As a 100% remote team, we’ve been working from home for many years. If you’re new to working from home and looking for some tips on how to work from home better, you’ve come to the right place! Some of these tips might seem simple or obvious, but it’s the little things that can make all the difference when your home is your office.
Let’s dive in.
How to Work from Home: 10 Working from Home Tips
Implement a “Power Hour”
When you’re working from home, it can be easy to get distracted and hard to get your mind to focus on the task at hand. To combat this, implement a “power hour” at the start of every workday where you set a timer for one hour and work on a task with no distractions. You’re not allowed to check your phone, you’re not allowed to get up and do a house chore—your only goal is to work on your task for one hour.
This power hour really helps to get your head in the game and get your mind focused on work. Since you usually have a physical boundary that comes with having an out-of-home office to go to, this instead creates a mental boundary that can set the rest of your day up for success.
Use the hour to work on your biggest project of the day or the most challenging task on your to-do list. Ideally, aim for a task that you can finish within the hour so you will feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s finished! A little win like that at the start of the day can motivate you to keep that momentum going.
Work in Different Spots
Many experienced work-from-home-ers recommend setting up a dedicated office space that you only use for work so you can create some sort of physical boundary between your work life and home life. Our advice, however, is to actually work from different areas of your house throughout your workday.
Having multiple different spots around your home to work from can help keep your mind and eyes fresh—so switch up your workspace! Keep it moving—try working from different chairs, in different rooms, sometimes sitting or sometimes standing. Work from a desk, a counter, a table, or even a coffee table. Maybe even take some of your work outside, if possible!
Wherever you feel comfortable, take your work there for a couple of hours and then switch it up. A change of scenery can bring a fresh perspective and can make it feel a little less monotonous than if you were to work from the same desk day after day.
Work Near a Window
Along the same line, try to work from a place where you can see out of a window. This is particularly important when you’re working from home because it can quickly start to feel like you’re cooped up within the same four walls. To keep from getting cabin fever and to keep your spirits up with a little bit of sunshine, stay close to a window. Plus, if you’re looking at a screen all day, looking out a window occasionally is a nice way to recalibrate your eyes and mind.
This is a pretty common working from home tip, but it’s worth mentioning because it can be so easy to get distracted when you’re working from home. Since you’re likely working from your mobile phone and computer, mute the non-work related notifications that you don’t need to see during work hours.
Notifications from social media or news sites or apps can completely distract you from your work and derail your productivity, so don’t let that happen. Mute notifications, put your phone on airplane mode, put a limit on the amount of time you can use social apps, and even use a desktop app (like RescueTime) to block social sites—whatever you have to do to keep yourself from getting distracted.
Make Work Hours but Take Breaks
Keeping regular work hours and a routine that works for you is essential when it comes to working from home. It’s easy to let the day slip away if you don’t stay on top of it, so create a schedule that works for you and stick to it. It doesn’t mean that your schedule has to be 9–5, just whatever makes the most sense for you in terms of when you’re most productive and being able to stick to it on a consistent basis.
Taking regular breaks should also be a part of your work hours. It’s impossible to be productive 100% of the time, so don’t try to be. Lots of people who work from home work in 25-, 30- or 45-minute bursts and then have a 15-minute break. This is known as the Pomodoro Technique and it’s a time management and productivity technique that we cover more in-depth in our 20 Time Management Apps to Produce More & Procrastinate Less article. As your day goes on, take progressively longer breaks as your mind will likely need more time to recuperate.
Prioritize Communication & Collaboration
If you’re working from home but still part of a team of people, make sure that you’re still communicating. In fact, over-communicate. Working as part of a team when you’re not physically in the same place can be challenging, so don’t assume that your team members know what you’re thinking, what you’re working on, or what your expectations are—you have to communicate it to them.
Virtual communication takes the place of physical presence for remote teams so do your best to be available during work hours, communicate updates and just generally be on top of things.
Collaboration is another important part of remote teamwork, so use collaborative tools so everyone can be up-to-date and involved. Google Docs where multiple people can contribute, edit or add comments is very useful, or CloudApp where screenshots can be annotated and shared or screenshare videos can be recorded is another tool we’ve found to be useful.
Collaborative tools can help everyone feel less solo, so make use of whatever kind of collaborative tools work best for you and your team!
Put a Time Limit on Responding to Emails
Unless your job is to specifically respond to emails, put a limit on the amount of time you spend responding to them.
Don’t let email communication take up your time because it can be a major distraction from the other tasks you have to do. It can be tempting to get sucked into it, but it will diminish your productivity in the long run and set you back from getting important tasks done.
Pick certain times of day to check and respond to emails—like the mid-point and end of the day—or just set a timer and only respond to as many emails as you can get to during that time.
At the end of the day, if emails aren’t crucial to the success of your work, don’t prioritize them and don’t let them take you away from essential tasks. Spend your time and energy on what is essential.
When you’re working from home, it may seem to your partner, family, friends or whoever you live with that you’re available even for small interruptions, but that can add up to major losses in time and productivity if you don’t set boundaries.
So whether you actually have people at home when you’re working or whether you have people messaging you or calling you about non-work related things during your work hours, let them know that you’re working and that you’ll get back to them later.
You need to be in the zone when you work and if you’re getting interrupted often, it can break your concentration and make it harder to get back into work tasks. Make it clear to the people in your life that distractions need to be kept to a minimum so when you’re in work mode, work comes first and everything else non-essential can wait. It’s up to you to communicate these expectations, so make sure that you do.
That being said, not all of the work you do will need your ultimate focus.
If you’re working on something that doesn’t need your full attention, you can work socially with others either in your physical space or digitally. Just like many office spaces are open social environments, your home workspace can be too—when it makes sense.
So set boundaries when you really need to concentrate or when you need your workspace to be quiet, but don’t think that you have to be shut in your office during your entire workday! Enjoy the company of others if you have repetitive tasks or work that doesn’t need total concentration.
Leave Time For Yourself
Last but certainly not least, don’t get in the habit of all work and no play. When you work from home, it can be easy to slip into working 100% of the time and not leaving time to relax or work on your own projects, so don’t fall into that trap. You’re a better person when you’re fulfilled in all areas of your life, so you need to prioritize non-work related areas of your life, too.
Whether you take time to be creative, focus on your health and wellbeing, chill out, watch Netflix, exercise, cook, or whatever it is that you like to do in your free time, don’t put it on the back burner just because work is so accessible to you. Prioritize yourself and your personal time and shut off from work when you say you’re going to—you’ll feel better for it.
With these 10 working from home tips, you should now have some ideas for how to work from home more effectively! If you’re new to working from home it can take some time to get used to it, so test out each tip to see which ones work for you and leave behind the ones that don’t!
You’re in charge of your own routine so make it work for you.