How to Stay Productive Working from Home

It seems like more people are buying into the “digital nomad” lifestyle. Pack your laptop, manage job responsibilities, and work at home from the comfort of your living room. Sounds like a dream, right?

Aside from blogging, my “day job” allows me the ability to work at home. While I’m grateful for the freedom and flexibility, I know it’s not for everyone. Even my husband would go completely bananas if his office was at home. He loves the change of scenery, routine, and work-life separation.

Me on the other hand? I’m a big fan of wearing leggings, throwing in a load of towels, and reheating my coffee for the eighth time as I sit down for a conference call. Over the past year and half of working at home, I’ve learned (and sometimes struggled) to find the balance between working, living, and truly being productive.

In this post, I’m sharing a few tried and true tricks for ramping up productivity when your “office” is mobile. Whether you’ve got a rigid schedule or work a few hours as you please, I hope these tips are helpful!

Work at Home productivity tips

Rise and shine with a morning routine

Not having to commute saves hours per week. It’s a huge selling point when you work at home! But just because you don’t have to get ready, doesn’t mean that it’s best to roll out of bed fumbling for your laptop.

Getting up early, just like I would for a normal commute, was a hard adjustment for me. (Especially in early parenthood with nights of interrupted sleep. You win, snooze button..) But scrambling to wash my face, get dressed, and fix breakfast all before I signed on to work left me feeling frantic.

Waking up slowly and even getting in a bit of self-development or reading time before the workday helps create a much healthier rhythm. Use the extra minutes to look over your schedule for the day so you know how to crush your to-do list.

Embrace time-blocking strategies

Oh, Instagram feed – you can sabotage even the most productive remote worker. Did you know that some research shows it takes almost 30 minutes to get back on track once you’ve abandoned a task?

No wonder I meant to text my mom then look at the clock an hour later and I’m downloading coupons to my Kroger app. Yikes.

Time blocking is when you set aside a dedicated amount of time to finish a task. No breaks, no interruptions, just work. It sounds a bit intense, but it actually saves time. This is because you’re cutting out all of the wasted minutes you would normally spend on social media, looking up dinner recipes, or otherwise procrastinating.

I started using a small digital kitchen timer to pace my tasks, and it works wonders! It was eye-opening to see how much time I was using up on the really simple things I needed to get done. When you can see those seconds ticking away, it’s even more motivating.

Set the environment for your work at home life

Honest #WAHM (work at home mom) confession – one side of my living room couch looks a lot more worn than the other. It’s the result of way too many work days curled up in one position, probably under a blanket balancing a cup of coffee precariously on the armrest. And while I’d like to think that’s the best spot, productivity happens when the environment inspires you to hunker down and work.

One of my resolutions this year was to make more use of my actual office. Lisa Jo from the Art of Simple also recommends using a desk or dedicated area that helps you get your game face on. I’m still working on making mine feel cozier (hence the new essential oil diffuser!)

I also love what my friend Natalia at Sweet Heritage Company did for her office. She used a blank spot in her kitchen and a creative shelving solution from Ikea to plant a workspace in a spot that worked well for her and her family during busy days. (You can also meet Natalia in my last post!) This goes to show that even if you don’t have a separate home office, you can create an environment that you love to work in.

Make choices simple

Part of the work at home life includes more freedom to decide how you spend your time. But sometimes, too much flexibility leads to counterproductive hours spent on small daily decisions.

I was literally astounded when I heard two of my favorite blogging mentors (Alex and Lauren from Create and Go) say that they ate the same lunch for days on end when they started working from home. Why? Because deciding what kind of elaborate meal to cook took up way too much of their work time!

Even though I’m not super rigid with my meals, I do have much more effective days when I plan out things like this. What I’m going to wear or eat, when to take needed breaks, the days that I need the sitter to stop by. I can take the stress out of busy days by knowing how to keep things simple.

Establish good work at home boundaries

This one’s important for almost all of us, work at home life or not. Email, Slack channels, and project management apps are easier to access than ever before. (Check out Google’s Digital Wellbeing for help on staying productive with boundaries. It’s awesome!)

As a working mama, sometimes post-bedtime work is necessary if we’ve had a crazy day. I’m thankful for the flexibility to squeeze in a few projects or messages when I can, but I also know how important it is to have separation to give my mind a break.

