Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Point2.
Working from home has been a reality for many people for several years now, and while the initial enjoyment may have worn off, there’s still work to be done.
But switching to work mode in the comfort of your home isn’t always easy. From distractions to a lack of an authority figure, it can be challenging to keep productivity levels high.
Fortunately, we’ve come up with the several following ways to increase your productivity while working from home.
1. Build Your Perfect Workspace
Even after working from home for several years, some of us still work in less-than-ideal conditions. Uncomfortable chairs and tables not made for sitting all day can soon cause aches, pains, and other distractions. Meanwhile, constant interruptions from other household members can make it hard to concentrate on the task at hand.
So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to create a proper workspace. If you have a dedicated spare room for a home office, that’s perfect. However, if you’re still working at the dining table, there’s a good chance you don’t have this luxury. But no worries; with a bit of creativity, you can create a functional workspace in a multitude of nooks and crannies around the house.
- Garden shed: With a few minor adjustments, a garden shed can become a comfortable and practical home office. Install adequate lighting, heating/cooling, and a space to work.
- Bedroom: Bedrooms aren’t often in use during the day, making them an excellent place to work, free from distractions and interruptions.
- Garage: Like a shed, a garage can easily be converted into a home office.
- Lounge: It might not sound ideal, but if you can hijack a corner and put up a thick drape to separate yourself from the rest of the room, the lounge can be as good a place as any to work. Wear noise-canceling headphones to enter your world of work.
With a new location, you need only to make it comfortable. An ergonomic office chair can make a huge difference, while a height-adjustable desk can enable you to work in comfort all day.
2. Stick to a Regular Schedule
One of the hardest things about working from home is sticking to a regular schedule. However, if you want to improve your productivity, it’s essential to do so.
So, if you find that you’re working irregular hours and often eating into what should be your free time, it’s time to make a change. The key is to specify and stick to your start and stop times and allow for a few well-earned breaks.
3. Remove Distractions
Procrastination is a genuine problem for many people working from home. It’s all too easy to lose yourself watching videos, scrolling through social media, or reading articles that have nothing to do with work.
With so many things to steal your focus, enforcing a productive working environment can be a real challenge. However, with website blockers, you can deny yourself access to specific sites during work hours or at least limit how much time you can spend on them.
Distractions removed, it should be much easier to get going.
4. Allow Time To Relax
As we’ve seen, it’s crucial to factor breaks into your work schedule. But it’s even more important to take full advantage of these breaks. Get up, leave your desk, and enjoy doing something entirely different. This chance to switch gears can refresh your mind, allowing you to return to your work with vigor.
And don’t forget to enjoy your free time after work. Try calling your workmates to discuss non-work matters or arrange a meet-up with friends. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day while keeping social connections alive.
Finally, if things really aren’t happening, take the morning, or the entire day, off, and perhaps try working in the evening instead. Use the free time to relax and get in a more productive mood.
5. Dress for Work
In many cases, it’s the mental aspects of working from home that can result in reduced productivity. One easy way to “trick” your mind into thinking you’re going to the office is to dress the part.
By wearing what you’d typically wear to the office at home, you’ll feel like you’ve taken steps to start work, putting you in a more productive mindset. Meanwhile, staying in your comfy house clothes will make you more likely to want to relax all day.
6. ‘Commute’ to Work
In the same way that dressing the part can help you get into a working mentality, stepping out the front door and leaving the home for a bit can do wonders for putting you in work mode. Of course, when you work from home, there’s no actual commute, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make time for a short walk each day before you get going.
The fresh air will wake you up, and if you make it a rule that you have to get straight to work once you return, it can be a great way to increase productivity.
7. Sharpen Your Mind With a Cold Shower
Still struggling to focus from time to time? A cold shower can be an excellent remedy for sluggish productivity. Unlike a hot shower that relaxes you, a cold shower can invigorate the mind and body, allowing you to jump back into work mode and face the day’s tasks.
8. Use Deadlines to Your Advantage
This won’t work for everyone, but for some people, leaving a task until the last minute can be the best way to get it done efficiently. So, if you find yourself with what looks like a massive project, break it down into smaller chunks and enforce deadlines for each.
Carry on with other work until your deadlines draw near, then dive in and see how much you can get done when pressed for time.
9. Create Social Pressure
In an office, there usually are people around to keep you on your toes. But when you work from home, there isn’t normally anyone else around to motivate you.
So, try inviting a colleague or two to work at home with you if space allows. You could even make it a regular thing, where one of you hosts the other(s) for certain days of the week and vice versa.
Alternatively, try screen-sharing sessions or time-tracking apps to enable your team lead to monitor your progress. Like exercise, you’ll almost always perform better when someone else is watching, which brings us to our next point.
10. Create Competition
A little healthy competition can be an excellent way to boost your and your colleagues’ productivity. Get in touch with your workmates and see where you’re all at. Perhaps make it a forfeit that the last to finish their tasks has to buy dinner for the others at the end of the week.
If you’re working for yourself and don’t have colleagues, try checking out your competition and seeing what they’re doing. You’ll need to work for it to stay ahead, and checking in on your rivals can be a great way to motivate yourself.