Working from home lets you create your own work schedule, and with that, can enable you to be your most productive self. But when you’re fully responsible for your own time, it can be overwhelming at first to manage that time efficiently. That’s where time management advice can help you tremendously. Here are eight specific time management and productivity tips to help you maximize your time, reduce distractions, and turn on work mode whenever you need to. Follow this advice to get more done in your work from home day and meet your productivity goals faster than ever.
1. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlierFor some, waking up is the hardest part of the day. The idea of waking up even earlier than necessary can seem undesirable on the surface, but it’s true: by setting your alarm 10 to 15 minutes before you actually need to wake up, you’ll be able to wake more gradually and be better mentally prepared for the day. Spend that extra time reading, checking your personal phone, meditating, or any other non-work-related activity that you find relaxing. By the time you actually need to get out of bed, your mind will feel more rejuvenated and ready to start the day, and your body will have begun producing the adrenaline you need to feel energized in the morning. That’s right: you’ll likely feel less tired than if you slept in those extra few minutes. Commit to trying this method out for at least a couple weeks and see how different you feel.
2. Start your work day with a signalThe start of your work day doesn’t have to begin with pressing the Power button on your laptop. It’s important to develop habits that signal to your body that it’s time to work before you ever approach a computer. Research shows that by completing the same activity at the start of each work day, your mind and body will learn to recognize that that activity means it’s time to enter work mode. Here are a few examples of signals that have proven successful:
- Making your bed
- Getting dressed (this could range from changing into a full outfit to just putting on your “work hat” or business pin)
- Finishing your cup of coffee, tea or morning smoothie
- Listening to a pump-up song
- Taking the dog for a walk
3. Treat your home as an office, not a homeEven when you’re working from home, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is critical. What does it mean to treat your home as an office? Consider these tried-and-true pieces of advice:
- Create a workspace separate from where you sleep and relax. This provides a mental signal to your brain that you’re in work mode and not “relax mode” or “sleep mode.” If you don’t have room for an office space or desk, still make sure that you have a distinct area where you work that isn’t your bed.
- Only use rooms that have a work purpose and that you could find in an actual corporate office, such as your personal office, bathroom, and kitchen. Avoid any bedrooms as much as possible, as these can tempt you into taking naps or unnecessary breaks.
4. Remove common distractionsWhile you won’t be distracted by coworkers or office treats while working from home, your home has its own set of diversions that can reduce your productivity. Here are recommendations on how to handle a few of the most common:
- Family: Set clear boundaries with your family members about how they should interact with you while you’re working from home. For example, you can set a rule that if your office door is shut, you shouldn’t be disturbed except in an urgent situation.
- Pets: While you can’t communicate explicit boundaries to your pets, you can set them for yourself. Have designated times where you give your full attention to your pets – for example, set aside a 20-minute period at the same time each work day where you take your dog on a walk. Or, have set play times each work day.
- Personal phone: While you’re likely tempted to check your personal phone often, you’re probably also aware that it can greatly interfere with your work time. Set your phone to airplane mode during the work day. If needed, you can check your phone during timed breaks, such as lunch time. If you have kids at school or need to be available for urgent calls, some phones have a “Do Not Disturb” mode that lets important messages come through in an emergency.
- Noise. If you live in a loud area, or next to a construction site, it’s understandable if you get distracted by the noise. Consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones, or listening to your own music to drown out the unwanted sounds. A good tip when listening to music is to try is to choose upbeat, energetic songs in a foreign language that get you in the mood to be productive but won’t tempt you to sing along. Music without lyrics is another excellent option. There are several apps available that play white noise, nature sounds, and other calming background music that you can try.