For our family, this looks like carving out “no phone” time as much as possible between the hours of 5:00 and 7:30 each night. Since we’re all together, we want that time to be more about dinner and laughs than about responding to anything. We also try:

  • To fully embrace the weekends as much as possible
  • To truly unplug on the days we take off from work
  • Seting our phones physically out of reach when we need to

Believe it or not, it boosts productivity to have dedicated work time, as well as time to rest and recharge. Find the balance that works best for you!

So what about you – do you already work at home or hope to work remotely one day? What tips help you stay productive?

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22 Comments

  1. May 28, 2019 / 2:58 pm

    I am so glad I read this. I am struggling with some aspects of productivity! I love your tips on time blocking. Trying it right now!

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 28, 2019 / 3:41 pm

      So great to hear, Trish. I’m glad the post was helpful. Nice to meet you! 🙂

  2. May 28, 2019 / 11:04 pm

    Parks worked from home for a year and swore by getting up and showered into his real clothes and drink coffee before sitting down

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 29, 2019 / 7:52 pm

      Hey Erin! Yes, definitely feel a difference when I do that! Now that we’re getting a bit more sleep it seems more realistic 😉

  3. May 28, 2019 / 11:42 pm

    It is very true what you say, you can lose a lot of time if you are not organized at home with your work and you focus on the task you have to do. great post!

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 29, 2019 / 7:52 pm

      Thanks so much, Alexa! I appreciate you stopping by!

  4. May 29, 2019 / 10:34 am

    Love this and I laughed out loud while reading it sitting on my side of the couch curled up with a blanket with my coffee in my hand. What’s sad is I have a full office. I go back and forth between working on the couch, working in my office or working on my back porch.

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 29, 2019 / 8:14 pm

      Haha, yes! Love that, Amanda! 🙂 I will say that being able to work from the back porch is a really nice perk!

  5. May 29, 2019 / 1:00 pm

    Working from home can sound almost like a dream, but you know well that sometimes it gets complicated. Worse if you work on your own.
    Nobody is going to punish you because you stay up late or because you wear pajamas all day, but probably your homework habits affect your goals making you feel bad about everything. I’m going to try all your tips, they are super helpful!

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 29, 2019 / 8:13 pm

      Thanks, Lina! It takes some discipline, for sure. I appreciate you stopping by the blog!

  6. May 29, 2019 / 1:23 pm

    Loved the “Making Choices Simple” how to…I recently realized that I don’t need to always cook extravagant meals…it has simplified my cooking life as a mom 👍

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 29, 2019 / 7:51 pm

      Hi Meri- I totally agree! Embracing convenience as a mom has been a huge help, especially when it comes to food!

  7. May 29, 2019 / 4:26 pm

    I like the idea of time blocking. I am at home during the day but the day seems to fly by and the next thing I know it is time for my child’s school bus to arrive home. And I agree with the instagram and facebook , for me, stealing away my time and attention. But I am getting better at it. Right now, I have too many side gigs to learn about that is blocking my time.

    Glad you have found your way to be productive. I’m still working on making my time more useful but I do love the freedom of being at home.

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 29, 2019 / 7:51 pm

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for visiting! I am definitely in the same boat as figuring it out. We have some crazy days that don’t go according to plan, for sure 🙂 It’s good to know that I can fall back on these things when it gets a little hectic. So glad you’re enjoying being at home while working!

  8. May 29, 2019 / 11:34 pm

    I’ve definitely found that when I have the right environment, I’m more productive! I do a lot better when I’m working down at my desk, rather than on my couch or from my bed

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 31, 2019 / 8:44 am

      I agree, Amberly! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  9. May 30, 2019 / 10:58 am

    I work from home too. Putting on makeup in the morning really makes me feel ready to start the day. And getting a shower. I like your ideas and will have to try the time blocking. I probably could use that!

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 31, 2019 / 8:44 am

      Great to meet you, Annie! Actually getting ready (even with makeup) is one thing I’d like to get better at. Helps the productive feeling, for sure!

  10. May 30, 2019 / 3:57 pm

    Great tips! I really need to stay away from the couch (or my bed) more. It’s hard to resist the temptations! LOL. Thanks for sharing.

    xoxo Lani

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 31, 2019 / 8:43 am

      So true, Lani! Those comfy spots pull me in every time 🙂

  11. May 31, 2019 / 9:43 am

    These are great tips! I very often get so sidetracked, that it ends up being a day or two later that I actually finish a task. I need to try the time blocking that you suggested.

    • Write One Week
      Author
      May 31, 2019 / 2:16 pm

      Thanks, Kendall! I’m sometimes the queen of getting sidetracked 😉 So I understand. Hope you enjoy the time blocking trick!

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