Years before the recent events happened, most people were accustomed to working at company premises, offices, and other designated workspaces. However, lately, the apartments and houses, once only for personal matters, are now filled with busy laptops, paperwork, and sticky notes. Moreover, even though it’s been a year since the global work setting shift, countless individuals still struggle to remain productive even in the comfort of their homes. Yet, while this is true, there are still ways to get things done and maintain a healthy work-life balance. In the following sections, we’ll discuss seven work from home productivity tips applicable to everyone.
7 Productivity Tips To Work from Home Effectively
Make Yourself a Workstation
Aside from access to machines or tools, companies build offices and workspaces to ensure quality output and help employees maintain work-life balance. Similarly, when working from home, having a dedicated workstation makes completing duties more manageable. In detail, an isolated environment helps the mind to focus on important tasks instead of thinking unrelated things or feeling urges to do other chores. Also, since it’s logical to store job essentials in the designated workroom, reaching for tools can be faster, and the rest of the house should look tidier.
In the process, one can convert an empty room into an office. It doesn’t have to look like something particular as long as it can seclude a person from the feeling of being in the house. On the other hand, for apartments or tiny homes, placing a divider similar to that of open offices should suffice. However, if such things still aren’t possible, one can try having separate devices or peripherals for work and personal use. As the former is quite unrealistic for many, using another mouse, keyboard, desk mat, and computer profile can still make a difference and help the brain focus better. Lastly, for a laptop, it’s possible to signify docking to an external monitor as work hours and using it independently as personal time.
Create a to-do List of Tasks For Each Day
Planning ahead of time is essential. Whether it’s a trip, celebration, or basically any event, listing all things to do and time to achieve them can contribute to successful execution. However, for other matters, like work, planning can also ensure that no time will go to waste, and one can prioritize the most critical tasks. On a work-from-home (WFH) setup, it’s possible to replicate such behavior by creating a to-do list every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a whiteboard, sticky notes, or a task management app; a work schedule laid out into smaller tasks can increase productivity, especially when doing projects at home, where distractions are everywhere.
Creating a to-do list is best done before the work starts. It could be written the night before, after work, or early in the morning. Whatever timing fits best, the idea is to plan what things to do on that particular day and consider how many hours to spend on each item if possible. Also, if there are too many projects, grouping chores by priority will help one complete more necessary tasks first, especially if it’s impossible to clear the to-do list in one sitting. Accordingly, doing so can maximize work hours each day and even potentially prevent burnout.
Use Productivity Tools
Even if it’s challenging to work at home, there are still ways to stay productive or at least get things done. Likewise, when it’s hard to perform tasks, then maybe it’s time to use or switch to better digital tools like the following:
Unlike the competition, Gmail makes it easier to compose and respond to emails, sort messages, and automate certain things. As such, there are AI-powered writing suggestions, inbox filters, and more work tailored power features. However, for maximum productivity, it’s best to use Gmail in a dedicated app like Boxysuite instead of browsers. Unlike using Chrome tabs, Boxysuite provides a clean and focused environment for Gmail and other services, namely Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Keep Notes. On top of that, being the first and only native Gmail macOS app, it provides system-linked features like Auto Dark Mode, Menu Bar/Keyboard Shortcuts, Dock Icon Alerts Counter, Support for Multiple Windows, and more.
Todoist is a minimalistic yet powerful task management app. It is available on major platforms, making it possible for users to access their projects and to-do lists anywhere and anytime. Regardless, some of the features that set it apart from others are its natural language support (meaning users can skip the manual input by typing words like “lunch with Jane in the morning tomorrow), productivity trends, and Kanban board as a project view option.
When working from home, it’s vital to backup files and data to avoid messing up with deadlines or losing progress. Thankfully, Google Drive makes saving documents easier and allows more people to benefit from cloud storage services. In detail, it provides a generous 15GB free space, automatic backup features (both for mobile and desktops), and version control for avoiding conflicts on file duplicates or sync errors.
Slack is a messaging platform that makes communicating between teams and coworkers easier and more enjoyable. Essentially, users can contact each other privately, hold audio or video calls, create groups to discuss projects, and transfer files. Moreover, to avoid hard-to-track conversations, the app employs threading where each message will sit right below or in line with the parent message. Also, with hashtags (#), there is no need to struggle with search results since users are only a click or type away from finding discussions for a specific topic or agenda.
