By Nicole White
If you’re working or studying at home, you know that the dream of having a home office can quickly turn into a nightmare of distraction and an unhealthy work-life balance if you don’t keep your productivity under control. By following some of these simple tips, you can help ensure that your home office is a productive one. Read on, and you’ll learn 100 of the best tips for getting things done at home, whether you’re working or learning.
Keep these tips in mind when settling into your office or learning space at home.
- Set aside a space: Create a designated space, preferably a room to be your workspace.
- Physically separate yourself: Train your mind to set yourself apart from your home life when working: close your door, and separate yourself from the rest of the house.
- Invest in a good chair: Get a mesh backed or leather chair to support your back.
- Pick a quiet spot: It’s obvious, but important. Set your home office up in an area that will be away from the distractions of home.
- Highlight your accomplishments: Surround yourself with the things you’ve done — diplomas, important photographs, and other reminders of your success.
- Create a bright and cheerful environment: Make your home office cheerful to avoid stress and stay happy throughout the day.
- Use a laptop: With a laptop, you have the freedom to work anywhere you’d like to.
- Have a separate computer: Use a separate computer for work and leisure.
- Get out: Go to a coffee shop, the beach, anywhere you can get good work done for a change of pace.
- Put plants in your office: Soak up stagnant air by keeping plants in your office.
- Use caller ID: See who is calling and avoid answering for telemarketers or others who will waste your time.
- Keep a dry erase board: Use a dry erase board to keep your tasks and reminders in easy view.
- Keep things clean: A tidy desk will help control stress and keep you more productive.
- Consider a standing desk: With a standing desk, you can stay more alert and active in your work day.
- Stay away from your couch: Sit at a desk rather than working from your couch or bed.
- Set boundaries: Make sure that those in your home know when you’re working and that you’re not to be bothered.
- Clear your desk of nonessentials: Put away everything you don’t really need.
- Get a great coffee maker: Many people love using coffee to boost productivity, so invest in a high quality coffee maker.
- Use noise canceling headphones: Keep noise and distraction out by using headphones that keep things quiet.
- Use a separate phone: With a separate phone line, you can keep personal calls to a minimum during your working hours.
Practice these good habits to stay productive and happy in your home office.
- Get dressed: Every day, bathe and make yourself presentable enough for a surprise visitor or trip out of your home so you’ll be ready for anything.
- Stay logged out: Avoid logging into IM, social media sites, and other distractions.
- Carefully separate work and personal life: Don’t get sucked into working around the clock when you’re at home.
- Create rituals: Give yourself a daily signal that it’s time to start working.
- Eat first: Don’t fall victim to low blood sugar — eat before you start working.
- Get ready for the day: Practice good grooming — change out of your pajamas, have a shower, and breakfast before you get down to work.
- Commit to tasks: Don’t let yourself slack off if you’re having a rough day, or you may find that you just can’t get anything done.
- Give yourself a weekly review: Every week, take time to think about what you’ve gotten done.
- Use distraction reducing tools: Make use of tools that will clear your digital desktop of everything that’s not important.
- Turn your phone off: Turn off your phone when you need to minimize distractions.
- Simplify everything: Focus only on what really matters.
Use these tips to stay on top of deadlines and coursework.
- Set time boundaries for online use: Limit your online use by setting specific times when you’ll be available to chat and check websites.
- Keep regular hours: Carefully schedule which hours you’ll work, and which hours are personal time.
- Work when you’re most productive: If you’re most productive around 1AM, schedule your most important work for that time.
- Give yourself limits: Always have a finish line for when you have to stop working.
- Do important tasks early: Take care of important tasks before you get hit by the lunchtime slump.
- Take sprints: When your timer is ticking, focus and work in a sprinting mode.
- Schedule fun time: Take time to do the things you enjoy on a set schedule.
- Unplug and work on battery power: Create a sense of urgency to get things done by working on battery power, where time is limited.
- Use timers: Give yourself short times to do a frenzy of work by setting a timer.
- Group your errands: Keep your out-of-office time to a minimum by doing as many errands as you can at one time.
- Keep emails short and sweet: Master the art of the five-sentence email.
- Just do it: Practice willpower and keep yourself on track to just getting things done.
- Be a good boss to yourself: Don’t let yourself become a slacker, but don’t make yourself a slave to work either.
- Give yourself deadlines: Make yourself accountable by setting hard deadlines for getting things done.
- Check email on a schedule: Check email just twice a day to keep it from taking over your online life.
- Get up early: If you start working at noon, you’ll feel cheated and sluggish when 5:00 comes around and you want to stop working.
- Use short bursts of productivity: Give yourself just a small time of focused work activity to get things done.
- Ignore distractions: Stay away from your inbox, Twitter, TV, and other things that demand your time.
