶. Don’t forget to take those breaks, just like you would if you weren’t working from home.
When you follow these tips, you can help yourself be as productive at home as you would be at the office. Working remotely doesn’t have to be a challenge – you might find that you can get even more done in your new, familiar environment. You just need to set yourself up for success with the right habits and the right tips.