Useful work from home tips you can use right now to boost work productivity, earn more money and have a better work life balance.
Last week, we shared our personal experience on how you can make money from home working as a freelance transcriptionist with Rev.com. So it made sense this week to share our top work from home tips to help you maximise work productivity, earn more money and have a better work life balance.
Many of our readers don’t know this, but we both worked office jobs for almost 10 years before we moved to Berlin and started blogging full time. We love working from home and having the option to work anywhere with an internet connection. But it does come with its own set of challenges.
So today we’re sharing useful work from home tips and remote working tips that we learnt in the past year.
The Benefits and Challenges of Working From Home
It’s easy to see the benefits of working from home when you’re use to working in an office.
No more idling in traffic jams or getting elbowed taking public transport to work. No more dressing up or deciding what to wear the next day. And the best part? You can avoid that chatty colleague who’ll find any reason to strike up a conversation with you just because you’re sitting close to the printer.
Working from home has its perks, we won’t lie. But that dream could quickly turn into a nightmare if not managed properly.
So if you find yourself suddenly ‘enjoying’ washing dishes or doing laundry when you’re suppose to be working, you’ve come to the right place.
We’re sharing our ultimate work at home tips and tricks for minimising distractions, maximising productivity and becoming a pro at self discipline.
Tip # 1: Set-up And Create A Dedicated Work Space
Our first work from home tip is setting up and creating a dedicated work space at home. Why? Well the key to working productively is setting the right boundaries and transitions that will create a sense of routine.
While some of us love routine and others hate it. There’s no denying that routines can help us feel more in control, cope with change, form healthy habits and reduce stress levels.
So use what you have at home to create that space. Whether that’s the kitchen table, dining table or work desk. The idea is to get in the right frame of mind to work whenever you’re in that space.
You can still create a dedicated home office even if you only have one table at home. Simply pack and unpack your workspace daily. The process of packing and unpacking will help you transition into the mindset for working.
Whichever option you pick, make sure to keep your workspace tidy and organised. Less clutter means less distractions.
Tip # 2: Work In A Bright, Well-Ventilated Room
If possible, pick a bright, well-ventilated area to work in. You’ll feel more motivated to work and find it easier to concentrate. Move some furniture around if you need to.
If that’s not possible, liven up your workspace with some indoor houseplants. Bringing a little bit of nature inside can help sharpen your focus and create a more appealing workspace.
Tip # 3: Set Yourself Work Hours
Setting yourself work hours is simple enough if you’re working remotely for a company. But if you’re freelancing and working for yourself, it can be really tempting to flip open your laptop and work until ungodly hours. Especially if you’re like us and love what you do.
Set work hours for yourself whether that’s 8 to 4, 9 to 5 or whatever time suits you. The important part is sticking to those times, working when you’re the most productive and having a set time to relax and unwind.
Tip # 4: Get Dressed Everyday
Yes, we know how tempting it is to rock up to work everyday in PJs. Or even better yet, no pants! But it can hamper work productivity if you find it hard to get in the work mindset at home.
Get in the right frame of mind by changing out of your PJs into something else. Throw on a cardigan with some sweat pants or change into your workout clothes. The simple act of changing out of your pyjamas will help you transition between time to rest and time to work.
Tip # 5: Create A To-Do List
The most useful work from home tip if you are self-employed, a content creator like us or if you simply have a huge workload. Creating a to-do list for all the tasks you need to complete on a daily or weekly basis.
We always start our day writing down the tasks we need to complete and tick them off as we go. We find that this helps us avoid feeling overwhelmed. It also makes bigger tasks more manageable when you can break them down into several mini tasks.
On days when you’re not sure where time went, you can always look at this list and see what you’ve completed. It will also help keep you accountable on those days when ironing your clothes miraculously becomes a favourite pastime.
You can use Google Doc, digital post-its or old fashioned pen and paper to create your to-do list. The key is to keep the list manageable and not to overload it.
Tip # 6: Tackle Your Most Demanding Tasks First
It sounds counterintuitive but working on the most daunting and demanding tasks first will help boost productivity.
Most people feel the most energised in the morning (especially after coffee) which makes it the optimal time to tackle your most difficult assignments.
This way, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment because your most dreaded task has been done. And most importantly, your day can only get better and easier as you tackle the simpler tasks throughout the rest of the day.
