5 Steps to Becoming More Productive Working from Home

Since the start of the Pandemic, we have found our selves working from home more often.  From conversations with many of my clients, I have found that they are struggling with focus while working from home, getting things done efficiently & timely, and integrating home and work life successfully. 

Here are 5 Steps to help you save time and work more efficiently from home.

1. Create a routine

Since many of us are no longer commuting to work every day and working from home, use that “commute time” to transition into work mode.  Create a routine.  I recently had a Zoom call with my brother, Bob, and I noticed he was in a dress shirt and jacket.  He is currently working from home 100%.  I asked him about his formal clothing and why was that necessary if he was working from home?  He said, “I never changed my morning routine, I get up every day, Monday – Friday and follow my same routine as if I was going into the office, including getting into my work clothes.  The routine and clothing are part of my mindset, that says, ‘it’s time to work’.” 

What is your morning routine that says, “it’s time to work?”  Perhaps you no longer have a commute back and forth to work; how will you use that time?  Start a morning meditation practice, exercise or go for a 20-minute walk, or read a personal development book during the time you would normally be driving.  Do something that is productive and growth oriented to set the stage for your workday. 

2. Set your daily “Must Achieve”

Each day, overview your tasks, meetings, projects, timelines, etc.  Often, we can get sucked into mundane or unimportant tasks because we are avoiding a task that perhaps, we don’t feel like doing, or don’t like.  Stephen Covey has a great model to keep you on track every day using a quadrant system. Assign each of your tasks to one of these quadrants. Then, use the action word – DO, PLAN, DELEGATE, ELIMIATE – in each quadrant to handle that task.

In the “urgent and important” quadrant, these are your must-dos for the day.  Choose your “Daily Must Achieve” from your tasks, meetings, projects etc., and get her done!

3. Schedule non-negotiable time blocks

This time is for you to remove all distractions and focus on whatever you choose for that time block.  I try to schedule one of these time blocks in the morning and one in the afternoon. Creating non-negotiable time to focus and get things done is really important.  Put it on your calendar, let your staff, co-workers, manager, and family members know that is 100% focus time.  It is amazing how much you can get done creating these time blocks!

4. Prioritize breaks

Many of my clients tell me they are working more hours working at home!  As a result, they can become frazzled, tired, and physically stiff from all that screen time. Be sure to take breaks, get up, walk around, step away from that screen!  For instance, don’t eat at your desk.  Go outside and take a short walk or simply sit on your patio and breathe in the fresh air and disconnect from technology and doingness.  Get up move, stretch – breathe.  These breaks allow you to clear your head, reset and re-energize.  Experts have found that sometimes taking a break from a difficult project allows us to clear our mind and solve challenges more efficiently.

There’s a time management technique called the “Pomodoro System” that breaks your work down into 25 minute work blocks with short and long breaks between them. Here’s a blog I wrote about using the Pomodoro System to beat procrastination, and here’s a quick rundown of the technique along with links to timer apps that might help you implement the system.

5. Create clear boundaries

Separate your work time from your home and family time.  Create clear boundaries.  Set a schedule and stick to it! Above all, if you make a promise to your family members to do something at a certain time, do it!  It can be really easy to work, work, work!  No amount of money or success can take the place of time spent with our loved ones.  Make them a priority! 

In conclusion, I hope you found these suggestions helpful.  Let me know your thoughts and what is working for you if you are working from home.  What systems and processes have you found are beneficial to you being more successful working from home and integrating work and home life. 

By the way, I am now a certified yoga instructor! Here is a routine for a quick break and some stretches at your desk.  Enjoy!

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