The struggle is real. We’re facing weird and scary times right now. A lot of public spaces are closing down and people are being forced to work from home. I’ve been working from home for more than five years now and I love it. But I know that’s is not the case for everybody.
So, after receiving some questions about that on Instagram, I decided to share with you my tips on being productive while working from home. Because, let’s clear this out: being productive while working from home is different from working from home. And I’ve learned a lot in these last 5 five years.
You need space
For me this is the most important tip of all: you need a space to work. And more than that, you need to respect it.
If you’re just improvising to work some days from home, it’s ok to work from anywhere in your house and accept you won’t be as productive as at the office. But if you’re planning to work for a long period or need to be highly productive you have to follow this rule:
There are spaces to relax in your home and there are spaces to work. Never mix them!
You need to have a comfortable desk with a comfortable chair and everything you need to work properly. And you have to see that space as your work space. Make up your mind you’ll use that space only to work and avoid entering it on your spare times. I rarely enter my home office on weekends, for example.
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The contrary is important too. I never work from my living room or bedroom. This can sound weird but it’s very simple: could you imagine living at the same place you work? If you had to stare at your computer and all the work paper on your desk waiting for you all weekend long? You’d start to hate your home!
So, my home is my home, my office is my office. Period.
Prepare your working mood
It can be tricky but you have to convince your brain you’re working. My way of doing that is getting dressed everyday for work, including make up. Of course I don’t dress formally or put heavy make up on, but pijamas are not allowed in my office.
Maybe this rule doesn’t apply to you but you have to find a way to feel like you’re in a working environment. For example, the tv is always off, as it would be in any office space.
Discipline is crucial
I’ve never had a problem with discipline, I actually like structured time. But I know that’s not the case for everybody.
You have to try really hard to follow a calendar, especially if, like me, you don’t have a boss to make you accountable. The best way is to have a list of everything you have to do during your routine and assign time slots for those on your calendar.
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The good news is you can choose your time slots! I, for example, work better in the mornings, so I start to work early, around 7 am. I work until 1pm and take a break to lunch. I take a full one hour and besides eating, I watch some Netflix shows.
I usually come back to my office and work until around 4pm. On Fridays and days I’ve been super productive I don’t “come back from lunch”. Don’t forget the first rule here: I never have lunch in my office or open my computer in the living room.
Everybody must understand it
Maybe you don’t have this problem if you’ll be working from home only because of the Corona Virus, but if you’re planning to extend it let everybody know you’re at home working, not resting.
It’s important people understand your work hours are the same as theirs. No, you can’t give your cousin’s children a ride to school because “she’s the one who is working 9 to 5”. You can’t shop for groceries, you can’t pick up anything from the dry cleaning.
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You deserve to rest
I’ll tell you, if I was working for some company I doubt I’d have this problem, but anyway… sometimes I have to force myself to stop. When I’m working on some project I’m really passionate about it – like my shop for example – I can forget time and spend hours focused on a task.
That’s why having structured working times is important. If you start to work anytime during the day and don’t have a stop time, you can lose it easily. Set an alarm if you need it and STOP working!
I also learned how to identify days I’m not that into work and just rest. Sometimes I feel I’m not being as productive as normal and at the beginning I used to force myself to continue to work. That is the worst decision!
Nowadays I just stop because I know it’s just my brain saying it needs some rest and everything is gonna be fine the next day. If I respect my brain and stop working, I can feel a boost in my productivity over the next few days. If I don’t, not so many tasks will be done properly and as a result, I’ll have to redo them anyway. So why bother?
Some quick tips
Organize your space. I’m not an organized person but everyday, before I start to work, I clean my desk and get it ready for a day of working.
Prep meals in advance. Don’t spend your lunch time cooking (aka working). Prepare some meals in advance and use your full one hour to reload your energy.
Forget your phone. If you can’t resist looking at your phone screen all the time, leave it in a drawer or out of your office.
Decorate your office as much as you like. Loving your work space is the first step to loving your work.
Don’t leave food on your desk, it’s just a danger trap.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the tips I shared and let me know if you want more posts like this here on the blog. By the way, if you have more tips, please share them with us in the comments section below.