“Work from home? I hate it!”
For many people, working from home during the pandemic (or when they first go freelance) is a right ball-ache. And I’ve been asked a few times on LinkedIn:
“How do you do it? It’s hard. I can’t concentrate. And I can’t get stuff done.“
But before I delve into my tips, I want to make things clear:
Being unmotivated and getting distracted is normal.
Not a day goes by when I’m not piss-arsing around.
If I’m not throwing in a load of washing when I have work to do, I’ll be looking out of the window for 15-minutes at a tree. So, if this sounds like you too, and it’s making you pull your hair out, here are six tips on how to work from home more productively.
How to stay productive when you work from home
One. Buy a diary and plan your day
You might feel like this is a waste of time, but it isn’t.
Planning your day gives you structure, something you lose when you step outside of the office environment. If you’ve been working from home a while and you feel your day is a shapeless mess, a diary gives you the chance to write down what you need to do and when.
You’ll never worry about what you need to do on a Thursday ever again because you’ll have it written down way in advance
A Day-a-page diary is the best, and you can pick them up dead cheap too: Buy a Day-a-page diary.
Two. Have a daily ‘to-do’ tick list
Haven’t you just done that in your diary?
No, you’ll probably use that to write in all your work-related stuff. But faffing around can actually make you more productive. So, have a writing pad nearby to jot down everything you want to do that day.
Well, maybe don’t write down your toilet breaks, but include stuff like:
- Put in a load of washing
- Make a brew at 11 am
- Take 1-hour for lunch
- Watch Cobra Kai on Netflix during lunch
Work and faff related – it all goes on your list.
Then, tick them off.
It’s amazing how ticking off 10 things on your list makes you feel accomplished. So, the next day, you add more. And the next, a few more. Before you know it, you’re ticking 30 off a day, feeling productive and your work hasn’t suffered because you’re running on a tick-list high.
I’m not taking the piss either, try it and release those feel-good endorphins.
Three. Block social media or leave your mobile in another room (if you can)
Social media is the number one cause of faffing.
As soon as your mind wanders, you’ll click on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. without even realising.
So, block websites and apps.
Easy, this article lists a few for you to consider.
Honestly, all your missing is… well… nothing.
How often does somebody really post something you absolutely need to read right there and then?
We’re all addicted to checking social media, and it’s 99% a waste of time. So, block the bastards during your workday and, after a few days, you’ll come through the withdrawal and stop thinking about checking it.
Or, if you don’t need your mobile for work, leave it in a different room.
Four. Get dressed
Honestly, put some proper clothes on.
You don’t have to wear a full suit, but if it helps you get into ‘work mode’ put a shirt and work trousers on. Whatever you’re comfortable in, wear.
But don’t stay in your pyjamas.
You need to feel like you’re ready to work, wearing slippers and a dressing gown isn’t going to get you in the right frame of mind.
Five. Define your workspace and hours
If you’re on the clock with work, that’s a given. But if you’re not, set yourself a defined workday.
That means, pick a room and make that your work area.
And, when you finish, and this is really important:
Take your laptop into a different room and put it away.
Stick it in a wardrobe. Shove it under a bunch of towels in the airing cupboard.
Anywhere that is a faff for you to take out again and do an extra bit of work. You won’t switch off if your laptop is in view. It’s crucial to separate your work from your home life.
Six. Go for a walk before and after work.
What happens when you don’t work from home? You commute – so you need to get out and go for a walk twice a day.
By walking before you start and when you finish, you’re giving your day a beginning, a middle and an end.
Once you leave your home for a little walk, it’s like leaving your normal place of business. And when you get back, your mind is clear and you’re no longer thinking about emailing that spreadsheet to Norman in accounts.
You wouldn’t give it another thought when you normally leave work, so creating a ‘commute’ will do the same thing.
And that’s it.
Incorporate these six tips and not only will you be more productive, but you’ll add some much-needed structure to your day.
But what if you love working from home?
Not everyone is struggling or hating rolling out of bed and straight into work. So, if you’re not missing the office politics, my article, Shit I Don’t Miss About Working In An Office, might resonate with you – and give you a few chuckles into the bargain.
Until next time,