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How to Be Productive at Home: 9 Practical Tips

Working from home comes with a lot of perks but also a lot of distractions. Read on for nine pointers about how to be productive at home.

If you’re like most of us, working from home is the dream. Remote work comes with loads of benefits that can give you more control over how you live your life. But if you don’t get much work done when you’re supposed to be working from home, it won’t be sustainable. The trick is to boost your productivity using easy strategies and hacks so you can live the work-from-home lifestyle as long as you want.
It’s not easy to actually be productive at home, especially if you don’t have a designated home office and routine. It’s normal to ignore your to-do list when you’re closer to the TV than to your coworkers or boss. But with a few helpful hacks, you should be able to kick your productivity into high gear (or at least get it moving again).
We're here to help with some practical tips that even a first-time remote worker can use to boost productivity. So keep reading to learn how to get more done at home so that you can free up time for the things you actually want to do.

9 Productivity Tips and Hacks for Remote Workers

If you believe everything you see on social media, joining the ranks of successful people who work from home means ditching your pajamas for a professional wardrobe and effortlessly checking off your to-do list each day. But here in the real world, it's normal to go through some trial and error as you figure out your work-life balance — especially when work and life happen in the same place. These nine tips can help you find that balance and boost your productivity.

1. Set your work schedule

Scheduling makes it much easier to learn how to be productive at home. Of course, you're no longer commuting to the office, and your hours are (hopefully) much more flexible. But a solid work schedule can really increase productivity and help you get more done at home.
We get it—setting a schedule is tough when you have roommates, children, or a spouse to work with. But it does help you set boundaries with the people in your life. So try to keep your work schedule close to what it was (or would be) if you worked in person.
Unless you live alone, you might need to pick your hours wisely. For example, maybe start a few hours before everyone else in your home wakes up so you can get some quiet time.
It helps to put your schedule somewhere you can see it. Then, talk to your family members, roommates, and friends about your plan and set some boundaries! It’s not mean or rude to let them know that you can't be interrupted during these hours. After all, if you were at the office, your spouse or friends wouldn't be poking their heads in to chat. The same rule should apply to your home office.

2. Make time for yourself

If you care about your mental health (and you should), you’ll need a good work-life balance. Make time to do things you want to do, like hanging out with your family members, grabbing drinks with friends, or working on a hobby. Block out times in your daily schedule to do these things, and more importantly, don’t forget that they’re just as important as work.
Creating boundaries around "you-time" protects your wellbeing and makes sure you have things to look forward to. You can even sneak you-time into your workday with something like a five-minute walk around the block every hour. This break will help you get some fresh air and keep your spine happy.

3. Create a daily routine

You'll need a new daily routine when you start working from home. Once you have your work schedule and you’ve blocked out personal time, map out your days each week. And don’t forget your weekends to make sure you're prioritizing time for yourself.
If outlining a daily routine sounds tough, a day planner or whiteboard can make it more manageable. Or, save some money and print off free weekly calendars.
Try starting with a healthy morning routine for your personal life, which might mean taking a walk, reading a book, or doing yoga. Next, maybe you make a rough plan of what the typical workday looks like.
Your workday could start with making a to-do list while updating your planner and end by quickly cleaning up your desk and office space. A clean-up routine means you have a tidy desk when you sit down the next day, so you’re ready to hit the ground running.
Then, after your workday, you’ll need a healthy end-of-day routine. This could include exercise, seeing friends, walking the dog, spending time with family, or something else entirely.
All that’s left is to follow your daily routine as well as you can each day. It’s tough, but by giving your brain a pattern to follow, you'll start to make it easier to actually focus on work. Plus, routines can boost productivity and help you keep a solid work-life balance.

4. Design an office you love

Design an office you love
If you work in a home office that you love, it’s way easier to sit down and focus. Start with a clean office desk with enough space for you to move around. And be sure to add a comfy, ergonomically designed office chair.
Ergonomics can help you maintain proper posture while you're working. Plus, good posture throughout the workday can help reduce back and neck tension, neither of which are conducive to a productive day.
It’s tempting to sit at the table in a dining chair and call it good. While this might be OK for short-term situations, don't do it if you're working full time at home. Full-time work could mean spending upward of 160 hours per month in your office chair. And that's a lot of time to sit at a workstation with poor ergonomics!
Ergonomics aside, don’t forget to add artwork and personal touches to your office. Or head to Pinterest to find some home office inspo. And if you feel like your office is missing something, spruce it up with some accessories.

