A little while back I put out a question box in my Instagram Stories for the Q&A episode of my podcast. This episode goes out at the end of every season and I’m always intrigued to see which questions come through! One of the questions asked was about my top productivity tips for working from home. Specifically, how I don’t fall into the trap of ‘working all the time’. Plus how I balance things out across the three pillars of my business.
Y’know me, I looooove to talk all things productivity tips! Especially productivity tips for working from home now since peoples’ working lives have shifted so much since 2020. 99% of my friends who were previously in exclusively office-based jobs now work at least some of the time from home. And whilst that comes with its benefits—hiii no commute, comfy clothes and saving £££ on lunches out—it also comes with its own challenges.
By now, I kind of feel like a veteran work from home-er. I’ve worked exclusively for myself for the past 9 years, from home. In that time I’ve honed my habits for productivity and hitting that sweet spot of WFH life in harmony with life life.
Below I’m sharing my top 10 productivity tips for working from home, if you have any questions or would like to add your two cents into the mix, drop me a comment!
My Top 10 Productivity Tips
For Working From Home
1. Set working hours, but allow for some flexibility
One of my favourite things about working from home is the flexibility it affords me. Given, I also work for myself, so technically I have full freedom with my time. But in general I like to stick to roughly the same working hours. Here’s why . . .
In my worst and least-productive seasons of working from home, I’ve had very blurred working hours. In my experience, the hours you keep when working from home have a direct impact not only on productivity, but on how you feel too.
There have been seasons, mainly in my early WFH life, when I partook in all of the WFH clichés: waking up at 10, working sporadically, staying in my PJs . . . it felt novel and fun for a bit. But professionally and personally I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be.
I quickly came to learn that being productive when working from home, means working within set-ish hours. And—yes—allowing for some flexibility.
‘Set-ish’ working hours allows me maximise the time of the day when I feel most energised. It also helps me to align my schedule with other people I work with. If I can email back and forth with someone within (roughly) the same working hours, I can get a lot done.
Most days I start my work day between 8.30 – 10am and finish somewhere between 5 – 7pm. The flexibility I give myself allows me to slot non-work things into my life which help me to keep on top of my life admin, and do things I enjoy.
2. Get out of the house before you start your working day
I cannot overstate how impactful this habit is to my productivity when working from home. And to my overall wellbeing.
It’s so easy when you work from home to sleep in, snooze, and roll over in your bed, pick up your laptop and get to work. For me, that isn’t conducive to a productive working day. Or to feeling good within myself.
When I used to commute (wayyy back when) to a fashion internship in London, I would have a 2.5 hour journey to the studio and back. Though the commute could be taxing (on reflection, it was gruelling), it allowed me time pre-work and post-work to gear up for—and wind-down from—the day.
My time pre-work is precious. A good morning routine sets me up for a good working day.
As part of that, I like to get out of the house for a morning walk. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen my many many morning walks. There’s science to back the positive impact of this: a morning walk can help to regulate your circadian rhythm—ensuring that your energy peaks in the morning and wanes as you head to bed. For me, taking a morning walk is meditative. It gives me headspace I wouldn’t otherwise get if I started working without it.
Getting outside before your working day also helps to stave off any ‘stagnant’ feeling that can occur when WFH. If I don’t get out in the day I get serious cabin fever!
3. Define your working space
As I write this post I’m currently typing away at my kitchen table. You don’t need a home office to define your working space, but you do need a zone which is resolutely yours to work from. Even if that changes day to day.
Having a defined WFH space allows me to distinguish between ‘work’ and ‘home’. When I’m at ‘work’ that’s my focus. I communicate this to my husband Oli, so that he knows where I’m working from on any given day. He respects that space if he’s home in the day too.
In our last apartment I had a home office, and in our new home I’ll likely set up a space in one of the spare bedrooms. But even with a defined space on the kitchen table, I can get into ‘work mode’ more easily, which makes me feel more focused and productive.
Essentials of a defined WFH space inc:
- comfortable chair
- good-height desk/table
- good internet connection
In my experience, that’s basically it!
I will say that keeping the space you WFH from clear of clutter and clean can go a long way to helping you ‘get in the zone’. Or at least that’s the case for me. I struggle to concentrate if I can see domestic tasks which need my attention. With that in mind, if I need to move a pile of laundry to another room just so that it’s out of my eye line, I will. Out of site, out of . . .
4. Have strict boundaries with technology
This goes hand in hand with having set work hours and a defined working space. Technology allows us to be contactable 24/7. But in order to be productive, I find that I need to have boundaries around my use of technology.
I power up and power down my laptop within my working hours. The same goes for social media (see below).
Technology, and blue light specifically, can mess with our circadian rhythm—tricking our bodies into thinking it’s ‘daytime’ when it’s time to start winding down for bed. I circumnavigate this issue in part by limiting my screen time once my working day is done. And in part by using blue light filtering glasses. I usually wear these from around 8pm onwards (two hours before I go to bed).
By having strict boundaries with technology, I find that I’m really ‘in’ my working day when I’m working. And it’s almost like I ‘leave the office’ when I close down my tech.
