A working from home set-up

How to be more productive if you're struggling to work from home

Posted by for Careers

Are you finding it hard to keep on top of things while you’re working from home? These simple tips from a careers expert could help you to structure your day and boost your productivity.

For those people who had never worked from home before the coronavirus pandemic, the last few months have been a bit of a guessing game. Alongside adapting to a new way of life, we’ve had to find out what works for us when it comes to organising our days and communicating with our colleagues.

It’s no surprise, then, that so many people have struggled with their productivity levels over the last couple of months. Of course, it’s OK to be less productive than usual at the moment – after all, we are living through the middle of a global pandemic – but it can still be stressful to feel like you’re not putting your best foot forward when it comes to your career. 

So what can we do to make ourselves more productive while we’re working from home? On top of making sure we’re taking care of ourselves, getting a good night’s sleep and ensuring we’re maintaining a proper work/life balance, creating a routine which gives your day structure is a great idea. But how do we do this?

“My best advice is to do what works for you based on your personal preferences and your current set-up,” explains Lenka Lutonska, a mindset and business strategist and author of Energetic Selling And Marketing. 

A desk
How to be productive while working from home: make sure your schedule reflects how you work.

“If you respond well to more structure then you can try things like creating an hour by hour schedule, only checking your emails at a designated time and batching your tasks, e.g. spending time on only one type of activity at a time.”

She continues: “If you are someone who benefits more from a bit of structure, then you could try creating an hour by hour schedule so that you know exactly what you’re meant to be doing each day. I recommend ‘eating the frog’ as the saying goes, and doing your most important or difficult tasks first. The more you put something off, the more you are likely to procrastinate. If you can get your important task out of the way you’ll start the day with a sense of achievement and things can only get better from there.”

Alongside this, Lutonska explains, there are two key things we can do to ensure we’re staying productive throughout the day:

1. Create a short term focus

When we’re trying to get a million things done at once, it can be difficult to make any significant progress – especially when we’re outside of the productive office environment.

Instead of trying to manage lots of different tasks throughout the day, Lutonska recommends creating a short term focus so you’re able to get one thing done well.

“I will put my energy into strategising and coming up with ideas for one particular thing, so I get a lot done in a short frame of time,” she explains. 

Creating a short term focus might also include switching off your notifications and going offline for an hour or so to ensure you’re not disrupted.

“I don’t always do this, but if I have something important I’m working on, I’ll turn off all my other distractions and make sure that I only check my email or social media at designated times,” she adds. “This allows me to focus fully and stops me going down the social media rabbit hole!”

A woman working from home
How to be productive while working from home: creating a short term focus allows you to achieve something in a short period of time.

2. Fill your cup first

If you’ve been struggling to find motivation during lockdown, you’re not alone. Without people around us to bounce off of and interact with, it can be hard to feel motivated and creative when doing our work.

Lutonska recommends overcoming this by “filling your cup” before the day begins – doing an activity which makes you feel motivated and inspired to get going.

“It’s not uncommon that I start my day with a bit of gardening,” she explains. “Then, whatever I do during the day, my ideas flow and my brain works faster. I feel that’s the main thing when it comes to productivity.”

All you have to do to get started is pick an activity which makes you feel great, whether that’s going for a run or cooking yourself a tasty breakfast. You could even fit a bit of your chosen activity into your lunch break to give yourself a midday boost. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.