Working from home was once a rarity. But with strict social distancing measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers have traded in the office for the familiar sights of home.

While ditching the morning commute is an undisputed benefit to remote work, there are also some drawbacks. For example, a lack of oversight might lend itself to unproductive behavior, which can lead to feeling unmotivated, which in turn leads to more unproductive behavior.

To better understand the concept, try to remember Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the movie “Inception.” Remember how he keeps falling into deeper levels of his dreams and risks never being able to get out?

Well it’s a bit like that, if except for entering his dreams, Leo just sat around binging Netflix shows and cat videos on YouTube. But I digress.

The point being, productivity doesn’t have to suffer because you’re working from home. In fact, you may be able to increase your productivity just by following our simple tips below!

Develop a Routine and Stick to it

Wake up, coffee, drive to work, check emails, meetings, lunch, more emails, perhaps more coffee, drive home. It’s a familiar pattern for most of us. But when you’re working from home routines become difficult to develop and harder to follow.  

However, developing a schedule and sticking to it is key, and has been shown to increase productivity as well as nurture mental health.

The easiest way to achieve this is to mirror your regular workday from home. That means wake up at your normal time, and plan to “arrive” to work on time. Once your day begins, set times to check your emails and review deadlines. Take breaks and lunches at the same time every day.  Lastly, maintain regular working hours. While it may be tempting to work late from home, it can lead to burnout, which will make you less productive in the end.

Dress up

They say that if you look good, you feel good. And if that’s true then walking around in pajamas all day must mean you feel sleepy, tired, and unproductive. So ditch the sweats and put on something more professional. Just grab some comfortable slacks, a nice button down or blouse and you’re all set. By dressing up, you’re creating an atmosphere of productivity and professionalism. Of course, comfy slippers are okay.

Turn off Distractions

Recent numbers suggest that over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. That’s an enormous amount of content presented to us — as this infographic shows — and a huge opportunity for distraction. Avoid falling down the rabbit hole by turning off potential procrastinations. Set your phone to silent when in meetings and try to limit texts and calls for work purposes only.

If checking social media is part of your role or you simply must do it, set aside 10 minutes to do so, but then put it away after. These little moments can quickly add up and take up your day. Besides, you can always binge watch Tiger King after work.

Snack Healthy

Eating healthy is hard as it is, but knowing you have a full cupboard at your disposal only yards away makes it that much harder. Even so, healthy snacking has been shown to increase energy levels and focus, so it’s key to staying productive. Instead of chips, reach for almonds, fruits, and veggies. Even better, prepare your meals for the week to save time during each day.

Get Moving

In addition to a healthy diet, exercise goes a long way to boosting energy and focus levels. A quick walk or jog around the block, or a few pushups throughout the day will refocus your attention so that you can work at your best.

And it doesn’t even have to be strictly exercise. Dancing can achieve the same effect. So get up, get down, and get moving.

Take Breaks

While it may be tempting to avoid taking breaks because you’re at home, they are necessary for avoiding dips in concentration. Studies show that we tend to focus on one task in 25-minute increments. Knowing this, try to take a few moments away from your work throughout the day. Use this time to exercise, meditate, or simply to have a breather.

Set Goals

Famed motivational guru Tony Robbins famously said, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” While that may seem obvious, it’s also true. Imagine trying to move to the opposite side of your room. First, you have to decide to do it. Then, you have to move your feet and go. Without either of these, you’re not going anywhere.

It’s the same with productivity. Start by setting a simple, achievable goal for yourself each day. Then execute your plan to get it done, and don’t let anything distract you from getting there. Of course, projects will come up and you will have setbacks. But keeping your goal in mind, and staying flexible, will help you reach your creative peak.

Interact With Your Team

The importance of social interaction has become apparent during the COVID crisis. Just because you can’t go into the office doesn’t mean you can’t see your coworkers.

You can, and should, schedule video chats frequently. These can be for purposes of project tracking, task delegation, or simply to catch up and socialize.

There are plenty of apps that can help you achieve this including:

Tidy up

For years your parents told you to make the bed, and for years you ignored their advice. But it turns out they were right. Studies show that having a cleaner environment  increases productivity, and that having a cluttered physical environment will lead to a cluttered and unproductive mind.

Don’t Stress

Last but not least on our list of 10 habits for staying productive at home; don’t stress. While it’s easier to show your stress working from home, don’t let these feelings overwhelm you. Stress has been shown to decrease productivity and even your immune system. So not only will you want to avoid working, you may get sick and have to.

Working from home is the perfect, comfortable space to try meditation. There a numerous free apps as well as online instructional videos that guide you through the process. But in the end, it’s simple enough and takes no time at all; simply breathe.

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