In the wake of COVID-19, you’ve probably found yourself working remotely more often, or even full-time. The hustle and bustle of a busy, crowded workplace is no longer the norm. Instead, we are turning homes into offices and apartments into Zoom conference rooms. If you aren’t used to remote work, it can be difficult to get things done in an environment that is usually reserved for out-of-office activities. In an effort to help others find joy in remote work, I’ve compiled a list of ways to improve productivity while working from home. 

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Mikey Harris, Unsplash

1. Wake up early 

It can be very tempting to sleep in all morning when you have nowhere to be. However, this makes it very difficult for the day to feel like a normal, efficient work day. To combat this, make an effort to set your alarms when you would normally get up to go to the office. This will help you get a jump on the day and leave you with so much more time to complete everything on your schedule. It’s also important to figure out when you are the most productive throughout the day. Find out when you work at peak productivity and schedule meetings or appointments during the times when you aren’t as motivated. 

2. Create a to-do list

Whether you use sticky notes, a journal, an agenda, or a fancy scheduling program, taking the time to put your goals for the day into words can help to hold you accountable and encourage you to actually check off your tasks as you finish them. Try time blocking certain tasks and moving on from them once the time is up to keep yourself on track and accountable. There’s a certain satisfaction when you can finally check off your daily to-do list!

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Mathilde Langevin, Unsplash

3. Designate a work space

Though it can be tempting, try not to use your bed as your new desk space. It’s important to separate places of rest from places of work. Find a nice corner of your house, apartment or room to set up a desk area – and make sure it’s somewhere you want to sit or stand at if you’ll be working there a lot. Try to choose a space as far as possible from distractions like kids, animals, the kitchen, and the TV so you won’t be disturbed throughout the day by the activities of the rest of your household.

In addition to this, you can purchase the same items you had on your office desk like notebooks, a laptop stand, or even a second monitor so you can get an optimal amount of work done at home without sacrificing these essentials. If it makes it more appealing to you, feel free to decorate your desk or position it by a window so you can look outside and away from your screens. 

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Djurdjica Boskovic, Unsplash

4. Take breaks

Make sure to take some time for yourself – this is a stressful and confusing time for everyone. Try to get up and go for a walk around the neighborhood or the city if you’re able to or read a book that’s been sitting unread on your coffee table. Make it a point to schedule time for your normal lunch break as well as multiple breaks throughout the day so you aren’t burning out from too much screen time. Do whatever it is that will make you take a deep breath and relax – you’re at home. Stay awhile. 

5. Find safe workspaces around town 

Sometimes you just want to get out of the house, which is perfectly understandable. Try to find a nice place to work outside of your home, like outdoor tables at a local coffee shop, picnic tables at a park or a safely distanced co-working space. According to NewScientist, ambient noise, such as the clattering of plates and the whir of a coffee machine, improves performance and can therefore increase productivity. 

Apart from that, sometimes concentration is contagious. It’s often easier to focus in and ignore distractions like social media or the newest Netflix shows when you’re in public and not in the privacy of your own home. If you see someone next to you in the coffee shop is hard at work, you are likely to want to work hard, too.

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Toa Heftiba, Unsplash

These are just a few simple ways to hopefully help you adjust and enjoy the work from home lifestyle. It could also be fun to jump on new trends like posting your “WFH outfits” or your desk setup on your Instagram stories or even your daily walk around the city when you take a breather. Try to remember to be gentle with yourself through it all – life is strange these days, and we’re all adjusting as best as we can.