How to stay productive when working from home (and maintain your sanity)

During the recent events of the global COVID-19 crisis, many of you have been forced to adapt your working environments. Some of you may be working from home for the first time after your workplace has changed its set up in light of recent events, and some of you may be used to working from coffee shops or workspaces that you no longer have access to. 

For many of us, these changes have been sudden and left us in a position where we have to adapt in order to keep ‘business running as usual’. 

From experience, working from home is a completely different kettle of fish, especially when you are used to working in an office environment where there are structures, set lunchtimes, set clock-in/clock-out times and sometimes a hefty set of eyeballs on you making sure you are being productive. 

Needless to say, if you are fortunate enough to have maintained your working role during this time of uncertainty, adapting to a different working environment is a small price to pay. 

I believe that as humans we have a greater skill to adapt than we usually give ourselves credit for.. And this change doesn’t have to road block your goals or dreams. 

After starting my transition 7 years ago from working in an office for somebody else, to working for myself from home and launching Card Genie, I have learned a lot on how to make working from home effective.. AND how to maintain my sanity! 

I will share the most valuable keys I have learned along the way with you now. 

Put hurdles between you and your biggest distraction - Social Media

“Nobody is watching.. Go ahead… Open up Instagram for the 10th time before lunch”.. Says the gremlin of distraction in the back of your mind. I will not bash social media as it is a powerful tool for us to connect, create and learn... But whilst we have work to do, we can easily end up on the winding road of The Feed and an hour later wondering where the heck the time went. 

It is just way too easy to pick up our phones and get scrolling. But how can we make it less likely to happen? Here are a few quick tips to get you going:

  1. Put your phone on flight mode and keep it in another room.. Or even your car!
  2. Delete social media apps from your phone
  3. Use social media blocking apps like Freedom to prevent immediate access. 

Work from home

Always, always, always plan your day before it starts

If you are used to structures that are set during office work hours, losing those structures can mean productivity slides straight out the window. 

Any form of uncertainty can take us away from the most important things we need to get done that day and we can find ourselves feeling fried without much to show for it. The easy way to take control of this is to plan for success upfront. 

The morning is the most powerful part of the day to ensure that you plan to win and maintain a good mental state. 

Each morning, before you start working, identify:

  1. Your main projects for the week so you can keep them in focus
  2. The top 3 things you need to get done that day for success towards those outcomes
  3. The list of work-related people you need to get back to, or check-in with
  4. Your break and lunchtimes - It is super important to stick to regular breaks to avoid burnout

Get dressed and ready as if you were going out

I noticed a huge difference in my energy levels and productivity when trying to work in my ‘home clothes’. There is something about the clothing I wear to relax in that just does not promote my highest levels of productivity. 

I found that getting showered, dressed and ready as if I were going to the office put me in a frame of mind where I was ready to get things done. As for working in your PJs… That’s the quickest way to end up curled up on the sofa having a nap! Work from Home

Mark your territory 

Carefully choosing a designated workspace in your home is super important. Not all of us have the luxury of a home office space, but scope out your home and have a think about where you feel you will be able to get most done. 

Don’t forget to communicate this to everybody else in your home in order to set agreed expectations and boundaries upfront. You may find that a particular spot works for a few days and then you feel the need to move elsewhere. Just make sure that the spot you choose is comfortable and gives you the best chance at concentration. 

Set expectations 

As mentioned in the above point, it’s really important to set expectations and boundaries with the people we live with whilst working from home. Let them know when you are clocking in and clocking out from your work duties. 

If you work best in a quiet environment, have an open conversation about the importance of this during certain hours. Try and come to necessary agreements as early on as possible in order to avoid any issues coming up later. 

Set a hard stop

I learned this the hard way… But it is really important to draw the line on when you will stop working, as you could easily end up working longer than necessary. Setting a hard stop time means you will take the hours you have dedicated to work seriously. 

You may be less likely to waste time or allow distractions as you know you will be done by a certain time.

Some of you have a specific time you would clock out of the office. This is no different. Overworking yourself can just lead to stress and burn out, which is not sustainable in the long run. 

Do you have any tips for staying productive and sane whilst working from home? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. 


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