Working from home has some amazing perks… no rush-hour commute? Yes, please! There are numerous benefits that come with remote work; it can allow more flexibility, greater work-life balance, and it can save you a ton of money (commuting costs, work wardrobe, parking, dining out, etc.). But working from home can also have some unique challenges that are often over-looked. While Uroš and I are often on the road travelling, much of our work involves work-from-home days, where we catch up on e-mails, conference calls, editing content and working on new projects. With that, we have learned a lot over the years about staying productive when working from hotels or from home.
Productivity is often one of the main struggles people face when making the transition to a work from home environment. With the comforts of home all within your “workplace”, there are plenty of distractions around… TV, easy access to social media, your family or roommates, chores – the challenges are real! You’re now blending two worlds into one space and learning to hold yourself accountable is a hurdle faced by many of us in the beginning. But with time and experience, we’ve learned some really great ways to limit distractions, improve efficiency, and create structure around working from home.
We want to share with you our top 5 productivity hacks for working from home.
1. Create a defined schedule
Working from home means you might not have the same structure you would if you were working from a typical office setting. If you’re self-employed or work somewhere that allows flexible working hours, you have the ability to work when and how you want. Creating a set schedule with clearly defined working hours helps set boundaries while working from home. Get to know your working habits, and determine when you are most productive – that might be early mornings, afternoons, or even into the evening. Everyone is different and taking the time to figure out when you’re the sharpest will help you design a schedule that allows you to stay productive throughout the day.
Once you know your most productive working hours, plan your daily routines around it. By committing to a defined schedule, you will stay on track and maximize productivity. As an entrepreneur, it can be so easy to sit in front of your laptop working all day and all night. When you’re passionate about what you do, time flies by! This is great but working such long hours is not always great for creativity. Having a defined schedule will create a work-life balance that promotes both creativity and productivity. When your mind is fresh and focused, you’ll produce better work. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
2. Take breaks
It seems counter intuitive right? How can taking breaks possibly be good for productivity? It is so important! Studies have shown that taking breaks throughout the workday increases productivity, creativity, and promotes a positive mindset through stress reduction. Micro-breaks, lunchtime breaks and longer relaxation breaks, are all effective ways to break up the workday. Your breaks will reset your mind, boost your performance and help you manage never-ending to-do lists. Try it out, you’ll thank us later!
3. Time batch e-mails
Batching e-mails was a concept we first learned from Tim Ferriss in his book “4-Hour-Work Week.” If you haven’t read this book, it’s a classic with loads of productivity tips. Batching your e-mails basically means that instead of checking your e-mail all throughout the day and reading them as they come in, you will set specific time periods during the day where you check your e-mails, read, and respond.
By batching your e-mails, you are reducing the amount of times your brain is switching from one task to the next. When you are constantly switching, it takes much longer to finish the task at hand. For example, when working on this blog post, I remove distractions such as e-mails and phone notifications. I focus solely on the task at hand. If I didn’t, I would be distracted every time an e-mail pops up, losing my train of thought and reducing my productivity. It would take twice as long to write this post if I had to constantly switch my focus. Additionally, constant switching between tasks causes mental fatigue, making your entire workday more draining and less productive.
4. Use technology to streamline to-do lists
Ever feel like you have so much to do and don’t know where to start? That feeling is often compounded when working from home. When your workplace is also your home, you may have the looming to-do lists of chores and household tasks that can make work feel even more overwhelming than it already is. We love organizing our workday, creating to-do lists and using technology to keep us on track. Ticking off tasks on the to-do list feels sooo good! It also prevents procrastination.
Monday is a great tool for anyone who works with team members remotely and has multiple projects on the go. Monday can be used for project management and workflow management. You can give updates, write down task-lists, and stay in touch with team members. With a Monday account, you can invite anyone you’re working with to collaborate on projects, helping keep each other in the loop and reduce unnecessary e-mail threads that will fill up your inbox.
Other great options are Slack and Trello. These programs were both designed to streamline workflow management, improve communication among remote teams, and help improve productivity.
Finding the right technology that keeps you motivated and organized will maximize your productivity while working from home.
5. Do the task you want to do least, first
This is such a great tip for productivity and works well whether you work in an office or at home. When you have something you know you have to do for work, but it’s not something you enjoy, it’s easy to put it off and procrastinate. This affects productivity significantly. If your first task is one you aren’t crazy about, you will feel so much better after you check that off your list. The mental benefits of finishing those ‘dread-worthy’ tasks first will take you through the rest of the day, giving you a boost of mental clarity and motivation. After all, even when you love your job, there are probably some tasks you aren’t crazy about. It’s normal!
Working from home comes with unique challenges that can affect productivity and if you’re not used to a work-from-home lifestyle, it can take some time getting used to. We’ve learned that finding your own routine and creating a defined schedule can have a huge effect on productivity. Try out these tips and let us know what you think!