How To Stay Productive When You’re Working From Home

Working from home is the dream, right? You've got cups of tea on tap, candles flickering away, no office politics and background tv. Much calm, much zen. But then the novelty of the snow day mentality wears off and you realise you haven't brushed your hair or conversed with another human IRL for a week.

There are certain rituals that fall by the wayside when your home morphs into a hot desk and you find yourself making all kinds of lifestyle compromises, from neglecting your posture to forgetting to drink water. It happens!

Working solo certainly has its perks but it also has its downfalls and learning to function without the community environment of a shared workplace and the sense of belonging that that provides for us can be a challenge – one that a lot of us have recently found ourselves navigating as a matter of necessity.

To help you make the most of your remote office days now and for the future, we’ve got a few best practises we like to put into place to keep our productivity in check!

Resist the snooze button

Waking up at a consistent time, whether that’s 6, 7 or 8am, not only stabilises your circadian rhythm and improves your sleep health overall, it also establishes a clear morning routine; one that sets you up for a productive day right from the get-go.

Get to know your behaviour

Do you like background tv, Classic FM or total silence? Are you someone who is easily distracted and so has to be stricter with themselves and their time management, or is procrastination a sign you need to take a quick break and make a brew? Finding what works for you is a game of trial and error and we all work in different ways. Suss out what suits you and stick to it.

Prepare yourself to ‘go’ to work

Few of us benefit from rolling out of bed and hopping straight onto a Skype call before we’ve even so much as brushed our teeth. Determine what activities ease you into your working day and prepare your mind for productivity gradually, whether that’s an hour of reading before you open your laptop, listening to a podcast, going for a run, journaling or meditating.

Think of it like a warm-up before cardio – what tools can you rely on to ensure your mind is switched on and ready to give its best performance? By waking up ahead of your working hours and spoiling yourself with a leisurely morning ritual, you’re more likely to feel mentally ready for the demands of the day ahead.

Get dressed

We’re not about to deny you of your comfy loungewear and cosy knits but if you’re wearing pyjamas then you’re likely to stay in a pyjama mindset all day. Never underestimate the power of proper clothes. Have a shower, put on some makeup – if that makes you feel bougie – and enjoy the little things that make you feel awake, energised and mentally sharp.

Be strict with yourself

Get up to stretch your legs regularly, look after your posture, take screen breaks little and often and get outside for your lunch break if possible. You determine your own efficiency and while sitting at your laptop for 8 hours a day without so much as a sip of water or a loo break might sound like you’re slaying the work from home life, it’s not conducive to productivity in the long run and it will come back to bite you on the arse.

Stay hydrated

It’s so easy to forget to drink when you can’t gather around the water cooler and bond over the latest episode of Love Is Blind. Fill up a water bottle and have it within view all day to remind you to stay hydrated.

Never work from your bed

Try to keep your usual work-life boundaries in place. You might not have the luxury of an office space but your bedroom is strictly off-limits, it’s a realm reserved only for R&R, not looming deadlines, word limits and Zoom calls.

Write a realistic to-do list

It’s not a revolutionary idea but it sure will help you to prioritise and manage your time effectively. Break up your tasks into more manageable chunks so you won’t feel overwhelmed and discouraged by an overambitious list. This is about working smart.

Set some ground rules with the other people in your home

Not everyone who works from home does so alone, there are housemates and partners to consider and share your workspace with so setting some clear ground rules makes for a healthy working environment. Appreciate an hourly brew and a 5-minute small talk in the kitchen? Cool. Rather work through your lunchbreak and save the socialising until after 5pm? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Everyone’s jobs have different requirements and schedules so as long as you’re all respectful of one another and transparent about expectations, HR will be happy!

Work out what a day in the office looks like to you

The beauty of working from home is that you get to determine what your working day looks like. If you’re an early bird, waking at 6 and sitting at your desk for 7.30 ready to crack on with a few uninterrupted emails before the rest of the world starts communicating might suit you. Likewise, you might benefit from doing something for YOU before you have to answer to someone else all day, or starting your days slightly later and working into the evening. It’s your call.

Pull up a window seat

If you can, sit in a room with plenty of natural light. There’s nothing inspiring about facing a wall or sitting in a dark room, so do as cats do and follow the sun – it’ll make you happier.

Put your phone on do not disturb

Nothing throws off your workflow quite like opening Instagram every 30 seconds or attempting to keep up with the family WhatsApp, which naturally, is always absolutely popping when you’re at work and in the thick of a deadline. It’s like your sister just KNOWS.

If you’re easily distracted by your phone, close all messenger apps on your laptop and leave your phone in another room.

Get familiar with project management tools

There are a whole variety of project management and task-based communication tools out there to keep your tasks and your team members organised but Trello is one that stands out for its simplicity and efficiency for monitoring tasks on the fly, particularly if you’re working collaboratively with other team members. It’s basically a virtual corkboard.

By keeping all the information you need in one place, it’s easier to keep track and stay up to date with any changes. Whether you’re working as part of a team or just looking for something to collate your upcoming projects and boost your productivity, Trello is a versatile tool that you can use whatever industry you’re in. From editorial calendar planning to freelance assignments and IT support, the possibilities are endless.

Don’t work silly hours

When your workplace and your home blur into one, it’s easy to forget that such a thing as ‘working hours’ exist and before we know it, we’re sat tapping away into the glow of our laptops at 10pm like some kind of fireflies. Without a commute or the shuffle of a colleague’s backpack to signal that it’s the right time to pack up and leave for the day, it’s all too easy to carry on beavering away.

What’s important is that you’re realistic about what you can achieve and recognise what your productivity sweet spot is. You might decide that you’re going to have the morning off and work until 8pm instead, it totally depends on your workload and schedule and who’s to say that will look the same day-to-day. One thing’s for sure, switching off is just as important as switching on, so don’t feel guilty for shutting your laptop at 5pm on the dot and climbing into your PJs. And hey, when that time comes your sofa commute is but a few steps away. Praise be.

We’d love to hear your best practises for working from home!