Tip # 7: Eliminate Distractions
One of the hardest things to avoid when working at home: distractions.
Distractions are quite personal, what distracts you might not distract us and vice versa. The key is to identify what your biggest distractions are, remove them or schedule them for your breaks.
Tip # 8: Avoid Multitasking
Many of us think we’re masters at multitasking (including us) but the truth is that it’s only an illusion. Doing multiple tasks at once may make us feel like we’re doing more in less time, when we’re actually being less productive.
Scientists estimate that we are 40% less productive than if we had only focused on one task. That a huge difference and why we try our best to remind ourselves to avoid multitasking when working from home.
Tip # 9: Switch Phone Notifications Off
This work from home tip is essential for accomplishing tip #8 and #9 successfully. And that’s switching off your phone notifications.
A simple yet difficult task to do when we’re all so plugged in. But this tip is guaranteed to make a massive difference to your productivity levels.
Keeping your phone on the other side of the room so you have to walk there to check it, will also help reduce the temptation. This way you can use it as a reward and reserve it for your breaks and hourly walks.
Tip # 10: Check E-mails Periodically
Check your e-mails periodically if your job doesn’t require you to be instantly available via e-mail.
You’ll eliminate a distraction and the temptation to multitask by setting specific times to check and respond to e-mails.
We find checking our e-mails 3 times a day (morning, midday and afternoon) best for us. But feel free to adjust it to suit the type of work you do.
Tip # 11: Communicate With Your Team
Ever heard the saying ‘Out of sight, out of mind’? This can easily happen when working remotely. So make sure to maintain regular communication if you’re working as part of a bigger team.
Send an e-mail to keep them updated on your progress, what work you’re busy with and your tasks for the week. Or give them a quick call if you need to. The key is to make yourself visible within your team.
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Tip # 12: Schedule Blocks of Uninterrupted Time
One of the awesome things about working from home is being able to carve out uninterrupted time in your schedule. That’s a chunk of time you’re allocating to yourself, with no disruptions.
Depending on the nature of your job, you might need to block that time out of your diary so that your team knows not to schedule a meeting or call you during that time.
You’ll be amazed at how much work you can do in 30 minutes when you’re not interrupted.
Tip # 13: Block Social Media During Work Hours
We all know that social media is a productivity vampire. Unless it’s part of your job or work tasks of course. But it’s still one of those things that are easier said than done.
What we’ve done to conquer this beast is to not have any social media pages open. That includes the usual culprits like Facebook and Instagram, as well as some of the lessor known ones like Whatsapp Web and YouTube.
Another trick is to only use social media on our phones and not our laptops. That way we can draw the boundary between work and play.
Tip # 14: Set Up Boundaries With Family And Friends
It’s quite normal for family and friends to think you’re available all day to text or chat when you work from home. But the truth is work is work, whether you work from home or from an office. So make sure to set this boundary with your friends and family.
You can easily do this by switching your phone notifications off and respond later when you take a break.
Tip # 15: Cook Meals in Batches
It’s so important to eat proper meals when working from home and not just graze all day. Not only is it crucial for setting a routine, but you’ll likely eat a more nutritious meal as well.
Cooking proper meals do take time and that’s why our tip is to cook your meals in batches. Having some prepared meals in your fridge will not only save you time. It will also help reduce the temptation of junk food, which brings us to our next point.
Tip # 16: Have Healthy Snacks On Hand
One of the side effects of working at home is wanting to eat and snack all day. We’re not sure why this happens, but somehow your stomach becomes a bottomless pit when you’re working from home.
To prevent expanding waistlines whilst keeping hunger at bay, always make sure you have healthy snacks at home. We’re talking nuts, fruit, yoghurt. Basically anything that is easy to grab and is also nutritious.
It is incredibly tempting to rip open a bag of chips or sweets and snack away. But these types of foods tend to leave you feeling lethargic, making it harder to concentrate and work productively.
For optimal productively, satisfy your cravings after your work is done.
Tip # 17: Take Breaks, Get Up And Walk
You have to take sufficient breaks to perform at your best at home. We like to get up every 60 to 90 minutes for a quick walk. Whether that’s to get something to drink or go put the laundry in.
If you need an extra energy boost, put on your favourite tunes and dance or jump around for a bit. Getting your blood flowing will help you focus when you get back to your desk.
Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to take a break or use a fitness tracker if you have one. We use the Fitbit Inspire to keep ourselves in check.
Tip # 18: Set Alarm For Things To Do
Another great way to get moving and take a break is to get some household chores done. Whether that’s buying groceries, doing the dishes or preparing your next meal.
Schedule it in your diary or set an alarm on your phone so you get it done.
Tip # 19: Schedule In Exercise
If doing household chores is not your idea of taking a break, why not do some exercise instead?
Exercising between working is a great way to boost work productivity and increase focus. Take a quick 30 minute walk outside or do a quick follow-along home workout. There’s plenty of free options on YouTube.
Pick something you enjoy, whether that’s yoga, dancing or boxing. You’re more likely to stick to it if you enjoy it.
Tip # 20: Listen To Focus Music or Study Music
Some sounds can be distracting whilst others can help you focus and block out noise. It’s entirely subjective and personal.
We find listening to ambient music and nature sounds help us concentration.
If you’ve never tried it before, just search for ‘focus music’ or ‘study music’ on Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify or even YouTube.
Tip # 21: Reserve Netflix Series For Weekends
You’ll want to reserve starting that new Netflix series to Friday nights. Hopefully you’ve picked something that you can binge watch over the weekend and be done with by Monday. Otherwise you might have to ask a friend to hold your TV remote as hostage so you’re not tempted to watch just ONE more episode during your ‘breaks’.
The bottom line? Don’t test your willpower and discipline against Netflix. Netflix will eventually win.
Tip # 22: Keep Hydrated
Drinking water and keeping hydrated improves concentration and cognitive function.
Our tip is to keep a jug of water next to you to remind you to drink up. It will also help you curb your inner snack monster.
Tip # 23: Rest Properly On Sick Days
It’s very tempting to power through and continue working from home when you’re sick. But work is work and you deserve to take a day off to recuperate whether you work from home or the office.
Don’t guilt trip yourself. Just follow tip #11 and let your colleagues know.
Tip # 24: Optimise Schedule To Suit Your Productivity Levels
We are all different. Some people work better early in the day, whilst others function better at night.
So feel free to optimise your schedule to suit your productivity and energy levels if your work hours are flexible. The key is to find your rhythm and use all these tips to create the best routine that suits you.
Tip # 25: Be Patient And Kind To Yourself
Working from home sounds easy, but it can be challenging if you’re use to working in an office. And just like any new skill, it can take some time to get the hang of it.
Don’t beat yourself up if your work productivity takes a dip. You will go through a period of trial and error before you find what works for you and what doesn’t. Be patient, kind to yourself and learn from the good and bad.
Like with any other job, there will be days where your productivity is fired up and also days where you’re procrastinating the day away.
What’s important is to remind yourself the perks of working from home and re-look at what you could change and adjust to improve your productivity.
Tip # 26: Unplug At The End Of The Day
Our final work from home tip is to unplug and rest at the end of the day. It is tempting to answer work e-mails from your phone or flip open your laptop when you’re bored or can’t sleep. But ensuring that you rest properly can help you avoid a burn out.
Besides that, it’s important to maintain a good work life balance. Spend time with your friends and family or on yourself. Otherwise any of this wouldn’t be worth it.
That was a lot of tips, so here’s a quick summary:
Useful Work From Home Tips That Improve Productivity
- Set-up and create a dedicated workspace
- Work in a bright, well-ventilated room
- Set yourself work hours
- Get dressed everyday
- Create a to-do list
- Tackle your most demanding tasks first
- Eliminate distractions
- Avoid multitasking
- Switch phone notifications off
- Check e-mails periodically
- Communicate with your team
- Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time
- Block social media during work hours
- Set up boundaries with family and friends
- Cook meals in batches
- Have healthy snacks on hand
- Take breaks, get up and walk
- Set alarm for things to do
- Schedule in exercise
- Listen to focus music or study music
- Reserve Netflix series for weekends
- Keep hydrated
- Rest properly on sick days
- Optimise schedule to suit your productivity levels
- Be patient and kind to yourself
- Unplug at the end of the day
It’s not easy to follow all these tips. Even for us and we’ve been working from home for almost a year now. So don’t be too hard on yourself. What counts is progress, not perfection.