22 Tips to Keep You Productive – When Working from Home

Home Office


These tips are not necessarily in order of importance or effectiveness.

  1. A clean desk is a good start. A messy desk can mean you are wasting one-and-a-half hours per day, either looking for things or having things distract you.

Dripping tapI don’t mean a solid block of an hour and a half. Just a minute here and a minute there and like a leaky hot water tap. Drip, drip, drip. Its not like a major loss, but at the end the day, we’re dumping litres of hot water down the drain that we are paying to heat.

  1. Take a shower and put on proper work clothes:
    • BEFORE you start work
    • BEFORE you pick up your phone
    • BEFORE you open your notebook
    • BEFORE you check your planner
    • BEFORE you boot your computer. (Although I usually boot up mine on the way to the shower so that it is ready to use when I’m dried and dressed).
  1. Assign fixed “working hours”. Allocating times for work will help get you into the mindset of working. It helps you to focus on work rather than all other distractions.
    Figure out your most productive hours:
  • Are you a morning person or an afternoon person?
  • Do you prefer to work in many short bursts?
  • Would you rather work at night while others sleep?

Pick your preferred productive hours, and focus on your work. If you don’t know when are most productive, try out different time slots each week; see which time slot resulted in your most productive week. Stick to that.

I suggest that you sign up with “Rescue Time”. It’s a personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time; providing tools to help you be more productive.

  1. Plan calls in the morning to force the early work start.
  1. Schedule as much as you can of the day.
  1. Plan your coffee or tea accordingly. Even use the smell as a trigger to put you into work mode.

Coffee break

  1. Use the room that has the brightest natural light.
  1. Turn off the TV, radio and mute social media.
  1. Create a physical workspace. Don’t just try to work in bed or crouched over the coffee table.
    Being productive is not all in the mind — it’s in the body too:

    • Get a proper working desk and chair, with good lighting above.
    • Simulate a working environment to help get yourself into the mood.
    • Ensure comfort and good ergonomics to prevent having to move around and getting distracted by pains in the neck or back.
  1. Every two hours take a short walk – outside if the weather allows. Working from home is the same as working anywhere else. Your body has a limited attention span. Beyond that optimal span, you start losing focus. Not only will your body thank you, you will also be able to focus better and finish up your work faster
  1. Set daily goals and to-do lists. Being organized is the first step to being productive. Know what you have to do, know which tasks are important, which are urgent, and which are optional.

    Based on goals in any area of your life, ask yourself, “What’s the ONE
    Thing I could do, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” Then time block to make it happen. It doesn’t have to be
    any more complicated than that.

    ~ Gary Keller

    It’s easy to get caught up in “busy-ness” and wheel spinning. This distracts you from “business”, the productive things that ought to be done.

Goal setting

  1. Clear the important household chores before starting work. You won’t have them hanging at the back of your mind all the time you are trying to work.
  1. If you have work to do in the morning, try not to party all night the night before. Attention span and mental focus still need a rested mind and body.
  1. Use mood music to wake up to, and then change the music when you begin working.
  1. Distractions at home are the biggest culprit to low productivity, so be proactive in removing as many of these distractions as possible.
    • Turn off the television
    • Put the phone at vibration / silent mode
    • Keep your favourite game / musical instrument / knitting kit out of view
    • Put up a house rule that you are not to be disturbed while working unless absolutely necessary

Working from home

  1. In general, dress up as if you were going to work at the office.
  1. Use mood music to wake up to, and then change the music when you begin working.
  1. Eat lunch in a separate room and try and not work while you eat.
  1. You need a spot where that is your designated work area. It’s a place no one else uses and you can put your stuff there and know where everything is at all time. It will help you keep organized.
  1. When someone asks for your time saying,”This will just take a minute”, tell them, “You’re lying.  You may not realize you’re lying, but you are. I’ll give you five minutes. You may begin now.”
  1. Do your Daily Planning each night. Planning out the most precious resource at your command, the next 24 hours, will direct you to spending your time more wisely.
  1. Some people spend a lot of their productive time looking for a pen or a pad of paper or staples for their stapler.
    Have enough:

    • pens
    • pencils
    • yellow markers
    • “sticky notes”
    • writing pads
    • printer paper
    • printer cartridges
    • updated telephone directories
    • staples
    • White Out
    • index cards
    • paper clips
    • etc., etc.

Terence Kierans
Principal, Cyberspace Virtual Services
PO Box 93 Quinns Rocks, Western Australia 6030
http://www.virtualservices.com.au/services.htm – I help small business owners find the gift of time so that they can focus on their core business.

http://vacertified.com/client-info/  – First in the World  to be VA Certified (and you can benefit)
http://allianceforvirtualbiz.com/ – Alliance for Virtual Business—Supporting the future of Business through Innovative ideas
2007 Thomas Leonard International VA of Distinction Award Nominee