America may be having a love affair with the idea of remote work, but staying focused and productive while working from home can be difficult. Over 20 percent of Remoters surveyed said they struggle to remain focused while working from home. When there’s always laundry that needs to be folded, dishes to put away, and errands to run, staying focused on work can be tricky.
To help you out, we’ve gathered work from home productivity tips from our trusted tribe of Remoters to help you forget about that laundry pile and stay on track.
1. Start early
When most people think of working from home, they probably imagine lazy mornings and a home-cooked breakfast. In reality, 61 percent of Remoters reported being most productive in the morning.
Julia gave us a glimpse into how she sets up her day, “Setting a routine is the biggest thing for me. I wake up at 7:30 a.m. every morning, give myself 30 minutes to dust off the cobwebs in my brain from a good night’s sleep, then log on to work at 8 a.m. If I start early, I do well throughout the day.”
2. Put aside time to set goals
It might be tempting to jump into your workday, without first taking a moment to assess the big picture and come up with a list of goals and tasks. This is one work from home productivity tip that several Remoters mentioned.
Bridget plans out each workday separately and considers bigger, weekly projects when she does. “In the morning I try to asses what I have to get done that day and what projects I’m working on that week, then I make a loose outline of what I’m going to work on and in what order. I’m not overly rigid about it, though, because I like to leave myself the flexibility to change focus or rearrange tasks if I need to.”
3. Prep your brain for the day ahead
When you work from home it can be tempting to roll out of bed, open your laptop, and start your day. Unfortunately for those of us who want every extra second of sleep, this is probably not the best method if your goal is to be alert and productive during your workday.
In order to be effective in his job, Tracy follows a strict morning routine to prepare his brain for work. “I have a set of morning rituals I generally follow, but one key thing I aim to do every morning is spending 10 minutes brainstorming 10 ideas on a given topic. I start the timer then pick a topic. I do this in Evernote, but I rarely reread what I write. The purpose is to build the skill of ideation and stop filtering my thoughts.”
4. Get dressed every morning
Laugh all you want, but anyone who works from home knows it can be tempting to spend the day in your PJs. The simple act of getting dressed for the day ahead can go a long way in keeping you productive and focused during the workday.
5. Daily exercise
We all know that exercise is good for us, but the idea of it impacting your work productivity may seem questionable to some. Gina says daily exercise is completely responsible for her productivity while working from home. To put it simply, “Running. Every. Single. Day.” is what keeps her motivated at work day in and day out.
Jonathan agrees. He says, “I swim or bike daily if I can, to get me out of the house/office and to give me a mental reset.”
6. Minimize the number of decisions you have to make
Routine gets a bad rap, but if it allows you to be more productive, we’re on board. Dan, who works while traveling, says minimizing the number of decisions in a day is key. “I minimize my decision making as much as possible. When I can walk the same route to work, eat the same lunch and sit in the same spot, it takes a lot of decision making out of my day.”
Regular routine can also help you discover when you’re the most productive. In his profile, Marcus suggests that “Having a set schedule of wake up time, break time, lunch, etc. will help you plan your day for the most productive times.”
7. Work from a coworking space or coffee shop
Some remote workers argue that working from a home office keeps them productive, but others find that working from home is too much of a distraction. If you fall into the second group, you’ll need to find a coworking space or laptop-friendly coffeeshop to remain productive.
Jenn, who falls into the latter group says, “I can’t work from home. I need to go to a space, preferably a coworking space where other people are working.”
8. Put on background music (or podcasts)
Again, what may be a distraction for some, can be helpful for others. If you’re easily distracted by music, you can skip over this productivity tip, but several Remoters report that music and even podcasts help them focus in on their work.
9. Try task blocking
In addition to setting goals and reviewing the day’s tasks, it may help to break down the day into blocks of time that are dedicated to specific tasks. Wendy says splitting the day and her tasks into two groups goes a long way in keeping her productive. “Time/task blocking and focusing on manager tasks in the morning and maker tasks and client calls in the afternoon when I’m feeling most productive.”