Whether you’re starting a side hustle and working at home, or switching to full-time entrepreneurship, transitioning to a work from home environment is tricky! We all need a boost when it comes to switching from an office set-up to our own kitchen table corner.
Which, by the way, first hack: don’t work from the kitchen table corner! Carve out some space specifically for work. Comingling your work and personal space increases the difficulty of shutting it down when you are done for the day.
I love finding new productivity hacks for working at home.
Here are some of the ones I think will help you, too.
1. Make your home working space
One of the best productivity hacks of all time is to create a boundary between work and home. It’s difficult when living and working in the same space, but the separation benefits your mental health AND your productivity.
No matter how much space in your home, you can increase your productivity by defining one part of that space dedicated to work. Use inspiration from Pinterest or creative articles like this one to make space work for you. But, stay realistic with what you can achieve within your budget and space constraints.
A good idea is to make use of a spare bedroom if you have one. You can shut your door and have some peace and quiet from the rest of the house.
Other things I’ve found useful for creating my home working space include:
- Trying to find plenty of natural light (maybe place your desk by the window if you can)
- Add a plant for a touch of green and healthier air quality
- Make sure you have a comfortable seat
- this is the one thing I’d say splurge on to keep your back happy!)
- Keep a tidy desk (physical clutter can damage your productivity and affect your wellbeing) I am extremely challenged when it comes to this area. If something doesn’t have a “home” it sits out until I can make room for it in my office. Unfortunately, this creates a cluttered mess!
2. Have a morning / evening routine
If you work from home all the time, it helps to create a routine just as you would if you were driving to the office. So, get up, shower, brush your teeth, and put on “work clothes.”
You’ll immediately feel more like working than lounging on the couch. I noticed during the pandemic on the days I get dressed and put make up on, I seem to have more energy and focus.
Extra bonus for when you have video calls – you won’t need to run around trying to change your outfit at the last minute!
Settling into the routine creates triggers in your brain that make it accustomed to working at its most productive point during the day. So, a pre-work routine like this pays dividends for your productivity.
Similarly, a routine for winding down clears your mind so you can enjoy your evenings! Having a closing ritual allows you to switch off so you’ll be more productive the next day. If you’re doing a post-9-to-5 side hustle, that’s even more crucial as your brain will probably be feeling exhausted by the end of the day.
A simple evening routine could be as little as a short walk around the block to get some fresh air, a quick stretch, and slipping into some comfortable “after-work” clothes.
If you still need inspiration, check out my other post on balancing your side hustle with your full time job.
3. Schedule your time
Another important productivity hack for working at home is to allocate specific time slots to the work you have ahead of you. While in an office, you might have several meetings breaking up your day, allowing you to then do desk work in spurts of productivity, in the work-from-home scenario you risk losing track of time, particularly when you work for yourself!
I can’t even tell you how many times I get distracted at home with laundry, the dogs, clutter and other projects. Over the years, I learned a method called “chunking” where I keep similar tasks together so I can complete my work in batches.
Here’s a good step-by-step routine to do every day to ensure maximum productivity:
- The night before, prepare your task list.
- First thing when you start work, review your to-do list and make any changes if necessary.
- Break down your tasks into what you can REASONABLY achieve that day
- Be VERY conservative here: we always think we can do more than we actually can! Raise your hand if you are guilty of the never-ending to-do list! (I’m raising mine up high)
- Being realistic with your goals and tasks creates a much more manageable schedule and sets you up for success!
- Allocate time slots in your calendar, schedule them if the tasks were meetings and someone else held you accountable for doing them!
- Again, have some leeway in timings and include breaks
- At the end of the day, take note of where you were successful at following your schedule and where you weren’t. Use this to create a better work schedule and routine.
4. Take breaks
If you work from home all day, you might go with no meetings or calls to break up your day. You may even skip lunch and find that you’ve been slouching in front of your computer for 8 hours straight. That’s not only bad for your health, it will also make you less productive (there’s only so much staring at a screen that your brain will take!) and, in the longer term, can cause depression.
To avoid this, make sure you take some active breaks throughout the day.
For example, get up from your desk to make a mid-morning coffee and stay away from your phone or computer. Better yet, shake off the cobwebs with a bit of movement, maybe some light stretches.
Try and get up from your desk at least once every 90 minutes. According to the Energy Project, taking a break every 90 minutes makes you 30% more focused afterwards!
5. Know when you work best
The great advantage of working at home is that you don’t have to conform to an office routine. Don’t get stuck with that pattern if it doesn’t work for you.
Some of my friends are complete night owls and do their best work after dark, so they regularly tackle all their work emails once the kids go to bed. This isn’t just helpful because they find more peace and quiet, it just conforms better to their daily rhythm.
You’ll be the most productive when you enjoy working the most. So, if early mornings are not your jam, go for a run or walk or do something else in the morning, and get started with work in the afternoon.
You’re your own boss, after all!
6. Focus on the task at hand
Multi-tasking really is a myth. Several studies have shown that humans are much more productive if they focus on one thing at a time. Instead of opening 7 different browser tabs and telling yourself you’ll read those as well as cover all your emails over the next hour, go back to your schedule and split up all the things on your to-do list in chunks of their own time. Yes, even 15 minutes allocated on one task only will work wonders for your productivity.
A great way to help with your focus is the Pomodoro technique. Work in bursts of 25 minutes dedicated to one task only, with 5-minute breaks after every burst. This is great for forcing yourself to look away from the screen for 5 minutes every half hour, too!
7. Avoid distractions
This is another difficult one when working at home! How can you keep away from your social media notifications and the temptation to fall down an Internet rabbit hole, among others.
Distractions are normal and they’re usually welcome, as you’ll want to switch off a bit every now and then. But, it’s better to take a few minutes off for a breath of fresh air away from a screen, than to let yourself be distracted by social media.
To avoid this from happening, try to turn off push notifications and even put your phone in a different room so you’re not tempted to pick it up and scroll through. Website pop-up blockers are also great. You can even go one step further and install software that blocks you from going onto certain websites, like social media or your favorite blog (but not mine, of course, JK!)
Another big distraction when working from home is your family or pets. Have you seen the number of photos online of cats sitting on people’s laptops?!
Seriously, though, it’s important to set boundaries so the rest of your family understands the importance of not interrupting while working. As for pets… see if you can find something more tempting for them to do in another room!
Whether you’re just starting out working at home or this is your lifestyle and you’re trying to get more productive and less distracted, hopefully these tips will get you thinking about work a bit differently.
Remember, try to get as much fresh air as you can and move away from the desk regularly! Your brain – and balance sheet – will thank you.
I wanna know your best work from home tips! Share them in the comments section 🙂
Til next time,