Working remotely comes easier to some than to others, and there are important considerations when deciding if you’re a good fit for a telecommuting position. Currently, however, many people are being thrust into remote work by the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time, and it looks like this will be the situation for at least a few months to come. This presents unfamiliar challenges, which is why we thought this a good time to share some tips for productively working from home.

Of course, different people have different work styles, different distractions at home, and even differing levels of susceptibility to those distractions. And so, everyone has to test out different tricks and routines to find those that are personally most helpful. But there are definitely tips for productively working from home that are widely applicable, and they’re a good place to start when trying to adapt to telecommuting.

So, whether you’re new to remote work due to changes forced on us by the COVID-19 virus, or you’ve taken on a remote position once the crisis has passed, use the following tips for productively working from home to make sure you stay on top of your workload and thrive in your position. Again, some may be unnecessary for you personally, but pick out the ideas that resonate most, or that address issues you’ve already been experiencing.


How to Stay Productive While Working Remotely

  • Find a designated place to work in your home where you are best isolated from potentially distracting sounds and activity, and make sure everyone else in the house knows not to disturb you during work time. Also, think of where you situate yourself and how it will affect you; for example, do you function best in front of a window with sunlight streaming in, or are you prone to staring out it and getting lost in the view?
  • Create a plan with your family if you have a spouse, partner, and/or kids at home with you. This might include things like a schedule of when each adult is on child-care duty, who’s making lunch for everyone, when you can and can’t be disturbed, whether you and your significant other can work in the same room together, and so on.
  • Establish your schedule and stick to it. Be careful about getting sucked into work after your expected working hours. People can be especially prone to this when they’re eager to look like they’re on top of things because they’re working remotely. Log off, close the laptop, and do whatever it takes to create boundaries that prevent your work life from bleeding into your home life.
  • Set timers so you know when it’s time to start and stop working. It’s easier to lose track of time without the cues around you that exist in the workplace. This includes timers that tell you when it’s time to have lunch or take breaks; see the next tip.
  • Take breaks during the day. Working straight through the day without pause deprives you of chances to stretch, clear your head, and return to your tasks refreshed with more energy and renewed focus. Spend at least a few minutes out side here and there.
  • Get dressed for work. Sure, working in your pajamas or underwear is the cliché about one of the best parts of working from home, but it prevents a lot of people from successfully getting into the right mindset. If you struggle to start working or to be productive and haven’t been getting dressed, give it a shot.
  • Maintain a prioritized to-do list each day to help keep you on track and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Eat in the kitchen, not at your desk. It’s helpful to keep your work space dedicated to work. Plus, it’s easy to get distracted for an extended time if you’re sitting there using the internet recreationally or playing a game while you’re eating.
  • Keep your desk and the surround area of your work space free of clutter.
  • Keep online distractions like Facebook, Twitter, news pages, etc. closed while you’re working. These easily pull your attention away and suck up more time than you realize. There’s none of the inherent accountability at home that comes from possibly having co-workers or your boss seeing you off-task.
  • Close your email and turn off your phone notifications and computer alerts while you need to focus.
  • Rediscover the lost practice of making phone calls when you need to speak to someone. This is often more efficient than sending emails, texts, or other messages back and forth, and it keeps you from having to watch for notifications.
  • Use a dedicated work-only browser if your usual browser has bookmarks, open tabs, notifications, add-ons, or other potential distractions.
  • Don’t try watching TV while you’re working. If background music helps you work, go for it; if it’s distracting, keep it off even though you may be enjoying the freedom to blast it.
  • Take good care of yourself and be attentive to your personal life once work time is over for the day.

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