Not long ago, note-taking apps were only for recording plain text and attaching a few files. However, with Notion, it’s now easier to make a database of journals, schedules, tasks, and basically any data of value. Unlike other writing tools, it offers a blank canvas that users can fully customize and scale with things like
tables, boards, and links. In other words, Notion combines notes, docs, wikis, calendars, excel sheets, and more into one digital workspace. We use Notion to provide support for Boxysuite users.
In many companies, there are always times where employees need to create banners or graphics for presentations, diagramming, or product visualizations. Nevertheless, today, nothing comes close to the popularity and work efficiency that Figma offers as a modern designing tool. As such, users can quickly create designs without installing a program (right from the browser), fine-tune shapes, components, or pictures with guides, and collaborate on projects in real-time. Above all, the service is free for general use, so one doesn’t have to pay for a subscription if the company doesn’t require the use of the tool.
Minimize Distractions and Maintain a Quiet Workstation
Even when working at company offices, distractions can waste time and hinder productivity. Currently, at the WFH setup, this problem is even more prevalent and, worse, hard to combat. Although this is true, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to minimize and fight distractions. Ideally, such issues are avoidable by using a dedicated room, removing unnecessary things within sight, and putting the phone into silent or do not disturb mode. If situations don’t permit, then facing the corner of a room with the least visible items that diverts attention would be an alternative.
Apart from objects, noise can also impact work efficiency, so it’s best to take a few actions to ensure a quiet workstation. In a room, one can put acoustic foams to at least dampen the sound coming from neighbors or other people in the house. Additionally, using earplugs or, if possible, a pair of noise-canceling headphones provides better protection from external noises without damaging the ears from blasting loud tracks. Lastly, if music is necessary to keep the mind active, binaural and Lo-Fi beats are both excellent alternatives for typical songs.
Keep Yourself Hydrated and Focused
There are several benefits of regularly drinking water, and one of these is that the brain can continue working normally. According to science, lack of hydration impedes cognitive function due to low H2O levels, so it’s always essential to have a bottle nearby. Fortunately, being at home also means quicker access to clean potable water. However, keeping hydrated is not enough to maintain focus. Instead, a person can meditate before work, listen to white noise tracks, and avoid doing things unrelated to the current task. Also, if something is bothering the mind, perhaps a thought or idea, writing it on a paper or notes app can trick the brain into disregarding that particular thing as it’s already safely recorded.
If unfamiliar, procrastination is the act of delaying something even while knowing that there can be adverse effects or consequences. When working from home, procrastination is one of the worst things that everyone should avoid or overcome. Aside from wasting work hours, it can also consume time that is supposed to be for personal matters when the deadline is near, but the project, for instance, isn’t quite complete. Regardless, to fight procrastination, the following actions can help:
Search for motivations from YouTube videos and podcasts or hang a framed slogan on the wall. Minimize the effort it takes to work; for example, prepare all devices and tools at night and clean the workstation every after work.
Set smaller, easy to achieve tasks instead of larger fewer ones.
Lock the bedroom and keep the key to a place where it takes effort to go or at least fix the bed where it’s uninviting to sleep.
Use a different profile on a computer and turn off the phone to silence notifications and prevent wasting hours scrolling through social media.
Take a Break Every Now and Then
Yes, completing tasks and deliverables are more important than anything else. However, it doesn’t mean that resting isn’t an option, even when not tired. Also, given that there are no 9 to 5 schedules dictating when work starts and ends, it can be tempting to overwork, possibly causing burnout. Instead, a better approach would be to take a break every now and then. Go outside, take a nap, watch an episode on Netflix, listen to music, or have a snack – whatever it may be, the important thing is that the body can rest for a bit from working. Besides, the brain can function better when not under stress, so please don’t forget to unwind.
Even with different possible ways to remain productive, there is still no perfect answer to the question: “how to work from home effectively?” However, by following the seven tips above, one can complete tasks and projects better and at least on time. Above all, doing such things help prevent burnout, protect the body, and ensure a better work-life balance.