Working from home is a blessing for some and a curse for others. Surely now with the pandemic, many people are figuring out which category they belong to.

I have been working from home most of my career, and while it fits my ideal completely (setting your own hours, working in your pyjamas, and taking infinite coffee breaks) it can still be a struggle to remain productive.

Without the office camaraderie that you’d get at a traditional 9-5 workplace, you are quite literally left to your own devices. And sometimes these devices lag, need to reboot or just die completely — messing up your entire workflow and efficiency.

Whether it’s your mindset or your equipment, here are some of the best tips to staying productive while working from home.

Tips to increase your work from home productivity

Whether you’ve been doing this work from home gig for a long time or have only recently been thrown into it, these tips will be your lifesaver for staying motivated and productive all without losing your mind or patience.

1. Have a (general) routine

While the freedom of working from home means you no longer have to get up early for the morning commute, it does still require a routine.

One of the best ways to maintain productivity is to work with your own internal clock. For some, starting work in the morning or at a traditional start time such as 9am instantly puts them in ‘work mode’. For others (we’re talking to you night owls!) peak productivity and creativity levels might not hit until later in the day.

Work out when your ideal hours are and try to stick to them.

From there, you can then fit in other aspects of your daily life such as exercise, lunch breaks, and time for relaxation. So, if you prefer to start at 9am make sure you’re at least logging into your computer around that same time each day and then working your set hours with regular intervals for lunch and stretching breaks.

Structuring your day will keep your productivity in check and help to make working from home less of a distraction.

2. Set up your space

One of the main problems people face when working from home is the fact that – err.. – they’re working from home. This comes with many distractions. It also makes it hard to fully get into that working mindset.

To combat this, try to set up a space dedicated to work. Whether it’s a spare room, a desk in the bedroom, the kitchen table, or the lounge suite – create a little nook that helps inspire creativity and incite work.

I find that changing up my space also helps to keep my perspective fresh. It really doesn’t matter where in the house you are (yes, even your bed) as long as it’s distraction-free (TV off, door closed, kids in a separate room) you are all set.

The key to working from home is being comfortable. So choose a space that allows you to settle into your work comfortably. Ensure your seat or desk is ergonomic or get creative by sitting your laptop on some pillows to reduce wrist and elbow strain.

Finally, invite focus to your space by lighting a candle or some incense (citrus works wonders for boosting focus), open a window, and listen to a cafe music playlist on Spotify.

3. Choose a good Internet provider

Documents, video conferences, researching online articles – it all requires fast and reliable internet.

If you’re planning on being a really heavy user of the internet, then you might want to consider an unlimited nbn™ plan.

Once the nbn™ has been made available in your area, you’re going to want to sign up to a plan that gives your home the kind of internet connection you need based on the way you intend to use the internet at your home. For those now working from home, fast and reliable internet is non-negotiable. There is really nothing worse than missing a deadline or losing half your work because your internet keeps crashing.

4. Adjust your screen settings

Ahh, eye strain. One of the perks of working from home or from any job that requires hours of screen time.

While you can’t ditch the computer altogether, you can make it more comfortable to the eyes by dimming your screen’s brightness. This works wonders for anyone who finds it hard to concentrate or who gets frequent eye strain or dry and tired eyes from working on a computer. Most laptops and PC’s have a blue light filter setting that you can switch on while you’re working. Some other people have also noticed benefits when wearing blue light glasses at work.

Other helpful tips to reducing eye strain and computer-induced headaches include:

  • Using a warm compress or eye mask
  • Taking an eye break every 30 minutes
  • Increasing the natural light in your workspace
  • Using eye drops
  • Keeping your computer screen at arms length distance

5. Take (regular) breaks

While it feels like forcing productivity will make us more productive, this tactic usually ends in pain. The key to remaining productive is to ensure you’re also well-rested. While it sounds counter-intuitive, taking regular breaks to exercise, stretch, meditate, read, walk outside, etc. allows the mind and body to relax and refocus.

The simple act of moving around or doing something non-work-related when you’re faced with brain fog keeps you alert and boosts productivity.

Next time you’re caught staring at a blank screen or are lacking motivation, get up and do a workout, wash the car, bake a cake. I guarantee you’ll come back to your work with ten times more motivation and focus than before.

6. Get appy with it

Project management apps, video conferencing platforms, online planners, and ambient noise soundtracks are just some of the many helpful apps for working from home.

There is often a greater need for focus and structure when working outside the office. By utilising software and clever apps branded to help you stay organised and motivated, you are less likely to succumb to the rabbit hole of distractions found in the household.

From internet-blocking programs to stop the Facebook scroll temptation, to apps that remind you when to take a break – using modern technology makes working from home way more enjoyable and sustainable.

When you work from home, you have flexibility. However, sometimes flexibility can swiftly turn into procrastination. The easiest way to maximise your work from home efficiency is to treat your home as if it’s your workplace for the duration of your working hours. Taking regular breaks and harnessing technology to boost productivity is also a key way in maintaining a healthy and well-planned work from home structure. Keeping regular work hours and scheduling time to relax as well as pencilling in work-free days will also help to make working from home less of a struggle.