Ways to stay productive when working from home

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Did you know the Tackle team is spread out across the country? That means we do a lot of remote work, so we are basically experts at working from home.

I personally have been working from home in various roles now for over eight years, and I absolutely love it. In fact, my husband also works from home so we are like the ultimate work-from-home power couple. It took a little bit of trial and error to figure out how to productively do this, especially adding a couple kids to the mix, but I truly think it’s a great option that employers should genuinely explore (but more on that in another post).

If you find yourself new to the work from home club or struggling to get your work done at home, I thought I would share some tips on how to be as productive as possible while working from home.

Have a designated work space

Make a desk space in your house, whether it’s a small table tucked in a corner of your living room or an actual office in your basement, make sure you have a space that is designated to get stuff done.

And no, your bed doesn’t count.

I would probably also take it one step further and say to designate this space ONLY for work. When you know your desk is set aside for working time instead of say, watching movies or posting on social media, you will less likely find yourself doing those things in this space during working hours. Besides, I think only using this space for work helps with tax write offs, although I am no tax expert.

Start and stop at the same time each day

When you work in an office, you generally have a time frame you are required to be there. Make your home office the same.

This is probably a little easier for you to do if you work for a company with set hours. For those who work for themselves, it definitely takes some discipline. However, doing this is life giving.

I used to do freelance consulting and would sometimes find myself working until 11pm many nights. I was frazzled and tired. When my partner got a “regular” office job with a more defined schedule, I adopted that schedule and found myself less stressed and could unplug from work much easier.

Plus, I found I was way more productive during those work hours than dragging tasks out all day.

Now don’t get me wrong, one of the benefits of working from home is flexibility. I think allowing yourself to fit in something that comes up is such an amazing perk of working from home, but those “somethings” should be the exception, not the norm.

Get ready before work every day

How many of you are reading this while still in your pajamas? Yeah, I see you looking around sheepishly.

Working in your pajamas is supposedly the number one benefit for working from home, right? Sure, you definitely could. And I definitely have. But I find when you actually do something to start your day before work, you get so much more done.

Getting fully ready for the day, including showering and dressed with *gasp* make-up and everything, is something I honestly didn’t adopt until I had kids. Sometimes I don’t even leave the house, but I will still do this every single day. It has been a game changer.

If I need to run a quick errand to the post office, I don’t have to waste work time getting ready to be presentable to the world. And when I am done with work, I am ready for adventures like happy hour or dinner at a friend’s house right away. Plus, now I do not dread a neighbor knocking on my door at 2pm and wondering why the heck I am still sporting my pajamas.

I feel so much more alert and ready to tackle the work day. And that’s the point, right?

Maybe it’s doing a morning workout or making yourself breakfast (and not eating it at your desk) is what helps you get ready for the day. Maybe it’s simply putting some pants on and brushing your teeth. Whatever it is, don’t skip out this daily routine.

Reduce distractions

This is How to be Productive at Work 101. Reduce things that distract you and you will magically be a get things done beast, right?

At home this can be easier for some, but harder for others. I’ve heard friends say that when they work from home they get so much more done because they are not interrupted by their co-workers all day. But I also get many questions from people (especially from parents) that wonder how I get anything done at home.

I still get distracted by all the normal distracting things people working at a computer all day might experience⁠—social media, breaking news stories, cute videos of puppies. And there are a million other articles out there with tips to help you with this. I am talking about the at home distractions.

Honestly, the biggest distraction reducer I have already covered above⁠—having a designated work space. So start there.

Other things that help are making sure your space is well lit and quiet. Noise cancelling headphones have been a game changer for my husband, and also saved us from spending thousands of dollars on noise-reducing insulation for his office. So maybe get yourself some of those if your house or apartment isn’t the quietest.

Now a special note to the parents reading this. My number one recommendation in reducing distractions is to get yourself some childcare. I tried for years to juggle working from home with kids without added supervision, and it was literally the hardest thing I have done in my life. Work while the kids are in school, get a nanny, ask a grandparent, send them to daycare. Do what you need to do, but find someone else to be responsible for your kids while you are working. You will get so much more done and be significantly less stressed doing it. Plus, family time will be so much sweeter.

Be extra communicative

All life lessons probably include this tip: communicate, communicate, communicate.

You are not in an office so people aren’t seeing your smiling face every day. Remind them that you are still there by making sure to touch base regularly. Even if it’s a quick good morning or coffee emoji on Slack, make your presence known.

Ask questions, make comments, be sure to engage with the happenings of your team. People who work from home can get labeled as a slacker, especially if you are more on the “recluse” side of things. And while there are those few bad apples, I have personally found that people who work from home usually get way more done so let’s remind those who work in an office of this.

You aren’t physically seen, so make sure you are heard.

Can’t get to something right away, let them know. Received an email asking you to take care of something, respond letting them know you’re on it. This might not necessarily help your productivity, but it definitely could. Regardless, it is a good reminder to those who work from home.

Take breaks

You don’t have a water cooler at home. (Well, maybe you do, but not really my point.) You don’t get to venture into your co-workers office for a little non-work related chit chat or grab lunch with your teammates at the pub next door when you work from home.

In fact, it can get a little isolating when you work from home.

So instead of sulking about that fact, take advantage of that work from home status.

Take your dog for quick walk around the block or work from a coffee shop for an afternoon. Get up and do a load of laundry or vacuum your bedroom while you stretch your legs. Meet a friend for lunch or run a fun errand. Just get up from your desk and do a little reset.

Afterall, you can do whatever you want when you work from home, right?

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