It can be easy to fall into a slump when home doubles as your office, without any physical or mental separation. Here are 5 ways you can boost your productivity so you can get more done, even in your pajamas.
1. Maintain a routine
Although it’s tempting to sleep in if you don’t have any meetings on the agenda, or to work late into the night to get caught up, keeping a consistent schedule is key to finding work-life balance when working from home.
You probably don’t need to wear a full suit while editing spreadsheets from your couch, but keeping up a regular morning routine of showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and having a bit of a transition buffer between waking up and logging on will help get your mindset ready when it’s time to get to work.
Along with that note, also be sure to pencil in a proper lunch hour (away from your computer!), and a few breaks scattered throughout the day. Go ahead and change the laundry or take the dog out between projects, and it’s absolutely okay to put your work devices away for the evening after you’ve clocked out.
2. Make space
Multi-purpose spaces are great, but do try to have some separation between work and leisure. Claim a territory where you can focus, and bonus points if it’s somewhere other than your bed! This can be challenging when you’re sharing communal living spaces with family members or roommates who are also working or learning remotely, but prioritize finding a space where you can focus and have sole claim of at least 12″ of a flat surface not covered in graham cracker dust.
Once you’ve staked your claim, try gathering all your work-related materials into a basket or your designated zone so everything is ready and within reach when you start your day. Then, before you sign off, spend a few minutes to reset your space so it’s ready for tomorrow. Refill your water bottle, pick up trash, take your dishes to the sink, and file away any loose papers so tomorrow can be a fresh start. And then, WALK AWAY – because the right to clock out is a boundary that should never be crossed, especially while working from home.
3. Stop checking your email
We get it – the unread messages in your inbox are ticking away into the high triple digits, and never seem to slow down! But it is ok to step away so you can get some of your actual work done. Try setting designated times throughout the day dedicated to checking and responding to emails, and then close the tab during head-down working intervals. Most likely, Phil from Accounting can wait a couple of hours for your response without jeopardizing your job or the stability of the company.
4. Make a list
It can be overwhelming when your tasks keep piling up. Grab a sticky note (digital or paper) and write down only the next 5 things you’re going to do. When you’re done, throw it out and plot out the next 5 items. This makes large projects more manageable, and you’ll feel so productive every time you cross off the last item.
If you’re having trouble getting started, pick a small task to do first. Ideally, choose something that you don’t mind doing and that will take less than 15 minutes. Starting out with an easy win is a great way to build up the momentum needed to tackle the bigger stuff after.
5. Give it a break
Did you know that it has been proven that taking some time away from working can actually help you get even more done than powering through? Taking 15 minutes away from your desk will have you feeling refreshed and ready to dive back in, likely leading to better quality of work than when you power through with your nose to the grindstone.
Check out these suggestions to get the most out of your breaks and help you get through the afternoon lull, such as considering a change of scenery. Maybe after lunch, it would be nice to take your laptop to the park or sit on the patio outside the little coffee shop downtown? One of the best perks of working remotely is having the freedom to work from anywhere, so take advantage of it!
Working from home may not always be ideal, but it’s possible to make your space and habits more productive with some accountability and a little imagination. Remember that taking care of yourself is better for your mental health as well as for your productivity, and creating separation between work and leisure in your living space is an essential boundary for maintaining work-life balance throughout the week.