As new waves of the pandemic continue to wax and wane, you’ve probably found yourself working from home once more– or perhaps you never stopped! As much practice as the last two and a half years have given us, it can still be a struggle to be as productive at home as you might be in a formal office. We may not be able to make the cat get off your keyboard or keep your toddler from turning the wifi router off and on again, but we do have a few tricks to improve your productivity when you work from home.

Standing Desk

Sitting at a desk all day can make a person go a little stir-crazy, especially without the break-up a commute affords. While Zoom conference calls may not allow you to get up and walk between meetings, you can break up the monotony with a standing desk converter. Rather than balancing your laptop on a precariously tall stack of books, you can buy one of these simple platform setups online for a little over a hundred dollars. Stretch, walk around, and stand up straight during meetings to keep yourself going and gain a better camera angle for video calls.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Chances are, you’re not the only one home! If quiet hours aren’t as soundless as you wish they’d be, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones to block out the noise or listen to music. Many people find their concentration improves while listening to classical music or the like, and even if you’re someone who can only work in silence, these headphones “listen” to the sounds around you and emit an opposing frequency to literally cancel out the incoming noise. You can even find wireless earbuds with noise-canceling capabilities if over-ear headphones aren’t your style.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

Your brain learns to associate different activities and emotions with different environments, so it’s important to set aside a dedicated workspace however you can. As tempting as it might be to sit on your bed or attend meetings in your PJs, this can negatively impact your focus and productivity as your mind struggles to discern between the mixed signals. Train your brain where to work and where to relax to increase the ease of both as well as the transition between them. Whether that’s working in a separate room or simply setting up a couple of manilla folders on the dining room table as partitions, it’s key to distinguish your workspace.

Take Exercise Breaks

Just like the standing desk, you’ll find it easier to focus on work if you keep your body relatively active. Take five-minute breaks every hour or two and use the time to grab some water, a snack, or fresh air. Make sure you actually stand up and walk around– don’t just pick up your phone and start scrolling. Do some stretches, take a quick walk, or take the opportunity to get some household chores done. Brain breaks are more important than you’d think, and you’ll more than make up for the “downtime” in the long run.

Draft a Schedule– And Stick to It

Structure is crucial! Along with having a dedicated workspace, it’s important to create a schedule for yourself each day. Stay organized, and try to discipline yourself by sticking with your plan. Keep track of your goals, deadlines, and appointments, but don’t forget to schedule five-minute breaks every hour or two and set aside time to transition between meetings. If you have a hard time resisting temptation, or just need a bit of extra motivation, set timers and alarms on your phone as mile-markers. The more structure you can give yourself, the easier efficiency and productivity will become.

We hope these tips help you increase your productivity the next time you work from home!

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