Working from home can be a beautiful thing. There’s no mad dash from the moment your eyes open to the time you spend grooming, getting dressed and eating breakfast. No unexpected fits of road rage on your commute to work. In fact, not having to commute in and of itself is a big win. According to the 2019 US Census Bureau, the average commute time was 26.9 minutes. That’s almost five hours each week on the road! Sure, you could spend that time listening to a riveting podcast such as the Wheelhouse Factory Podcast. But wouldn’t you rather be listening in the comfort of your own home? At the end of the day, there are several advantages to working from home.
In this article, we will explore the tactical ways that you can maximize your productivity at home. We’re not giving you new software to buy. And we’re not going to ask you to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Our goal is to be practical and pragmatic. With that in mind, let’s jump into it with a few work from home tips.
Productivity Tip #1: Define Your Work Zone
One benefit of working in an office is that you typically have a designated work area. You can make it your own; a real home away from home. There are even HGTV shows dedicated to perfecting the design of work cubicles.
It’s not always quite as clear cut at home though. This is especially true if you live with multiple people who are also working or kiddos who require attention-on-demand. The challenge becomes even more pronounced as precious square footage becomes less and less available. Moving around from one work area to another is disruptive. Part of being productive is being comfortable and settled. Knowing that you have a designated location that is yours and yours alone is mentally comforting. A sacred area where you can work in peace and not have to worry about getting interrupted. Even if you only have one single corner to call your own, take advantage of that space. Make it yours and protect it as though your productivity depends on it.
Productivity Tip #2: Eliminate Pain Points in Your Routine
Your daily routine is your sanity check barometer. Reflect for a moment. On a scale from Zen to Kristen Wiig losing her mind in Bridesmaids, how do you feel about the way your day is structured? Is your current routine optimal for productivity?
If you find that you’re able to relate more often than not to the video, then we are here to help! We understand that reshaping your entire daily routine is not realistic. Instead, try focusing on three specific activities that cause you frustration each week and work on fixing those three areas. Perhaps it’s a manual process that you could substitute with an automated tool. Maybe it is a reoccurring meeting that is a waste of time. Regardless of what it is, the next step is the same. Work on addressing those three specific pain points you’ve identified.
For example, if there is a meeting that is wreaking havoc on your routine then you could try some of the following techniques.
- Be bold and reach out to the meeting organizer to confirm whether you need to attend
- Partner with the meeting organizer to identify a compromise that demands less of your time
- Decline the meeting series altogether and communicate to the organizer that you can add more value by using the time differently
Productivity Tip #3: Set Your Work Hour Boundaries
Another benefit of working in a co-working space or office is the clear line between being at work and not being at work. While you work from home, the lines become more challenging to define. If you use a public-facing calendar that others use to book time with you, then we propose a simple solution. Simply block your calendar during all times you are not working. For example, if you want to work from 7 AM to 4 PM each day, block your calendar during all times surrounding that window. You could even designate the time as “Busy” or “Private” in the calendar block subject line. This tactic will help you be more productive while you work from home because it will reinforce the life balance you desire. You will be able to make the most of your time in the office and, more importantly, make the most of time away from working hours.
Of course, it’s not always that cut and dry. You may have work hours that require a more ambiguous start and stop time. Or you may have less control over when others need your focus or input within the workplace. Admittedly, that does make it a bit more challenging. One life hack we recommend is to check out the Productivity Workbook from the Wheelhouse Factory Store. It includes several helpful productivity-related exercises including the Balance Radar exercise. This exercise provides a picture of where you’re allocating your time today. You will then brainstorm ways to reach your ideal allocation.
Productivity Tip #4: Embrace the Pomodoro Technique
At the Wheelhouse Factory, we are big fans of the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re not familiar with it and would like the nitty-gritty details, there is a super helpful blog post from lifehack.com. The gist of the method is fairly simple to implement.
- Step 1. Begin work and set a timer to go off after 25 minutes.
- Step 2. Once the alarm goes off, get up and step away from your work.
- Step 3. Take the next five minutes to relax and regroup. Go outside, surf the web or grab a quick bite in the kitchen.
- Step 4. Return to your work area and reset the timer for another 25 minutes.
- Step 5. Keep repeating this approach throughout the day.
The Pomodoro Technique is effective because it allows you to make the most of your work time in short bursts. Attempting to remain 100% focused and energized throughout the day is not healthy or realistic. Your mind and body need time to regroup and recharge. We highly recommend giving this technique a shot if you have not tried it before. It will almost certainly help you become more productive while you work from home.
Productivity Tip #5: Celebrate Your Wins
This one is cut and dry. Define what makes each day a successful day and celebrate your accomplishments. How you celebrate is up to you. Maybe it’s a long bath or maybe it’s a well-deserved cheat meal. No matter what you decide we cannot recommend this last tip enough. Reward yourself because you deserve it.
We hope you can introduce some or all of these tips into your day to help you be more productive while you work from home. If you have other tips to share, we would love to hear them! You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on Instagram @wheelhousefactory.
– Trevor Lightfoot