12 Ways to Stay Productive while Working from Home
Need to stay productive while working from home?
Some might think remote work is all goofing around, and they’d be half right.
There’s a good amount of that.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get things done.
Especially without distractions like birthday celebrations and softball signups.
The average person is only productive 2 hours and 53 minutes a day at the office.
Here are some ways to do better, even when no one’s watching.
1. Set your agenda
Before checking email when I wake up, I always set a personal and professional goal.
Personal goals can be:
- Working out
- Taking a power nap
- Doing a chore
- Trying out a new recipe
Professional goals can be:
- Doing a lesson on Khan Academy
- Reading/listening to a chapter of a business book
- Updating your resume/applying to jobs
- Looking for freelancing opportunities on Upwork (disclaimer: I’m not a fan of Upwork’s platform, but it’s the most complete listing of remote opportunities)
- Starting a blog
Make time for these during your day and you’ll be a lot more satisfied.
2. What’s it for?
Think about how you want your day-to-day to look in a few years.
If it’s already perfect, great!
If not, do you want to spend part of your day raising kids? Or, do you want to work from home a few days a week?
The E-myth calls this your primary aim.
Once you have a long-term goal in life, motivation will be replaced by passion.
3. Productivity hacks
Some swear by the Pomodoro Method or try to eat the frog.
These don’t work for me.
I tried them for a week and forgot about them.
I prefer to internalize my work, rather than create a micromanager.
Nothing motivates me more than my own desires.
You can accomplish this by having a vision. For most of my life it was financial independence. Then I realized that I enjoy working, I just wanted to be my own boss. Once I decided the vision for my life, every chore, book I read and task I completed was a joy that got me closer to the life I wanted.
Try to rewire your brain to enjoy the process. Then the frogs start looking like candy.
4. Put things in perspective
Now that you have your vision for how you want your life to be, you can decide how much you need to accomplish at work.
In general, you want to do enough to not get fired, but not so much your boss doesn’t promote you.
There are many factors like work culture and what kind of boss you have that influence how much output you need. 20% more than what’s expected usually worked for me.
Do your assigned tasks well then provide solutions to problems that aren’t yours.
If this isn’t enough, make sure you’re applying to new jobs regularly.
5. Get your time back
You’re constantly training people how to treat you.
If you’re burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to lighten your workload.
Cordon off your time gradually by 20%. At first to catch your breath, then to be more productive.
Be creative with it. Get out of meetings. Push back project deadlines with reasons like complexity or the need for extra focus on quality.
The catch is, your work must improve proportionally, which it should.
Or, you might be under the influence of Parkinson’s Law.
Guard your time like it’s your bank account.
6. Use your surroundings
Isaac Newton brought a prism home during a pandemic and used light streaming into his bedroom to invent a theory for optics.
He also had an apple tree in his yard and we know how that turned out.
You may not be Isaac Newton, but you can use the same principle.
What can make you more productive or creative at home?
For starters, set up your workspace the night before. That way you can hit the ground running.
You can also:
- think of solutions to inconveniences you face
- automate your tasks
- find different uses for household objects
Being able to do these will make working from home more interesting.
7. Give yourself the power to quit
“Procrastination is anxiety’s deadbeat cousin.”– me
It’s hard to get going sometimes, so make a deal with yourself. You’ll start working, but can stop in 5 minutes if you want.
You’ll find that the task is always worse in your head.
8. Get efficient
Kaizen can help you do more in less time. Always look for ways to increase your efficiency. This could be something simple as putting your tools where you can reach them. Or just keeping everything organized so you can find things easily.
Then, you can spend the extra time on your own agenda.
Slow drip your results throughout the day to your boss.
9. Stay on task
There’s something called the cognitive shifting penalty you should avoid. It takes energy to switch gears. Do it enough times and you’re left feeling listless.
If this is hard, try an app.
Same goes for decisions. Make sure anyone you manage phrases their questions in yes or no format. That way you can simply respond with “yes”, “no” or “let’s discuss later” if you need more info.
10. Look away
Get up from the screen at least once an hour to stretch or take a walk. But try not to bring your phone. It’s not easy to decompress if you’re glued to another screen. Ditto for bathroom breaks.
11. Turn off your phone
Your phone can be a great tool or an addiction.
Tell your boss it distracts you if they ask. Try to set up a time to chat during the day and update them on your progress. This is a good time to slow drip those results.
I’ve found that managers gave me more leeway when I handled things.
12. Do what works for you
I don’t mind wearing what I slept in while working, but others might need to suit up to get in the mood.
Some people enjoy coworking spaces. They can provide a sense of community and networking opportunities.
Some people work better in the afternoon, some in the morning. Keep that time sacred and make it count. Do the tasks that require the most creativity and focus during those times with doors closed.
What you do with your time is your business. But investing in your future is always a good idea.
Thanks for reading!
Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.