If you haven't read part one of our 19 tips to stay productive while working from home, you can read it here first!
11. Use technology to stay connected.
Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off the larger operation happening in the office. Instant messaging and videoconferencing tools can make it easy to check in with coworkers and remind you how your work is contributing to the big picture.
"Part of what enables us to work from home so much more often now is the array of apps and tools designed to help remove distance as a barrier between team members. Finding the right tools to keep you and your team connected is important for staying productive at home.
At HubSpot, we use Slack to keep conversations going remotely, Trello to keep us organised around priorities, and Google Hangouts plus Webex to make remote meetings more productive. Getting the right stack of support tools to fit your work style makes a big difference."
- Meghan Keaney Anderson
12. Match your music to the task at hand.
During the week, music is the soundtrack to your career (cheesy, but admit it, it’s true). And at work, the best playlists are diverse playlists – you can listen to music that matches the energy of the project you’re working on. Video game soundtracks are excellent at this. In the game itself, this lyric-free music is designed to help you focus; it only makes sense that it would help you focus on your work as well.
Want some other genres? Take them from startup marketer, Ginny Mineo, who offers her own work music preferences below.
“When I’m powering through my inbox, I need some intense and catchy rap/R&B (like Nicki Minaj or Miley Cyrus) blasting through my headphones, but when I’m writing, Tom Petty is the trick. Finding what music motivates and focuses me for different tasks (and then sticking to those playlists for those tasks) has completely changed my WFH productivity.”
- Ginny Mineo
13. Use laundry as a work timer.
You might have heard listening to just two or three songs in the shower can help you save water. And it's true; hearing a few of your favourite songs start and end, one after another, can remind you how long you've been in the bathroom and shorten your wash time.
Why bring this up? Because the same general principle can help you stay on task when working from home. But instead of three songs off your music playlist, run your laundry instead.
Doing your laundry is a built-in timer for your home. So, use the time to start and finish something from your to-do list before changing the load. Committing to one assignment during the wash cycle and another during the dry cycle can train you to work smarter on tasks that you might technically have all day to tinker with.
“It’s already been said but waking up early and getting things done before other people get online works for me. I also usually do laundry when I work from home, and I set mini-deadlines for myself corresponding to when I have to go downstairs to switch loads. If I’m working on an article, I tell myself I’ll get to a certain point before the wash cycle ends. Then I set another goal for the dryer.”
- Emma Brudner
14. Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you.
Of course, you might be working from home but still have "company." Make sure any roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) respect your space during work hours. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're home.
"If anyone else is going to be at home when you're working, they just have to be clear that when you're in your 'office' (in my case, my signal to the family is having headphones on), you're working -- even if it looks like and feels like you're hanging out at home. It's easy to get distracted by the many things that have to be done around the house during the day."
- Sam Mallikarjunan
15. Take clear breaks.
It can be so easy to get distracted as a telecommuter that you avoid breaks altogether. Don’t let the guilt of working in the building you sleep in prevent you from taking five to relax. Rather than just opening YouTube and watching some comfort clips, however, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house.
“Breaks, like making and eating lunch, can recharge you to do better work. Don’t assume you need to be working 100% of the time while you’re home to be more productive.”
- Ginny Mineo
16. Interact with other humans.
Remember: You're working from home, not the moon. Interacting with other people during the day is allowed, even if they're not your co-workers
“Shoot emails over to colleagues throughout the day, give them a random call; don’t work alone”
- Corey Wainwrigh
17. Prepare your meals the night before.
When you're in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a really nice breakfast and lunch for yourself, chopping, and cooking included. Don't use precious minutes making your food the day of work -- cook it the night before.
Preparing food ahead of time ensures you can actually use your meal times to eat, and that you aren't performing non-work tasks that spend energy better used at your desk.
"Cooking at home is time you wouldn't have spent meal prepping if you'd been in the office that day, and I find the minutes can really add up in the end. To mitigate that, I try to cook and prep my meals the night before, just like I would for a day at the office."
- Lindsay Kolowich
18. Pick a definitive finishing time each day.
You might be under the impression that working from home establishes more work-life balance but be careful with that assumption. Working from home can also feel like being at a casino – you can get so caught up in your activity, in a relaxing environment, that you lose complete track of time.
In lieu of co-workers, whose packing up and leaving the office reminds you to do the same, set the alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal work day is coming to an end. You don’t have to stop at exactly that time, but knowing the work day is technically over can help you start the process of saving your work and calling it quits for the evening.
“If you work from home full-time (or on a regular basis), it’s really easy to let your work life bleed into your personal life. Maintaining a boundary is important for both halves of the equation.”
- Tyler Littwin
19. Keep the TV on in the background.
"I spent my first two years out of college, working from home as a freelance writer. Of all the tips, tricks, and secrets I've uncovered for being more productive at home, one stands out above the rest: Putting on the History Channel. No joke. Just keep the History Channel running in the background at a low volume, and I swear, you'll get stuff done. (I'm not exactly sure why this trick works, but I can only assume it has something to do with ancient aliens.)"