Stuck at home? 5 Tips to Actually be Productive When You’re Working From Home

As the national government has raised the COVID-19 alert to Code Red Sublevel 2 and placed the National Capital Region (NCR) under community quarantine to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), companies are encouraged to offer work-from-home options for their employees. While the zero commute time, the ability to work in our pajamas, and flexibility over our work schedule may sound like a dream; working from home also has its challenges. First on the list are the interruptions from children, family, neighbors, and friends that may be very disruptive to our work process.  As someone who has worked remotely for a decade, I’m sharing some tips on how you can stay productive while working from home:

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1. Make yourself a home office setup. 

Keep away from your bed or couch while working. Taking your laptop to work on your bed or maybe plopping down on the couch in front of the television will definitely present many temptations.  If you can, make yourself an office, or at least a work station area. Dedicate a space for your work to create clear boundaries between your work and home life. 

Make sure you’ll have easy access to things that you might need to get your work done. You may need to consider access to wi-fi or LAN connection, phone line, or printer.  If you can, invest in a good desk and chair so you’ll be comfortable enough to finish your tasks, but not too comfortable to be tempted to slack off.

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2. Create a to-do list for the tasks you need to accomplish. 

To help you visualize your progress and keep you on task, having a checklist of the things you need to get done can help. Use apps if you need to. Personally, I find using Getting Things Done | GTD Simple Free and Trello helpful in creating task lists. Check out some other FREE apps that help keep me organized and productive here.

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3. Minimize distractions and set limits online. 

We all know how easy it is to get sucked into the distractions of the internet. Working remotely can make this temptation harder to resist. Before you get trapped into unproductive scrolling on social media sites, set limits on when you can wander off on your browser (or your phone!).  When it’s work time, make sure to close any non-work-related tabs and websites. I use the Google Chrome extension Nudge to block (or at least limit my access to some websites). On my phone, I installed the Stay Focused app.

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4. Establish blocks of work time.

I can’t stress this enough: While a work-from-home setup can give you flexible hours, disruptions can keep you unproductive.  To help keep you on track, try to establish your work hours. You may need to follow your previous office hours to keep you in the zone, so to speak. Of course, you can choose blocks of work time that best fit your schedule. For example, if you need to get in 8 hours of work per day, make 3 time blocks of 3 hours, 2 hours, and another 3 hours.  This allows you to have time to take care of other things, like preparing meals for the family or cleaning the house, outside your work time or during your “breaks.”

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5. Take care of yourself. 

Don’t forget to take good care of yourself. Take breaks and keep your mealtimes sacred. Always remember to hydrate and find time to relax. Some also find it helpful to dress as if they were going to work to keep their productivity in check.

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