Making the shift from an office job to working at home involves some adjustments, but it's certainly doable. In fact, telecommuting has become the norm for numerous businesses in recent years precisely because of how beneficial it can be in terms of putting your head down and knocking out your workload. That said, working from home does require a certain skill set that prevents you from falling into common productivity pitfalls. Understandably, there's a learning curve, but the following advice can help you expedite the struggle stage to better maintain motivation and tackle your daily to-do list.
Don't neglect daily grooming
It's easy to sidestep your daily grooming regimen — including showering, brushing your teeth, skincare, and getting dressed — when you don't have to see the world. However, studies have demonstrated that taking time to put yourself together in the morning is linked to productivity.
For example, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology discovered the “influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes," specifically in the case of working professionals. In addition to bolstering confidence, completing your morning regimen creates consistency and signals to your brain that you're ready to begin your workday. Bottom line: save sweats for the evening.
Set and follow constraints
Building off that last point, creating clear beginning and end times for your work week, workday, and specific daily tasks can also boost productivity levels. This is important no matter where you work, but becomes especially important when working from home since time can easily turn nebulous.
According to reviewed studies by the Harvard Business Journal, a lack of constraints allows more room for complacency. It can even hinder the quality of your work since it may lead to procrastination or falling into the “path of least resistance." Setting constraints can be as simple as starting and ending your workday at specific times, prohibiting work on the weekends, and giving yourself hard deadlines for certain tasks throughout the day and week.
Utilize a time management tracker
One way to zero in on constraints and ensure tasks get done is to utilize a time management tool. These can also create more awareness regarding how you spend your workday so you can make adjustments as needed. Time management trackers come in all forms ranging from tangible devices to apps to software programs.
Some well-reviewed options include Toggl, a free browser extension that requires very little action on your part; Timeular, a device that you physically rotate according to how you're spending your time (work, call, email, break, etc.); and Monday.com, a software program ideal for managing numerous tasks, large projects, or an entire team.
It doesn't matter where you're working: productivity's biggest kryptonite is distraction. The fewer distractions you have, the more efficient you'll be. You know what your own distractions are, so our best advice is to identify and squash them. For many, it's picking up our phones or switching tabs on our browser to graze social media feeds or get absorbed in a news cycle. Allocate a set period of time to look at your phone—maybe during a lunch break—but otherwise keep it out of sight.
Other common distractions when working from home include household chores that need to be completed, noises, and others who live with you. Do your best to position yourself in a room where such distractions are out of sight and earshot. Putting headphones on and listening to productivity-boosting music can also help; Spotify has numerous playlists to get you started.