- Track your time: Use a time tracking tool to stay on top of what you’re getting done and when you’re doing it.
- Take breaks: Don’t let yourself get sucked into work. Remember to refresh yourself with breaks every hour or so.
Follow these tips to help your organization breed productivity.
- Keep lists: Keep lists that detail daily tasks, hopeful tasks, and anytime tasks.
- Write things down: Write everything down right as you think of it.
- Keep a calendar: Stay on top of what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it.
- Get your to-do list out of your email: Stay organized by keeping all of your tasks in one place.
- Create a tickler system: Use a tickler system to make sure you stay on top of important tasks and events coming up.
- Designate days for tasks: Do certain things on specific days to stay on track.
- Carefully process tasks and information: Have a place for items in your notes and inboxes.
- Keep notes handy: You never know when inspiration will strike, so keep a notepad at the ready.
- Keep files: Minimize clutter by creating simple files you’ll actually use.
A happy work environment is a productive one, so follow these tips to make sure you’re happy with your work at home.
- Go out for lunch every once in a while: Even if you mostly eat at home for lunch, it’s good to get out and visit with a friend or colleague occasionally.
- Remember what it’s like to work in an office: Be grateful that you get to work at home!
- Listen to music: Keep your creativity flowing with upbeat music throughout the day.
- Stop working: When your work is done, leave it and don’t come back until the next day. Make notes for yourself if you need to remember something.
- Work in a group: Study or work with a group of people to support each other.
- Just say no: If you don’t have the time or resources to do a task, just don’t do it.
- Get out and enjoy the weather: Take advantage of your flexible schedule and carve out some time to enjoy the weather or special events that you otherwise wouldn’t get if you were working in an office.
- Do what you love: Do what you love, and you won’t mind working.
- Reward yourself: When you’ve finished an important task, reward yourself with something quick but enjoyable, like a walk around the block or a check on social media sites.
- Watch TV: Take advantage of the fact that you can work when you choose, and do what you like at certain times during the day.
- Develop relationships: Nurture connections and network.
- Make time for others: Respond to emails, and keep in touch with people.
- Remember to be grateful: Say thank you to your clients, coworkers, employers, and other people you may work with regularly.
Follow these workflow tips to keep everything running smoothly.
- Outsource: Whenever possible, get someone else to do work for you, like a bookkeeper or delivery service.
- Stop multitasking: Multitasking is inefficient — focus on one thing at a time.
- Do your hardest work first: Tackle the work that you’d most like to put off early on, so you won’t be dreading it all day.
- Set priorities: Keep in mind the tasks that are most important in order to prioritize your day.
- Take small steps: Don’t try to tackle a huge task all at once: break it down into small, manageable tasks.
- Make your online life simpler: Reduce the amount of time you spend online by simplifying.
- Learn to let go: You don’t have to be a perfectionist — just get things done.
- Make it easy to get started: Give yourself a small way to start up a task.
- Eliminate unnecessary tasks: Just say no to things you don’t really need to do.
- Use technology: Fully utilize web meetings, email, and voicemail to communicate effectively.
- Give yourself daily goals: Have specific goals in mind for every work day.
- Create an action plan every evening: Before you stop working every day, plan out what you’re going to do the next day.
Working or studying from home is a special challenge to parents of young children. Follow these tips to stay productive.
- Hire a babysitter: Consider child care, even if it’s just for limited hours.
- Make naptime work time: Use your child’s nap times to get work done.
- Keep your children occupied: Set up an area for your child to play with lots of toys, or even a mini office for them to imitate you working.
- Take turns: If you and your spouse both work or study at home, switch off times when one works while the other watches over children.
- Work late at night: If your schedule can handle it, get your work done when the house is asleep.
- Manage your interruptions: If your baby starts crying, instead of immediately running to tend to it, take a few seconds to write down the task you were on or the thought you were forming, so you can get right back on track.
Follow these tips to keep yourself healthy and productive while working or learning at home.
- Stay active: Make sure you take time to be active throughout the day, whether it’s a morning walk with your dog, or a trip to the gym.
- Give your eyes a break: About ten minutes of every hour, your eyes need to be away from your computer.
- Keep water at your desk: Stay hydrated and healthy by always keeping water to drink at your desk.
- Fidget: Don’t stay perfectly still when working at your desk.
- Stretch: Sitting at your desk all day or all night can take a toll on your body, so be sure to get up and stretch every now and then.
- Eat a full lunch: Don’t just snack throughout the day; take the time to sit down and have a healthy lunch.
- Stand up for phone calls: Whenever you get a phone call, get up and walk around the house.
- Take a micronap: Doze off for a few minutes and wake up refreshed, ready to tackle your work.
- Be careful not to munch all day: Avoid eating all day while you’re distracted with work: stop to eat instead of multitasking.
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