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7 Easy Tips to Increase Productivity While Working from Home

The work-from-home experience can be a welcome change from your daily commute to the office but there can be plenty of challenges to face even in the comfort of our own homes. You can become your own worst enemy with a lack of accountability and daily routine along with the distractions from your family members, roommates, children, pets, and anyone else staying home with you. By laying out some ground rules and structuring your day, you can create a productive work environment to limit the distractions and keep yourself motivated to stay on task. Here are 7 tips to help you increase productivity while working from home.

1. Dedicate an Ideal Workspace

computer on a desk

Now that you’re working from home, having a dedicated workspace is almost a luxury in and of itself. Some might have a dedicated office room within their own homes but many, including several of us at Kingston, must make do with what we have whether it’s working from a kitchen countertop or using any flat surface we can find as a makeshift desk.

Whatever situation you’re in, try finding a spot in the house and turn it into a dedicated workspace. It could be your room or your kitchen. Maybe even your living room. As long as you choose a spot that gets you away from the distractions and lets you focus on your work.

Don’t play where you work and don’t work where you play. Keeping a clearly defined boundary between where you relax and where you work is key to creating an environment that makes you feel like it’s time to work and get things done.

The goal is to separate your work and home life even if you’re working from home. Drawing that line between work and relaxation by dedicating a space to get work done will help you stay productive while limiting your distractions.

2. Structure and Prioritize Your Work Day

When coming into the office, there’s a natural rhythm to your day that helps you create a routine. All the little preparations that you do behind the scenes to start your day help with developing a personal schedule. Your morning routine before your commute into the office allows you to mentally prepare for your workday.

Laptop computer on a desk

That routine has changed since transitioning into working from home. You no longer have structure that requires you to do certain things by a certain time. Creating those boundaries is critical in maintaining your mental health before becoming burnt out or overworked.

Try creating a schedule that clearly defines your working hours from your home life. If you work better in the mornings, try optimizing your schedule so that you’re always maximizing your productive work hours in the morning. If you work better later in the afternoons, center your schedule around the afternoons so that you’ll perform your best every day.

Also, don’t forget to take your breaks. Especially your lunch break. It’s important to maximize productivity during your work hours but it’s also equally important to take breaks to give your body and mind a rest. Though working from home might give the impression that things will be less stressful, you can easily overwork yourself which is why taking your breaks in full is important to a healthy and productive work schedule.

3. Leaving the “Office” End of Day

Clock

You might be under the impression that working from home establishes more work-life balance. Since you’re already in the comfort of your own home it’s easy to get caught up in your work and never “leave for the day”. Keep track of time and give yourself the opportunity to wrap up for the day and leave your work behind.

Knowing that there’s a finish line will help you maximize your work hours to be productive. If you just sat there working endlessly with no end in sight, you’ll most likely be overworked and burnt out without accomplishing anything. Daunting projects and tasks with impending deadlines will loom overhead if you don’t set boundaries.

When at the office, it’s easy to be reminded when it’s time to go home when everyone is packing up and getting ready to leave for the day. When you’re at home, there’s no collective reminder that tells you that it’s the end of day. You don’t have to get off work at the same time every day but setting those boundaries to define your working hours and out of office hours will help you leave your workspace and unwind while giving you time to prepare for the next day.

4. Utilize the Right Tools

Communication and collaboration are now more important than ever since everyone is working individually from home. Many of us are using video and audio calls to stay in touch with our co-workers and to hold meetings and check-ins. Some essential tools like a proper keyboard and mouse, USB adapters, monitors, mic and headphones can go a long way in helping you stay efficient and productive without worrying about minor hassles.

Top view of a desk with a computer

Besides your laptop, having an extra display monitor adds more real estate to your set-up. You can have different programs and apps open at the same time along with multiple windows on your screen to makes things more manageable and convenient.

Using a full-size keyboard and mouse add more comfort while working for long periods of time in front of the computer. It might not seem like much but using a full-size keyboard and mouse rather than your laptop’s keyboard and trackpad can improve your productivity by making your workflow faster and more comfortable.

Also, using a headset for your video and audio calls can make all the difference. There are wireless headsets that come with Bluetooth connectivity, so you don’t have to worry about extra cables and wires. You also don’t need a separate mic since most headsets includes a mic. Some are built-in while others can be detachable.

A few of our favorite work-from-home products include encrypted USB drives and the Nucleum USB-C Hub. An encrypted USB drive makes it quick and easy to transfer data back and forth between devices and it also provides exceptional data security to safeguard your information. If you absolutely must go into work to retrieve files, consider an encrypted USB to keep data safe.

Nucleum is the one hub to rule them all. It allows for use of a mouse, monitor, USBs, and even power pass through to charge your connected devices. Bringing back functionality with all the accessories you’ve grown to love with your notebook – making it the perfect companion for creating your ideal work-from-home space.

5. Communication is Key

People in a video chat on a laptop

Communicating is essential when it comes to working from home. Communicating with your co-workers on projects and keeping them updated with tasks and availability is important to keep up a smooth and easy work-from-home experience.

The goal of working remotely is to still feel connected despite being isolated from the rest of your co-workers. There are plenty of apps and tools that are designed to help you stay in touch with team members and using the right ones that work for you and your team can make all the difference in staying productive at home.

At Kingston, we use Asana and Microsoft Teams to stay in touch and manage our projects and tasks. When it comes to communicating and facilitating work details, we use Microsoft Teams to chat and hold video conferences. To manage tasks, we use Asana which allows us to upload and share files, assign projects and schedule deadlines.

We also use Zoom to host fun social events such as game night and happy hour. It’s a great way to stay connected and socialize with our team members during off-hours for a chance to engage in fun, team-building activities.

Dog at a computer

6. Limit the Distractions

Working from home is no doubt a more comfortable experience but that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal working environment. Distractions are one of the biggest challenges when working from home. Everything you’re looking forward to after work is now readily within arm’s reach. It’s hard enough to stay focused at work but it’s even harder at home.

Attending to other tasks during your break time is okay such as throwing in a load of laundry or whipping up a quick snack but be careful of how much you let yourself get distracted. Avoid engaging in activities that will take up too much time and focus.

Setting timers for any breaks you take can help you from getting sidetracked and remind you when it’s time to get back to work. Since our co-workers aren’t in the office with us to hold us accountable, it’s important to put more effort into cutting out the distractions.

7. Socialize and Engage

Laptop user in a video chat holding a beer

Since working from home, we’ve lost a lot of the social interactions we’re familiar with that help break up the monotony of work and keep us social. We no longer have the small talk and unique occurrences that kept our day feeling less mundane and somehow made the end of the workday come quicker.

To work around the distance, talk to your co-workers through messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams or through video conference programs like Skype or Zoom. Little interactions and social check-ins can go a long way in feeling less alone and isolated. Stay in contact with your co-workers and maintain healthy social relations with your team.

All of this doesn’t have to apply to just your co-workers. You may not be able to physically meet up in person but organizing a virtual event to catch up with your friends or relatives is a great way to stay social and engage with others. Even though we’re at home, it’s still important to reach out, connect, and share our lives with one another.

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