Working from home can be a blessing and a curse—your commute is the best, but working and living in the same space can make it difficult to create separate spaces of work and play. If you’re finding yourself way less productive than you’d like to be while working at home, we’ve got some tips to help you maximize your efficiency and help you hit refresh on your work life.
Establish a morning routine.
Basically, approach each new day as if you were headed into an office with actual people. Get your booty out of bed at the same time, drink your coffee, shower, and get dressed (no pantsuits necessary, jeans are fine—but just say no to all-day lounging in pajama bottoms). Even if you won’t actually be seen by anyone, it’s a head-clearing ritual that prepares you for the day, creating necessary mental distance between home time and work time (the role your morning commute used to play).
Carve out a dedicated office space.
Not everyone has a spare room they can flip into a kitted-out home office, but you need a specific space that signals to your brain (and your fam) that you’re on the clock. It can be a desk in a guest bedroom, a certain chair and TV tray, or even your bed with the door closed.
Get on a schedule.
IRL, this one is a toughie: it’s altogether too easy to hop on your computer first thing while still in bed and get stuck there for hours, kicking off a spiral that feels hectic, unhealthy, and untenable. But if you’re working around a schedule (that includes exercise, meals, and mental breaks), you’ll be able to set regular hours, which helps you organize your day and also lets your clients know when they can reach you uninterrupted.
Multi-task, multi-task, multi-task.
Double up on at-home tasks that need to be done with your work that can be taken out of the “office.” Schedule phone calls during drivetime or your morning walk. And tackle “easy” to dos: checking email, posting to social media, jotting down prelim thoughts about an upcoming project, all while doing low-concentration tasks like boiling pasta or folding laundry.
Equip yourself to work mobile.
Invest in items that will allow you to work on the go. If you have a smartphone, laptop, car charger, and a portable WiFi hotspot, you can work in the backyard, park, or your car.
Identify and eliminate time wasters.
Whether you’ve been known to lose hours to daytime television (damn you, Ellen!) or you find yourself making elaborate lunches that take away from work hours, pinpoint the time sucks, then come up with a proactive plan to nix them.
Employ The Pomodoro Technique.
Developed by a gent named Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, this time-management technique breaks work into 25-minute chunks, interspersed by five-minute breaks (with a longer one midday). Use a timer so you’re not constantly checking the clock, and use your five-minute breaks for quick cleaning tasks like wiping down counters or watering plants (or say screw it and make a cup of tea).