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5 Tips to Maximize Productivity Working From Home

Is anyone suffering “coronavirus fatigue”? I certainly am! While I don’t mean to minimize a legitimate concern, I’m sensing a herd mentality beginning to take hold. Given that organizations are shuttering offices and conferences are being cancelled every day, it seems like political correctness is beginning to override common sense. I spoke with a good friend today who owns a 10-person company and she was thinking seriously of shuttering their office – not because she’s afraid of the virus itself – but because of the risk of being seen as irresponsible in a tight-knit startup community.

One thing is for certain. There are more and more people working from home every single day. Unlike me, many of them are not used to doing so. As a veteran of working from home, I thought it might be a decent time to share a few “hacks” that have helped me maximize productivity at home. When done properly, working from home can help you cross more things off your list than an average office day.

1) Find An Appropriate Home Base

One of the worst possible things you can do when working at home is get too comfortable. If you’re sitting in the same armchair you use to unwind after a long day at the office, your brain will automatically associate a mode of relaxation. Regardless of how hard you try, you’ll find it extraordinarily difficult to catch any momentum.

I often did this when I first started working from home until I finally realized I needed a change of scenery. It makes all the sense in the world to set yourself up for success before you begin.

2) Make A To Do List

At home, focus is everything. Before starting anything, it makes loads of sense to think about what you want to accomplish during your work hours. It’s super easy to drift into projects that aren’t a high priority, or worse, not a priority at all. The simple act of making a list can provide a little structure and discipline to a day that could otherwise become rather unproductive.

3) Keep Distractions Out Of Sight

Whether it’s the television, a household chore that needs to get done, or that riveting book you’re in the middle of, it’s critical to keep these things out of sight and out of mind. It’s much easier to get distracted at home so it’s best to make sure your work space is completely free of potential distractions that have the potential to pull you in.

4) Institute a Strict “No Errand” Policy

If you’re working from home, it needs to be viewed as a regular workday. If you decide you’ll take a quick break to pick up a few groceries or some clothes for the kids, these little excursions can quickly snowball into multi-hour expeditions. You’re best to stay at home during your working hours and leave the errands to your leisure hours as you would on any other workday.

5) Take Regular Short Breaks As Rewards For Work Completed

We take for granted (and often lament) that office life can introduce many unforeseen twists and turns in a day. What we don’t recognize is that these unexpected distractions actually keep our workdays dynamic and interesting. The quiet of your home during the day can seem a little surreal, especially if you have a house full of kids. Consider taking short breaks regularly to ease the monotony of the silence. A best practice is to use these breaks as rewards for completing certain tasks or projects.

At first, you may feel a little like a fish out of water when working from home. Until you settle in (and for all our sake, I sincerely hope you don’t have to), it’s important to follow these simple rules to keep yourself on the productivity rails. With a little discipline and a little luck, you might find yourself getting more done than you ever thought possible!

 

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Brent C. Wagner