Once the reality of working from home sets in, productivity can be a struggle. Many of us virtual entrepreneurs realize it’s not as easy as the laptop on the beach dreamscape looks. Working in the sun and sand with your laptop in tow is about the least productive way to get anything done in your business.
Transitioning to a work-at-home environment from the brick-and-mortar world can be challenging. However, as many of us learned during the global pandemic, once you get the hang of it, you can join the ranks of remote workers, increasing their efficiency and productivity. Research shows that workers are at least 13% more productive at home.
If you’re trying to figure out how to increase productivity working from home, there are simple things you can do to stay productive and avoid losing your focus. As you journey through the transition, you’ll gain more confidence and a foundation for running a successful business from home.
1) Create a Dedicated Workspace
Working from your laptop on your bed will ultimately confuse your brain and drag down your progress. You’ll find yourself nodding off during the day and feeling wide awake at night while thinking about work. The same thing goes for your kitchen. You’ll end up snacking more than you want to get anything done.
In an ideal world, you have a dedicated and separate office just for you. I know from experience that isn’t always possible. Keep in mind I launched my own business from my bedroom in a small apartment in New York City. I also know many of us crave travel and a nomadic lifestyle while bringing our remote business with us.
If space is an issue, stake out a dedicated corner and do your best to make it your own. A privacy screen can help create some division between your personal and professional space. Set up your work area with all the things you need for the day, from chargers to a bullet journal. You can always put everything into a bin or add some shelving if your desk is too small.
There’s always a creative workaround for limited space. As your business grows, prioritize creating a more productive and professional space to work.
2) Get Ready Like You’re Going to the Office
If you’re struggling to figure out how to improve productivity while working from home, you need to act the part. Working in your pajamas gets old pretty fast and is not productive. Get ready like you’re going to the office, especially on days when you have meetings. A hot shower and pulling yourself together make a significant impact on your productivity level. Even virtual meetings deserve professional attention and putting on office clothes.
You don’t need to wear a suit, but you should look nice enough to be on a video conference. You can always create a virtual work wardrobe with comfy clothes for solo workdays and business casual for meeting days.
3) Set a Daily Schedule
You may need to put in some serious hours from time to time, especially when you’re getting your business up and running. But we all need a work-life balance to stay productive and sane at the same time. Create a daily schedule with at least some overlap into regular business hours to take care of client emails and meetings.
Setting a firm schedule may be more challenging if you have kids underfoot or are traveling, but you can make some adjustments daily. You may need to set aside an hour or two for client contact in the middle of the day and structure your core work hours in the evening or early in the morning.
4) Schedule Time Off
Creating a separation between work time and personal time is essential. Your business shouldn’t be about working non-stop to get it off the ground. You can build your business strategically and still enjoy your weekends and evenings.
5) Get Started Early in the Morning
Maintaining productivity while working from home requires a mindset shift in your morning routine. There’s a reason so many successful people rise early. Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 4 am, and Michele Obama rises at 4:30 am. Studies show that early risers are more proactive and more likely to anticipate and handle problems, earn more, and are happier.
If your household is especially prone to distractions at home, getting up early for uninterrupted, focused time before the kids rise can fuel your day with productivity. It’s still possible to be productive without waking at 5 am, but you need to adjust your schedule and environment to maximize your deep work time.
6) Set Yourself Up with the Right Communications Tools
I’m a recovering workaholic, and email junkie and know how disruptive a steady stream of communication can be. Instead, I focused on a system that maximized communication through ClickUp lists, Slack, and other communication tools to communicate with my team and clients easily.
Nailing down your communication processes saves time and amplifies clarity and transparency in your business. I check email twice a day now, and my business and team are more organized and productive because of it.
7) Limit Distractions
I indulge in some NPR news and podcasts in the morning while checking email and doing other mindless tasks. But when I do “Focus Work,” I turn off any distractions like music or notifications, so my work gets my full attention. Turn off your podcasts, sign out of social media (unless you’re working on social media for your business), and toggle your notifications off.
You can also set up a “911” channel on your Slack board if team communication may be absolutely necessary during your focus time. Let your team know when your focused work time occurs and alert you in the ’emergency’ Slack channel if your attention is required. The same goes for your smartphone. Set it up so only your children’s school and VIP contacts who can’t wait are the only people who can get through during your work hours.
8) Take a Break for Exercise and Meals
Your working from home productivity isn’t only about business building. You also need breaks to recharge your mind and stay productive. Take a walk, hop on your spin bike, go for a run, and do some yoga. Whatever you do, it’s essential to get moving, especially if you’re sitting on your butt behind a desk all day. Not only will you be more productive, but you’re less likely to succumb to snacking all day.
Make sure you schedule your meal times during the day and step away from your workspace. During the coronavirus pandemic, my husband was required to work from home. I stuck to my usual focused schedule, but we set aside at least 30 to 60 minutes a day to have lunch together. It gave us a break and helped make the most of the time together.
9) Set Expectations with Your Family and Yourself
Just like working in your office, your work-from-home hours are non-negotiable. You don’t run home to do laundry or schedule a contractor to come over. Protect your work-at-home hours, so your priority is on growing your business. Limit these distractions, and make sure to prepare them on days when you have a less intense schedule.
Let your family and friends know working-from-home is not an invitation to do chores or meet up for an impromptu lunch. You should also set expectations for yourself. Avoid the temptation to do household chores during the day, unless you bake them into your schedule.
Personally, the only time I let myself do a few chores is when I finish a task in less time than I thought it would take and have room in my schedule. I might pop to the laundry room and get a load done before it’s time to start my next task. But otherwise, you have to honor your schedule and your business.
10) Strategically Plan Your Meetings
Client meetings can take over your most productive hours if you’re not intentional with your schedule. If you know you think most clearly in the morning, save your meetings for the afternoon so you can do your highest level work when you’re the freshest.
Instead of asking what time a client wants to meet, you can send them a link to an app like Calendly. You set the times you’re available, and clients can pick and choose those slots and work around you.
11) Schedule Your Time Like a Pro
Don’t deviate from your daily or even monthly schedule or let your days fill up with distractions and unproductive work. Make sure you know what you’re working on for the day, the week, the month. I schedule my entire week, including downtime, so I know exactly what I need to accomplish. It’s my secret weapon for running two businesses in no more than 40-hours per week and earning multiple six figures.
12) Batch Your Work
Work from home best practices is all about maximizing your time. Batching work is a powerful tool that maximizes your time and productivity. Batch together tasks that align with your most or least productive hours. Use your less productive hours to focus on email or tidying up admin details. Your deep work and creative tasks should be scheduled during your most focused time.
13) Meal Prep
Scrambling to figure out what’s for lunch and dinner every day isn’t a productive use of your time. Whether you’re a mom or struggle with finding more continuity in your home, meal prepping is a game-changer. My husband and I plan our meals with an app and prepare them on Sundays to focus on work during the week and actually enjoy our time eating together. Lucky for us, abuelo and abuela come over most Sundays to help out with the kiddo while mama’s in the kitchen getting the meal prep done.
Boosting productivity especially when working from home takes discipline, but it’s not difficult to get started today. Pick and choose a few of our strategies here and keep adding techniques. Over time, you’ll find you crave staying productive and naturally look for ways to keep maximizing the time and focus in your business.