Ah, working from home. The delicate dance between never changing out of your pj’s and knocking out your to-do list. There are some days when you are super motivated and crossing out your tasks like a boss, and other days where you *maybe* get a few things done in between procrastinating with household chores that you don’t even want to do.
So what gives?
It’s all about that motivation, baby - oh, and a little bit of self-control, too. We’ve rounded up 5 ways to stay on track and to keep your WFH days insanely productive. Let’s get to it!
1. Create a routine
It sounds easy enough, but when you’re not commuting or going into an office every day - creating a routine can be challenging. Even if your job doesn’t have you doing the same thing every day, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a little bit of habit into your daily routine. It could be as easy as waking up at the same time, taking an early afternoon walk after lunch every day or even booking all of your conference calls or meetings on the same day every week. Because working from home is so flexible, do what works best for you!
THINGS WE LOVE:
Google Calendar: We live and die by our calendars. With everything from appointments and meetings to happy hours and vacations - where would we be without it! Use it to your advantage to time batch your work (see tip 3!) and stay on top of your to-do list.
The Reminder App: An easy trick is to put in your Top 7 to-do’s (in order of priority) each day and focus on the most important things first. Don’t fret if you don’t get to them all - sometimes life happens and you have to roll over things to the next day. BONUS: you can color code it!
2. Set boundaries with yourself (and outside influences)
The freedom of working from home can sometimes be a major case of FOMO. It’s difficult to turn down last minute invites to lunch or the pull of your comfy bed and favorite Netflix show (it’s so close!) This is where major self control comes in. By creating your schedule and routine - hello, step 1! - it will be easier to turn down last minute invitations to focus on the tasks at hand.
THINGS WE LOVE:
Facebook + Instagram’s New Usage Features: It shows you how much time you spend on the app and you can even set a limit for yourself.
Airplane Mode: This might not be feasible for everyone, but if you’re in the zone - turn off your phone. You’ll be amazed at how many times a day you pick up your phone for no reason at all. By switching that one little button, you’ll take back your productivity.
If you don’t need your phone for work, plug it in across the room to keep you from picking it up and mindlessly scrolling.
Limit yourself to a half hour of social media and use it! It’s going to happen eventually, so block off some time to get your Instagram on.
This doesn’t mean you can’t schedule in lunch with friends, a mid-day manicure or a quick yoga class. Working from home can have its advantages to boost productivity if you use them right!
3. Track your time
When working from home, it can be really easy to lose hours and look back like, “where did my entire morning go?” Whether it’s getting distracted by online shopping, cleaning the house or mindlessly staring at your to-do list, sometimes time gets away from us. Parkinson’s Law says that, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” meaning, if you give yourself a day to complete a task, it will take the day - but, if you give yourself 3 hours to complete it, you can usually get it done in that amount of time. That’s why this tip is SO important. Once you know where your time is going, you can adjust to make more productive use of it.
THINGS WE LOVE:
Toggl: Keeping track of your time and hours will help you realize how long you’re actually taking on a project. Plus, it’s kind of like a game - once you set the time, you are in a race against the clock to see how long it *actually* takes you to complete your tasks.
Productivity Planner: Instead of starting your workday immediately overwhelmed at everything you have to do, use a Productivity Planner to identify the most important tasks for the day. Then, track the time you think you will spend on each task versus how much you actually spend. This helps to see just how efficient you’re being (or how distracted you get / how much time you waste).
Time Blocking. Distributing your tasks into blocks of time can be a huge game changer.
Shut it down. Trust us, this is for your own good. Create a hard time every day to close your laptop and enjoy something (anything!) other than work.
Batch your workload. This will save your time AND sanity. Learn how to save time on your social with templates here.
Check in at the end of each week to see what you spent the most time on and see if you can create a more efficient plan for the following week.
4. Your home (office) is where the heart is
When you work from home, it’s a fine line between home life and work life. By creating a space to work that is truly yours, you will automatically feel more inclined to tackle your tasks head on. If you can, position your home office in a separate room or section of your house so that you can’t see the kitchen (aka dirty dishes) or hear your bed calling your name. Decorate to your heart’s desire and make sure that you have everything you need so you aren’t always jumping up looking for a pen, batteries, tissues, phone charger, etc.
THINGS WE LOVE:
Office Chair: If you’re sitting at your desk all day, it better be comfortable - amirite?
Office Desk Pad: Turn any old desk into your dream desk with a colorful pad that gives you space to do ALL the things.
Just because you have a home office doesn’t mean you’re chained to it. Go to a local coffee shop or co-working space to switch it up.
The housework can wait. During your self-prescribed work hours, try your best to keep household tasks like dishes, laundry and dusting (oh my!) out of your mind.
5. Give yourself a break
Because you’re essentially not clocking in and out doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a break! Working from home can be challenging and it’s certainly not for everyone. Don’t beat yourself up if you had an off day or didn’t get everything done. The best part about working from home is the flexibility - so be flexible with yourself, too. Take the time to log off, eat your lunch or hop into a yoga class without feeling guilty about your workload. It will get done, we promise.
THINGS WE LOVE:
Fitness App: Weather it’s FitBit, your apple watch or another fitness tracker, set a goal to get you up from your desk and get moving!
Portable Coffee Machine: You may not have time to run to your local coffee shop, but this little baby will bring the coffee shop right to you. Make a cup of joe and sip it slow when you know you’re going to hit your mid-afternoon slump to keep the motivation going.
Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Seriously. We know, it’s so hard to break this habit, but try your best!
If you’re feeling stuck, take a walk around the block to get those creative juices flowing.
Keep something you love at your desk. Maybe it’s your favorite lotion, a photo of your family or your favorite snack. Whatever it is, keep it close by to keep you going!
What are your favorite work from home tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Jordan Strohl is writer, social media consultant and the digital content manager for Small Talk Social. Focusing on millennial targeted brands and websites, Jordan has spearheaded initiatives to improve visuals and maximize audiences through the power of social media. She’s also obsessed with matcha tea, her puppy, Piper, and figuring out the ending to crime shows she’s already seen.
Follow her daily adventures on Instagram here.