11 Tips To Maximise Productivity When Working From Home

Apr 10, 2020

Faced with uncertainty as we do our best to tackle the global pandemic of Covid-19, we make the shift from the office to home. Some of us may be feeling an excited anticipation of being on our own schedule and not having to commute to work, but working from your own abode should come with a warning. Productivity can turn into procrastination almost immediately. First it starts with sleeping past your alarm, ‘because you deserve it during these stressful times’. Then you find yourself not bothering to change because pyjamas are actually very comfortable. Next thing you know it’s 5pm, you haven’t moved from the couch- glued to the live news updates, the kitchen sink is full of plates due to your hourly snack attack and your to-do list is untouched. Uh oh… So how do you keep productivity high? Read on.

1) Stay with your routine

Don’t stray too far from your everyday work schedule. We dutifully wake up to our alarm, we drag ourselves out of bed and get ourselves to the office. We sit on our swivel chairs, tapping away at our keyboards because guess what? We’re on the clock and under the watchful eye of everyone else. Try and adopt this attitude at home, pretend the cat is your micromanaging boss if you have to! Wake up each morning at the same time, set aside a daily lunch break and regular needed time-outs for stretches and resting your mind.

2) Create a positive work space

Working from home blurs those all important boundaries that help us to maintain our work-life balance. Creating a good work space is essential. You may not be able to split up work from home right now in isolation but you can segment a part of your home that is for work only. This will help the rest of your home feel like home! 

Ensure you have good lighting during the day and night, so you avoid eye strain in the evenings and allow that vitamin D to pour in through the windows. 

Make sure you have a good table and chair to sit at. Working from the comfort of your bed or couch isn’t good for your posture or physical wellbeing. Make sure your arms can rest on the table, whilst keeping your shoulders relaxed and your legs positioned at a 90 degree angle to the floor and seat. 

3) Put a cap on notifications

With daily news updates changing by the second and many friends, colleagues and family reaching out, due to sheer terror, love or boredom; it’s important not to disappear down the rabbit hole of information overload and panic. If you absolutely must, then allocate set breaks to check in with friends and family and also see how things are playing out. Put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb so you can trailblaze through key projects and tasks.

4) Learn how to prioritise tasks

Prioritising can be difficult, but when working from home you need it to avoid procrastination. Here’s some tools for prioritising:  

  • Punch Lists – The Everyday Agency are big fans of punch lists. These are quick 5-10 tasks that need to be done that day. Write them in priority order and work your way through them. 
  • 90 min focus sprints – A great concept from leading neuroscientist Sahar Yousef explains how to tap into focus by giving yourself 90 minutes of uninterrupted work. That means no notifications, no calls, meetings, emails or any distractions. Then when you finish, rest for 20 minutes away from the task at hand. 
  • Eisenhower matrix – this is a commonly used matrix, perfect for creatives who find it difficult to compartmentalise tasks like our analytical counterparts. This matrix is split into urgent and non urgent tasks, important and unimportant tasks. You want to be finishing your urgent and important tasks first, then your urgent and non important and so on. Check out the example below to help you decide what to do first.

5) Breaks are your friend 

We cannot stress the importance of having breaks when working from home. It can be easy when you run your own business to not have any me-time when working from home. The day morphs into one and before you know it; you realise you’ve been glued to your laptop for the entire day. We need to spend time away from technology and the blue light that it omits, otherwise it can play havoc with your natural circadian rhythm. This may trigger sleeping problems which is detrimental for your own wellbeing and can also impact productivity in a negative way. Give yourself regular 20 minute breaks, take time to be away from screens doing things such as meditating, exercising, reading and more. 

6) Working from home as parent 

Working from home as a parent, is no easy feat. You are at the remit of a young toddler or baby at every minute of the day that they’re awake and it can really be hard to see the wood from the trees. We have bullet pointed our top tips below for champion workers just like you! 

