Your ideal workspace. A quiet retreat with closed doors where productivity flows with zero interruptions, distractions, or diversions.
Sounds great, right?
The reality is that many work spaces aren’t found in dedicated spaces and there are no doors to close. Rather, they are in the middle of highly trafficked areas shared with family, friends, or roommates. And as for interruptions, distractions, and diversions? They flow more easily than the work you’re supposed to be doing.
As much as this may ring true in your own life, it doesn’t mean your productivity is doomed forever. Keep reading for some helpful tips to make your home office environment as productive as possible.
How to Work More Productively From Home
1. Establish A Space
Whether it’s at a desk in your formal home office or in the middle of your kitchen at the dining table, designate a space where work can most easily be accomplished. If at all possible, we recommend finding an area that is behind closed doors or, at a minimum, out of sight to some degree. The further you physically distance yourself from the other members in your household, the less distracted you’ll be by them and vice versa.
2. Set A Schedule
As much as possible, have a realistic schedule that fits your lifestyle. Maybe that schedule is determined by your place of employment, but in cases where you can build in more flexibility, consider the times when you’re most likely to be productive. Whether that’s before the sun rises, right after lunch, or once everyone has gone to bed, be consistent with the hours you’re setting aside to focus exclusively on work. It’s also perfectly acceptable to set aside multiple, shorter blocks of time rather than one long, solid block of time if that is a better fit. It may also be the more realistic option if you’re working from home with young children present.
3. Establish A Routine
The more you can normalize the act of working from home, the better you’ll be at adhering to a productive schedule. Therefore, make it part of your everyday routine by consistently preceding it with the same activities. That might mean you rise at 6 A.M., get ready for the day, enjoy a cup of coffee, perform some light reading for 15 minutes, and then get started with your workday by 7 A.M. After regularly performing these rituals as part of your routine, you’ll have the right mindset by the time you begin working so you can hit the ground running.
4. Set Boundaries & Expectations
Once you’ve established a workspace, schedule, and routine that you’re happy with, communicate it to your family. The most well-intentioned plan won’t matter if no one in your household is aware of it. By communicating your plan to your family, they’ll know when you’re accessible and inaccessible throughout the day. This is also a necessity if your spouse also works from home. By talking through your plans together, you’ll be able to establish individual schedules together to ensure both of you get the quality productive time you need.
5. Prevent Distractions
If you get easily distracted by certain devices or notifications, remove or disable them. This can mean keeping your mobile device out of sight, muting text message or app notifications, or disabling email notifications. The last thing you want to do during your scheduled productive time is waste it by responding to non-productive distractions. Instead, plan on checking texts, social media apps, or emails only during your scheduled breaks. Which leads us to…
6. Take A Break
It isn’t realistic to expect yourself to focus non-stop for eight hours straight, which is why you should plan scheduled breaks throughout your day. We recommend spending 15 minutes per break period (not including lunch!) to perform light stretches, take a quick walk, refuel with a light snack, or catch up on some light reading. Any brief activity that enables you to clear your mind will help keep your focus on track once your work tasks resume.
7. Prepare For Productivity
One of the final tasks you perform at the close of your workday should be to ensure the following workday gets off to a smooth start. This includes writing down your action plan and follow-up items for the next day, organizing any scattered papers or work supplies, and eliminating any visual clutter. By starting every workday with a fresh, clean workspace, you’ll be able to immediately focus on the tasks at-hand.
Need help finding the right desk for your home office? Check out our desk style guide.