8 tips for staying productive when you work from home


The trend of working remotely has increased significantly over the past 10 or so years. For many companies, it’s cheaper to have people working this way. Whenever I tell someone I work from home, they always respond with something along the lines of “Ah you’re so lucky, that must be so nice.”

Yes, sometimes it’s nice. But, as I’m pretty sure anyone who works from home will tell you, a lot of the time it’s really difficult. Being at home means there are plenty of distractions. It means that there is no “office environment” to keep you on your toes. You can’t just “pop in” with a colleague to run an idea past them or ask them a question. The most difficult part about it is that you have to be diligent if you want to make sure you meet deadlines and get everything you need to do, done.

These are my tips for staying productive when you work from home:

  1. Have a designated (and tidy) workspace in your home


We have a 2 bedroom house, so our second bedroom is a guest room which doubles as my “office”. It was a squeeze using it as both a bedroom and a place for me to work, but by keeping the furniture minimal, we made it work.  I have a desk which fits my laptop, keyboard and mouse, and a printer. I have a year planner up on the wall, and a bookshelf next to the desk for any stationary and books I need. I try to keep my workspace neat and tidy, as much as possible, because clutter and productivity don’t work together for me.

2. Use a daily planner to set up your meetings and tasks for the day


I found my planner at Typo, which I love (seems like they don’t have them on the website anymore, but their planners are all really nice!). It has space for me to record any meetings I have, my top 3 goals for the day, some notes and my to-do list. It’s simple, but it works. I try to add in any to-do’s for the next day as soon as they land on my desk. You can use Google Calendar if you prefer an electronic version, but I like also having a paper and pencil version where I have everything I need (e.g. my to-do’s) in front of me.

3. Step away from the screen

You get people who can sit and work for 3 hours flat out, and then you get people who can only work for 20 minutes before needing a break. I’m somewhere in between. For your own well-being, though, its worthwhile to get up and get away from your screen for breaks on the regular.

Get up and make a snack or a cup of tea. Sit outside for 5-10 minutes. But be mindful that you need to get back to work once you feel a bit refreshed.

4. Play some music

The bonus about being at home is that you don’t have to worry about disrupting other colleagues. I find that if I play some instrumental music through my JBL bluetooth speaker, I don’t really notice the time going by and tasks are done before I know it. I subscribe to Apple Music and have downloaded a bunch of cool, instrumental playlists that I can have going in the background. Spotify is also available in SA now, so you could try that out if you aren’t an Apple fan.

5. “Eat the frog” - or you know, don’t

I have read so many posts that say you should “eat the frog” - i.e. do the task on your list that you least want to do, first -  because all the subsequent tasks will then seem like a breeze. To be honest, if I am feeling really unmotivated, I find that it’s actually easier for me to get into a groove if I start with tasks I want to do. By doing this, I can start ticking things off my list which motivates me to keep going. do whatever works for you - we are individuals after all!

6. Make sure you’re getting your daily dose of exercise

In this post I highlighted how exercise has so many benefits beyond weight loss, and one of them is increasing your brain function. If you can, try starting your day early by taking yourself (and your dog, if you have one) for a quick walk in the morning before you have to start work. It will wake you up, and help you to feel like you’ve already accomplished something before even starting your work day.

7. Get (un)Social


In the past I’ve found that social media can be a HUGE distraction for me when I’m trying to work. It’s super easy to pick up your phone and open Instagram, and next thing you know, 20 minutes have gone by and you’re no closer to completing whatever task you were busy with. Apple has a feature which allows you to restrict screen time on your phone, where you can set it to allow you to use apps only at specific times. Yes, technically you could just switch it off if you wanted to use social media, but at least it would make you more mindful of what you are wasting your time doing. If you use Android, there are apps you can download.

8.  Make sure you start on time (or early, if you can)

I try to be pretty strict with myself about starting work by 8am every day. This is because if I allow myself to be lazy and start later, I’m much less likely to be productive. Setting an intention to start on time and really put in an effort can do wonders for your productivity. If you wake up and feel super unmotivated, try using a Headspace meditation for productivity to get your head right. Remember, if you start early, you can also finish early :)

I hope these tips were helpful. How do you make sure you stay productive when you work remotely?

All my love,