5. Have strict boundaries with scrolling
If, like me, social media is a part of your work, it’s easy to excuse scrolling as ‘research’ or ‘community building’. The truth? Most of the time when I find myself scrolling I’ve just been sucked into the algorithm. It’s addictive.
On days when I’m energised and my mind is clear, I can be in and out of my apps as needed. But on days when I’m tired or I’m just not feeling that focused, I can easilyyy lose myself to the scroll. This annoys me and then I feel bad for having ‘wasted’ time.
It may sound extreme, but to create a boundary around scrolling, I set a timer to get in and out of the app.
6. Stock your fridge
Howww much time is wasted buying last-minute ingredients for lunch?! Or stressing about what’s for lunch bc you’re not prepared? Or missing lunch and then getting hangry and tired at 3pm? Just me?! 🤣
A well-stocked fridge makes assembling a tasty nutritious WFH lunch so much easier and efficient. And on that note! Do take a lunch break! Even when you’re at home. It’s so important and you’re entitled to it.
I like to do a big food shop 1 x a week, and top up outside of work hours if needed.
If I can, I like to take a short walk after lunch too to help with digestion and blood sugar levels, both of which contribute to better productivity in the PM.
Go-to lunches of mine include: avocado toast, soup, a ‘left-overs bowl’, pasta, salad . . . anything easy to assemble, quick to make and nutritious.
7. Use the ‘Health Home Hustle’ to-do list
Every day I write a to-do list using three headings: ‘Health’, ‘Home’, and ‘Hustle’, in that order. (And yes, I really do live and breathe this mantra, ha!)
This allows me to ensure that the things I need to do for my health are at the top of my list, and are therefore my top priority. Items which go under the ‘health’ heading daily include: walk, sleep, nourish.
Home things come second, so that I have a good grip on my domestic tasks and personal commitments.
And Hustle comes third. The ‘Hustle’ heading is usually the one with the longest list, and I try to organise this by priority using Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle.
This to-do list keeps me on track with my personal and professional commitments.
8. Treat yourself
I 100% believe in peppering your days with things that make you feel good, and things that you enjoy. Why save happiness-boosting things for special occasions? You deserve moments of joy every. single. day.
Things I do to improve my experience of WFH:
~ buy weekly flowers so that I have something pretty in my eye line; as a Libra rising moon—I can feel Oli rolling his eyes—my immediate environment is so important to me
NB: I buy my flowers from anywhere and everywhere: wholesalers, foraged, the supermarket, my local market . . . they’re all great sources
~ make good coffee at home, I love the Starbucks Nespresso house blend coffee pods
~ slack off! Yes you read that right, if your working schedule allows for it, slack off from time to time—it’s one of the benefits of being in charge of your own time! Sometimes I go against everything I’ve written above and work from bed, or take a day off altogether, or go for lunch with a friend. If you can define your own hours, and your manager/boss won’t penalise you, sometimes THE most productive thing you can do in a day, is to give yourself a break. Invariably I feel more productive when my own batteries are topped up!
9. Get ready every. single. day.
I’m certain that almost every WFH productivity article circa 2020 recommended ‘getting dressed’ as a key tip. And whilst it may sound obvious and repetitive, it’s cited so often for a reason.
Getting ready for my working day helps me to get into a work mindset. And this helps me to be more productive.
Even if I am not seeing another soul for my entire working day, I’ll ensure that I’m wearing an outfit I like, and which if I were to be meeting with someone, I’d be happy to be wearing.
Plus, you never know when an on-camera video call may be dropped into your diary! Better to be prepared.
I love following Lydia Jane Tomlinson for outfit inspo, and keep a ‘saved’ folder of looks on Instagram for easy reference.
10. Have a close-down ritual
And so here we are at the end of your uberrr-productive WFH day 😉!
Just as a morning ritual is important, so is a close-down one. This allows you to reinforce your boundaries (see #3 – #5) and shift into ‘home time’.
For me, closing down my work day means packing away my laptop, notebook and other technology, and putting these things into another location out of eyeshot.
Then I clear up any mugs, glasses and rubbish from my working day. And move onto a task which is entirely non-work related. This could be a walk, laundry, cooking . . . I try not to head straight to the TV or scroll my phone as I like to create a break between ‘work screen time’ and ‘home screen time’.
A shower, bath or skincare routine can also be a really nice way of creating a definition between the working day and the evening. I also tend to get changed at this point into my pyjamas or some comfy clothes.
Again, having a clear start and stop time to my working day, allows me to be more productive and focused during the hours that I am working from home.
What’s your take?
Honestly, I did not know that I had 2k worth of words to share on productivity tips for working from home 😂
But I know that I feel a great sense of achievement when I wrap my working day, knowing that I’ve given it my best, and ticked a fair lot off of my to-do list.
Working from home can be amazing, I absolutely love it. And I hope that if you too are a fellow WFH-er looking to make the most productive use of your time, that the tips above can be of help!
Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or comments below! I’d love to hear your take!
Love, Monica x