Amy Vigliotti Ph.D.

The Now

Working From Home: Tips to Stay Productive

A helpful guide to managing the challenges of remote work.

Posted May 10, 2020

Kyle Hanson, Unsplash, used with permission
Source: Kyle Hanson, Unsplash, used with permission

As a preventative measure during the COVID-19 outbreak, numerous companies have asked employees to work from home. For many individuals, this will be their first time working from home, an environment that may not promote productivity. In fact, working from home presents its own unique set of challenges and distractions.

As the pandemic continues to unfold, it is still unclear when many people can expect to safely head back to their workplaces. Therefore, we have compiled a list of ways to increase productivity and help cultivate a calm and focused atmosphere while working from home.

Create and maintain a routine: Working and living at home will no doubt disrupt your existing work routine, therefore attempting to abide by that routine may be somewhat difficult. A way to work around this is to be open to building a new routine that accommodates your new reality. Give yourself set times for beginning and completing work each day, so that there is a clear divide between your workday and the rest of your time at home. 

Start your day early: Working from home can be especially challenging when living with others who may require or divert your attention. One way to allow yourself more time to focus uninterruptedly on work may be to wake up an hour or two earlier than your house-mates—but not before enjoying a few peaceful minutes with a cup of tea or coffee. 

Make your workspace work for you: It can be particularly difficult to be productive when working in a space that is usually used for relaxation and comfort (i.e., your bed or couch). One way to manage this is to create or utilize a space better suited to drive up productivity. This can be as simple as working from the kitchen table or as involved as sectioning off an area of a room to set up a home office with a desk, chair, and lamp.

If these options are not feasible for you, don’t fret! You can still get into a focused work mindset just by tidying up your surroundings. If you must work in bed or on the couch make sure to fold the blankets, open the blinds, turn on the lights, and sit upright. 

Reduce online distractions: Working in an unmonitored environment can sometimes cause you to stray away from needed work; it’s easy to log on to social media or explore other websites as a way to procrastinate completing an assignment or simply unwind for a few minutes.

One way to reduce this is by downloading site blocker extensions that allow you to utilize your web browser of choice and block websites that you may deem as being distracting. With blocker extensions (i.e., StayFocusd and WasteNoTime) you are able to block any sites you want for a set period of time of your choosing. Additionally, apps do the same for individuals who work on their phones (i.e., Freedom).

Get dressed for work: Staying in pajamas or loungewear can make you feel too relaxed, which is typically not a common feeling associated with getting ready for work. Getting dressed for the day can help you to set intentions and prime your mind to be in its most productive state. It may also reduce the temptation to slip back under the covers. 

Log off: At home, it can be difficult to establish and stick to an end time, but this kind of boundary is extremely important for both your productivity and your mental health. In your office work environment, there are external cues to help you log off for the day: colleagues leaving, hunger for dinner, a train to catch, etc. Set alerts or alarms on your phone to remind you when the workday is done! Having a healthy work-life balance can prevent burnout and provide you with the motivation needed to get up and do the job again tomorrow. 

This post was written by Khadega Wzaky and edited by Lily Nussbaum and Amy Vigliotti.