Working from Home Tips to be Productive

10 Tips for Being Productive While Working from Home

Here are 10 tips for being productive while working from home with screaming kids and a dog that won't shut up.

We've all heard by now that the best way to slow down the spread of COVID-19 is to practice social distancing. This data model from the Washington Post does an excellent job of visualizing the potential spread through personal interactions during your workday.  

With social distancing comes the need to work from home... and most likely alongside your bored children, a needy dog, and equally stressed-out-trying-to-focus-partner. For many, this is a new frontier, riddled with discovery and a Herculean test of self-discipline as we are sequestered to unfinished basements, cluttered living rooms, kitchen counters, and various other nooks and crannies that were formerly filled with random paperwork.

I was working remote for years before starting NeoPangea, which is how I maintained my sanity. These organization and productivity tips will really help:

  1. Set a home routine that is close to your normal workday and stick to it. No exceptions. I have found that even sleeping in for 15 minutes added stress and anxiety. If you know me, I have plenty of that already. ;)
  2. Get dressed and shower. Just because you’re working from home, you don’t have to be nasty. You'll probably be on Zoom video calls at some point, and we'll start to notice the sheen you're acquiring.
  3. Work in a “home office” away from chores and family. At the end of the day, leave this space to disconnect from work.
  4. Set an alarm for lunch. I found that if I didn't remind myself to eat, I'd start to get angry around 3:00 and my efficiency would plummet. At that point, it was easier to skip lunch altogether, and by the time dinner rolled around, I was burning with the rage of 1,000 suns.
  5. Get even more organized than you are now. With remote work, it's easy to get overwhelmed and off track. Make a list and focus on each item one at a time. Make a list for your kids - include chores, activities, things to read, and goals for their studying. Limit their electronic use to a specific, formalized schedule, too.  Organization is key. Without it, they'll bug you all day for more time, and eventually, you'll cave in order to make the nagging stop. Their minds will ultimately melt into a pixelated chasm of memory loss, resulting in failing grades and those stinking brats living in your basement for eternity.
  6. Try video calls instead of phone calls. Working remote in your home office can get pretty lonely, so hop on Zoom or another video conferencing platform. 
  7. Try to avoid meetings and Slack in the mid-day zone, between 11 and 3, so that you can laser-focus on your own work. It can become a bad habit for coworkers to Slack each other all day nonstop, and then around mid-day, you'll realize that you've gotten nothing done. Soon, people will realize that some meetings and Slack conversations could have been emails.
  8. Take a 10-minute break at the same time every day to refocus. When you work from home, consistency in the time of day will help you establish and maintain a home routine.
  9. Check-in and communicate. With remote work, the last thing your team wants to do is wonder if you're working or behind in your duties.
  10. Plan now as if this were a 4-8 week quarantine. I still predict that we won't be working from the office for at least a couple of weeks, so let's plan projects, meetings, your routine, etc. as if we are in this for more than a month. Embrace productivity tips (because embracing each other isn’t allowed right now). Then, when it's over, let's throw a party and eat all of our stockpiles of food! Maybe we can use the toilet paper hordes to decorate the town's trees.