5. Designate a specific office area

It’s no fun to work at home if you don’t have a designated work environment. Carving out a productivity spot helps you separate your personal and work lives. Plus, it helps family members remember to respect your work hours and office space.
Don’t sweat it if you don't have a separate room for a home office. Instead, find a low-traffic zone that's out of the way or someplace you can close off from the rest of the home. When you're carving out a place, consider using room dividers or privacy screens, even if you live alone. A physical barrier between your work environment and home environment will help you focus until the workday is over.
Pick a spot where you can keep your workspace set up with anything you need during the day. If you’re always getting up for each thing you need, time management can become harder than it needs to be.

6. Block out extra noise

For most of us, listening to your kids tear up the house, the neighbor's dog barking, and the construction noise from outside is the opposite of a productive day at home. Too much noise is linked to decreased productivity, whereas less noise could increase your ability to focus by up to 50% while helping you feel less stressed.
Even if you're lucky enough to live in a quiet neighborhood free from distracting noises, soundscaping your office could still be worth it. Listening to calming, lyric-free music can increase your productivity and cognitive performance. 
Noise-canceling headphones, earbuds, or a small speaker on your desktop can help you block out the extra noise so you can focus on work. Just make sure you'll know if your phone is ringing with a call from a coworker or customer.

7. Make a to-do list

It helps to know what you're doing when you sit down to work, so make a to-do list before each workday. For example, you might do this for the next day before you shut down your workstation each evening. Or you could make the to-do list part of your morning routine when you first arrive at your desk.
Whatever you do, make your task list clear and easy to understand. Break things down into small steps if you have trouble starting big tasks so they feel easier to complete.
Finally, consider "eating the frog first," which means getting your most difficult task done first each day. This might take some planning, like rearranging your video calls, but it will be worth it. After all, studies indicate that most of us perform our best during the late morning and early afternoon hours.

8. Make a not-to-do list

A not-to-do list is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a list of all the things you shouldn’t be doing when you’re supposed to be working from home. Procrastination is much easier when you have your favorite time-wasters at your fingertips and no boss to randomly pop in to catch you scrolling.
List any social media apps that you spend too much time on, as well as things like clearing your notifications or texting friends. As a rule, if you know that you should prioritize work over something else, you should probably save it for your free time after work.
The tasks on your not-to-do list need to go into your daily routine before or after work. It’s easier to focus during the workday when you know you'll get a chance to check your social media and text your friends at the end of the day.
If you find yourself reaching for your not-to-do list items during the workday, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, try a browser extension designed to block access to specific web pages or an app blocker for your phone. There’s no shame in restricting your access to particular sites. It’s just a way to make sure you don't accidentally check social media when you're supposed to be writing a white paper.

9. Stop multitasking

It’s oh-so-tempting to multitask when you have a to-do list in front of you and your home life all around. Bouncing between replying to work emails, feeding the dog, and cleaning the dishes might make you feel like a boss. But unless your job or personal working style relies on multitasking, it might be best to stop this habit.
Unfortunately, the human brain has evolved to focus on one task at a time. It might surprise you to learn that your brain can’t actually perform two tasks simultaneously, which means that it’s forced to switch between tasks instead. And switching between tasks can lower your performance since it costs mental energy each time.
If you just can’t give up multitasking yet, be on the lookout for signs of burnout, like motivation issues, stress, sleep problems, lower efficiency, poor focus, and decreased quality of work. It’s tough to enjoy all the benefits of a remote lifestyle when you’re stressed, tired, and unfocused. Don’t you owe it to yourself to focus on what works best for your brain?

How to be productive at home every day

productivity toolbox on a standing desk
If you use even half of these nine tips, you should be able to figure out how to be productive at home no matter what you do for a living. And with all nine tips, you'll have a healthy schedule, good boundaries, time for yourself, and a list of things you should (and shouldn't) be doing during your workday.
Working from home and improving your productivity is an ongoing process. Use the tips and tricks that work for you, skip anything that doesn’t fit your style, and try out different hacks to improve your focus. And don't worry: it will get easier with time.
The more days you spend following your schedule and getting things done, the easier it is to find a rhythm. If you catch yourself fidgeting from aches and pains throughout the day, it's probably time for a new office setup. Use our Design My Office feature for personalized recommendations based on your height, workday length, and more.

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