  • Be prepared to have a flexible schedule. Don’t beat yourself up if home schooling, working and maintaining the household, doesn’t go to plan 7 days of the week.
  • Know how you work best and when – knowing if you work best in the morning, in the afternoon or evening will be your saving grace. If your partner works best in the evening, allow them to have that time when the kids are asleep. If you work best in the morning, ask your partner to take over parenting. If you are a single parent then make use of nap times and break out times as much as possible. 
  • Prepare for change – if you are dealing with a deadline, a tantrum as well as your own anger, you have a slim chance of being able to deal with all three in the traditional way. So get creative, if the kid has a tantrum then blast the music and get dancing with them, bring humour in to avoid insanity!
  • Do a little, often – Letting the dishes mount up or the mess in the living room get out of control can cause it to become a bigger milestone. Instead do little and often in the time you have.
  • Turn your focus – instead of looking at work as a 9-5; split it into tasks. Becoming goal orientated is a great way to help digest larger tasks into smaller ones. Forget the hours as focusing on time when you have children at home can really demotivate you. 

7) Set the clock

Putting things off is so easy when you’re at home. Don’t want to finish your presentation? Let’s see what’s in the fridge! Can’t be bothered proofreading that document? Let’s do some laundry! If you’re really struggling with getting tasks done, try to apply the fifteen minute rule. Often the biggest part of procrastination is simply starting. By allocating a minimum of fifteen minutes to each task with the promise that you can abandon the said task if you’re not feeling it, helps you get a start on things. And surprise, surprise; by the time a few minutes have passed, you’re in the flow and that task didn’t end up being so dreadful after all. And the feeling of being able to tick it off your list? Bliss! 

8) Look presentable

As soon as your alarm goes, resist the urge to hit the snooze button and get yourself in the shower. Putting your best face forward and dressing up in some smart casual gear gives your brain an all important trigger that it’s now work time! Yes pyjamas are like a second skin, but continuing the day in your sleep wear is the ultimate sloth-mode. You’ll just associate it with a hangover or worse; being under the weather. Change, freshen up, hell even put some lipstick on if you fancy! 

9) Avoid total Isolation

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, well it’s the same for ‘social distancing’. Without our loveable workmates to bounce off and exchange ideas and thoughts with, it can get pretty lonely. Especially if you’re living by yourself and feeling ostracized. Combat the blues by setting aside daily time to connect with those who make you feel good. It’s important to keep the vibes high, and the good energy flowing. A little communication can go a long way to topping up our feel-good chemicals. 

10) Find Stability 

Right now there are a lot of things we cannot control right now, which makes us want to find solitude in escapism. We can all identify with trying to find ways to escape from food or drink to social media or games. Small breaks in the day will help you need to escape less, also making these escapes more productive will help – read a book, listen to a podcast, exercise or meditate. This can be a great way to create stability in a healthy way through escapism. 

When we have a lot of our control taken away, like in the current situation we find ourselves in, it can cause us to feel unproductive. We suggest focusing on what you can control, which gives you a sense of ease in your daily lives. You can control what to eat, what to wear, what you listen to and so on. You also need to remember it’s to not feel ok sometimes and feel demotivated or unproductive. Everyone is going to be managing stress differently. Every day is going to be different, so just be ok with that. 

11) Enjoy it!

There are so many perks to working from home. Not having to commute through busy roads means more time to either get up early and meditate or just enjoy a few more z’s. Get in the kitchen and cook your meals, saving money and also giving you the option to get healthy. There’s always a silver lining in every cloud; and no doubt the sun will soon shine again. We look forward to the time when we can go back to working alongside each other and resuming business as usual, but with a deeper appreciation of the simple things. 

So blast through any of these tips and you will be firing on all cylinders, becoming efficient and working your yellow socks off when it counts like us at TEA! Email the team to share your ideas on productivity we would love to hear from you email contact@theeverydayagency.com