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Working from Home – 5 Top Tips for Staying Productive

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When you’re working from home, it can be difficult to keep your work and home life separate. Whether you’re used to working from home or whether it’s a new experience for you, we’d like to share our top five strategies for maximising your productivity and keeping your head in the game.

Prepare your workspace

Firstly, carve out an ideal place to get in the zone. Keep it free from clutter and make sure everything you need is in there, so you don’t constantly need to leave to fetch this or that. If you have a lot of distractions, a dedicated workspace is also a good way to set boundaries with your family – if I am in here during these hours, please do not disturb me.

Some people like to retreat to a study and have perfect peace and quiet. Others prefer a bit of background noise and may work better with music or a favourite movie playing at a low volume. You may want a lighter, brighter space to wake yourself up, or a darker, snugger space to hole up and concentrate. People work differently – there’s no ‘right’ way to go about it – so find the best working conditions for you and stick with them.

Get a uniform

Some people choose to wear a ‘uniform’ to work at home – they have comfortable, generally smart-casual clothes which they only wear when they are working. By wearing these clothes instead of staying in your pyjamas or throwing on a t-shirt and trackies, you mentally train yourself to know that when you are wearing your work clothes, you need to work.

Time management

In a world of distractions, time management has become an increasingly hot topic. There are many apps, some of them free, that you can use to track the time you spend working. (You can also use your phone or computer and log your times in a spreadsheet.) Decide how long you’re going to work for and set the timer. Keep track of how much you are working each day and week. It’s a great way to stay accountable – you’re timing yourself, so there’s no value in cheating the system.

Rewards and restrictions

Give yourself little rewards for working a certain amount of time. Rewarding an hour or two’s work with fifteen minutes of a TV programme, a phone call with a friend or a nice cup of tea can help you to stay motivated and break up the day.

A variation on this is the Pomodoro technique, where you work for increasing periods of time and take short breaks in between.

If you work better with restrictions, some apps will blacklist certain websites for set periods so you can’t use them when you’re meant to be working.

Target setting

A work day always runs the risk of growing nebulous – we have many tasks to do, sometimes even too many! When things get busy, it can be hard to know what to work on first, and easy to flit between easy tasks rather than do what needs to be done. That’s why various forms of target setting have been used by successful businesspeople and politicians for a very long time, and are being shared more widely in the modern day.

Prioritise your objectives so you know what needs to be done most urgently. Based on this list, set three to five targets for the day. Then work to complete all of those targets before the day’s end. Make sure your targets are achievable so that you won’t become demotivated.

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