I worked in a busy office for 6 years, with many volunteers coming in and out everyday. Going from this environment to working from home full-time was a difficult transition, not only in terms of staying focused (there are so many distractions at home that only seem to be distracting while working and not while watching Netflix) and but also in terms of remaining productive and developing creativity and innovation (particularly if you have an extroverted personality). In today’s climate, working from home is easier than ever- but also comes with its own unique challenges. Here are 9 tips we’ve learnt keep us productive, creative and innovative while working from home.
1. Know it’s OK to take a break
At a time when there is so much uncertainty, stress and anxiousness can increase. While we wanted to provide some advice for those who are able or choose to work from home, we also want to emphasise that it is OK to take a break from work if you need to. Don’t feel guilty or anxious if you find you need to take a break, or if you feel (or are) less productive or creative than usual. Looking after our mental and emotional health is so important to do, epecially right now, so ensure you take a break from work when you need, and engage in activities which help you relax and care for yourself. Your value is not dependent on your productivity, or your ability or capacity to work or create! For tools to look after yourself, check out our self-care blog here.
2. Create an ideal office space
Keep your work space and personal space separate. Ideally your workspace should be clutter-free, with minimal home distractions, and mentally stimulating. If your workspace is an office or separate room, keep the door closed, and remove anything that others in the household may need to access (if you aren’t also using it). If you are working from a shared space, use earphones to block out distracting noises, and position yourself out of the eye line of Also ensure you take all work-related resources and tools into your workspace at the start of the day so you don’t have to get up to find them and become distracted by other activities in the house.
3. Set a daily schedule and goals
It is so important to continue setting goals for yourself while working from home. Being at home may make you feel more relaxed, so ensuring you set a daily schedule will help keep you focused and on track with your work.
4. Create a playlist
For those that need some outside stimulation, creating a motivating playlist or finding one on Spotify or YouTube. Depending on my task and mood, fun, party-type music can motivate me or classical music helps me focus and hone in on a task. When I’ve been sitting down for too long retro beats help me shake out the nervous tension to get back to work (check out our Retro Playlist here). But don’t take so long creating your playlist that you’re distracted from your actual work!
5. Dress for work
Dressing in your regular work attire will help you from becoming too relaxed as you work from home. We automatically feel more laid-back at home, so dressing as if you’re at work will help you subconsciously stay focused on your work.
6. Set aside times to stretch
We have learnt to do a quick stretch at least every hour while working, as sitting in one place (especially hunched over a computer) can cause muscle shortening and pain which can lead to health issues and even injuries. Working with others in shared office spaces often means you have short, unintentional breaks where you may need to take some paperwork to someone or have meetings. These are great to keep your muscles from stiffening and becoming tight. When working from home you have less reasons to get up, so schedule in some time to stretch and move around out of your chair. Here are some easy stretches to do in a small space which will get your blood pumping again and help you rejuvenate and get focussed back on work.
7. Include some plants
Plants in workspaces are both physically and mentally beneficial. Not only do their clean the air in a workspace, they provide mental stimulation which encourages general well-being and creativity, and even boost productivity by 15%! Check out some of the best plants for workspaces here.
8. Brush up on your skills and knowledge
Working from home means you gain time because you don’t need to commute to work but don’t use that time to sleep in (or do, if you need it!). Instead read a book or blogs during this time to help you improve your knowledge in your field, or take a short online course. That said, it’s also an excellent chance to do things you enjoy for fun- read a non-work related book, take up an old hobby you may not have had time for, cook yourself a fancy breakfast or take an online course in something you’ve always wanted to learn about!
9. Stay connected with work colleagues and friends
Especially for those who are extraverted, working from home can make you feel isolated and unstimulated. Prolonged times of working from home without human contact can have a negative impact on mental well-being, so ensure you keep in contact with your work colleagues and friends. Schedule short online meetings to stay up to date with others in regards to projects and deadlines, and make phone calls instead of emails to relay information (with a follow-up email to ensure a paper trail of course). Also stay in contact with friends, but remember to limit your social media use during business hours!