How to be productive when working from home

Having worked from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco to the Pacific shoreline of Mexico and now in remote farm country in the far south of New Zealand, the digital nomad life has been nothing short of rewarding. But it’s certainly not for everyone. Whether you’ve decided to embrace the gig-economy, become a digital nomad or are involuntarily forced to work from home, here’s a sound checklist to make sure you can be as productive as possible in your new office environment.


Before you begin your remote life

What’s your plan? Write it down.

Being self-motivated during this tenure will be your strongest skill. Can you fulfil the requirements of your job in your new environment? How will you continue to collaborate with peers? Do you have access to the tools and resources you need to manage and complete tasks? If not, what actions can you take to make it happen?

Having a written plan is an underrated phenomenon. While on the surface it may seem menial, a strategy will keep you honest and help you answer questions about how genuinely productive you can be working from home.

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself before you begin working from home:

  • What are the challenges I may have working from home?
  • What impact do these challenges have on my daily productivity?
  • How can I overcome these limitations/challenges?
  • Do I have access to data and resources to complete my tasks, as I would if I were in the office?
  • What do I love most about working from home?
  • What does working from home enable me to do that otherwise, I would not be able to do?

Already at home?

  1. Establish an office-like space.
  2. In your first week of working from home, make a list of the tasks you would like to achieve daily and weekly, just as you would typically do in the office. After one week, measure your success rate.
  3. Write down your wins.
  4. Note what times you feel most productive. Conversely, note periods of lull and distraction. Review this after week one. Follow this schedule in week two to see if it holds true.
  5. As unusual as it may sound, with no imposed breaks or obvious distractions, it might be easier to burn yourself out working from home. Make sure you allocate time for break periods. It does not have to be conventional lunch or coffee breaks. You’re at home now, so choose your time-off when you actually feel like clearing your head or need some fresh air.
  6. Exercise during the day. Remember, it doesn’t have to be before, during lunch or after work anymore. Fresh air at 3:30pm with a coffee is great, but fresh air during a workout at 11:00am without a coffee, is unbeatable and a great way of revitalising your mood.
  7. Do the things you’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t get across to doing because you had to commute to work! Working from home/being remote must be something you enjoy and not because you just want to get away from the office. So make sure you’re doing the things that make you happy.

Red Flags:

  1. Cheating yourself! This is a big one. Ultimately, if this is the lifestyle you want, you need to be honest with your employers, but more importantly, you must be honest with yourself. Refer to the ‘Ask yourself’ section.
  2. Wearing your pyjamas while you’re working. It sounds great but you’re sending the wrong message to yourself. Just like they say if you can’t sleep, don’t lie in your bed, otherwise your body will habituate to being awake in that bed. Your body is used to comfort and lethargy in your pyjamas, so don’t wear them to work.
  3. It’s not a holiday. You’re at work. Type it. Print it. Stick it.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is currently experiencing unprecedented and uncertain times. Conventions are being tested through unorthodox workplace policies, like employees being asked to work from home. Working from home can be unsettling, especially while tasks continue to build up as you acclimatise to your new environment. These suggestions and tips will most certainly get you back on the horse and on track to meet your productivity goals in no time.


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