How to be Productive When You Work from Home

Remote work is growing not only in popularity, but in necessity.

For many, shifting from a traditional work environment to a remote work environment can present challenges. Without the structure and accountability that working in an office setting can provide, it’s not uncommon to end a workday wondering what you’ve truly accomplished.

Here are some tips to help you be productive when you work from home:

Institute “Office Hours”

Unlike an office, when working from home, there’s typically not someone watching a clock to make sure you arrive on time. However, it’s still important to “show up for work” in the same manner you would if you were leaving your home to go to an office. This is an easy way to build structure around your day and shift your mind from being “at home” to being “at work.” In the same manner, determine when you will end each day and set an alarm to do so. It’s easy to get bogged and overworked when you’re working at home because there’s no transition required. For example, there’s no need to catch a train to get home at a certain time. There’s no cue from co-workers to remind you that the workday is ending. Setting boundaries around your day will help eliminate fatigue and allow you to show up refreshed the next day.

Set Consistent Breaks:

Much like setting boundaries around your work start and stop time, it’s also helpful to schedule timed breaks throughout your day to allow your mind to rest and reconnect and to take care of personal needs. By scheduling breaks at various intervals throughout the day, your mind is more likely to focus on the current task, knowing that you have a moment coming up to handle other needs. Timed methods or apps such as the Pomodoro Technique encourage you to take short breaks within an hour, then a longer break every few hours. Short breaks are ideal moments to grab a snack, take a stretch and/or rest your eyes from computer glare. Longer breaks can be used to check social media, eat lunch, or even make a non-work phone call. 

Designate a Separate Workspace (if accessible):

Working in the same space you use for non-work related activities, such as on your couch where you watch TV, can make it challenging to shift from “play mode” to “work mode.” If access allows, aim to designate a portion or your living space to work. This can include setting up a desk, computer, shelving/drawers, calendar, notepads, pens and any other office tools or supplies that can motivate you to feel like you’re “at work.”

That said, for some workers with disabilities, a separate workspace isn’t the best method for getting work done. A primary benefit to working from home is the opportunity to work where it’s most comfortable and accessible. So, if working from your bed is the most accessible way to get your work done, GO FOR IT!

Connect with Co-Workers

For some, the downside to working from home is lack of social interaction. In fact, feelings of isolation can quickly lead to lack of motivation, productivity, and can even affect your mental health. This concern can be alleviated by creating virtual gathering spaces to promote interpersonal connections.

Below: the Getting Hired team having a virtual meeting.
the Getting Hired team having a remote meeting.

For example, many teams gather via videoconferencing systems such as Zoom or GoToMeeting. Even still, free options like Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and Skype can be used to host meetings and even to gather for “co-working sessions.” Sometimes it’s helpful simply to come together online and work together in silence, with opportunities to speak up to ask questions or share thoughts, much like would occur in an office setting.

Keep in mind, your “co-workers” don’t have to be people who work the same job or even at the same company as you do. It’s likely you have other friends who work from home. Consider asking them to join you while you each get work done and keep each other company.

Finally, check in with co-workers through text-based methods such as internal chat features on platforms like Slack or send a quick check-in email to a colleague.

Celebrate your “Wins!” and Set Your “To-Dos”:

Without affirmations or check-ins from colleagues, it’s easy to end a day questioning your productivity. Taking a moment at the end of each day to acknowledge at least one thing you accomplished – one “win” – can help you stay motivated and can even shift your mindset about the overall success of the day.

After acknowledging your “win” at the end of each day, take time while it’s still fresh to consider where you left off in your work and develop your “To-Do” list/tasks for the next day. This will set you up to the start the next day focused and prepared.

While working from home or other locations outside of a central office is a new experience for some, many workers with disabilities have appreciated the flexibility and accessibility of remote work for many years. Take some time to establish structures and practices structures that will make working from home a productive, positive experience.

For more tips to help you be productive while working from home, reach out to the Getting Hired team.

Contributions to this blog were made by Andraéa LaVant of LaVant Consulting, Inc.