Working from home? Here’s how to stay productive

Romy Les Choses
Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli in Les chose de la View, 1970. PHOTOGRAPHY IMDB.

Remote working is a divisive topic. People either love it or hate it. 

For some, working from home allows for a quiet, distraction-free environment where you can  perform at your own pace. 

For others, working from home is very far from distraction free. A setting filled with family diversions and the niggling sight of a full laundry basket.

Of course, since COVID-19, working from home is no longer a choice for some. And although we've had months in and out of stay at home orders, working from home can still present a challenge for some of us.

Not for me. I've been working from home on a part- or full-time for over six years and I have to say I much prefer it to working inside an office. When I work from home, I find I am twice as efficient compared with working from my office desk. But developing a successful work from home process takes time to perfect.

So, I'm sharing my experience. Here's how I created a my process, and how you can too.


Define a work space

One of the key barriers to working-from-home-success is not having a work space. While not everyone is going to have the privilege of a dedicated home office, it’s important to still carve out an area for “work”.

If you can set up a proper work desk, I seriously recommend doing it. Get an office chair, a two-monitor set up, a plant and a decent desk. You will feel extremely luxurious when you sit down to begin your day. Trust me.

But of course, not all of us have the space. You can use your dining table too. Try to have one particular seat that you sit in when you work and don't use that one when you're eating dinner. You want to keep work and living areas separate, even if it's just a different seat at the same table. It's about mental space as much as it is about physical space.

Ensure you have access to a power outlet to plug in when you need to. Make sure you have a comfortable chair. Don't sit on the lounge. Have a coaster, a bottle of water and your headphones on hand - anything you can do to make this space feel like a place of work.


Don’t keep household chores or clutter in your line of sight

It can be tempting to abandon your work in favour of household pursuits - especially if you can see them. The best way to avoid the temptation to fold clothes and change your sheets while you’re on the clock? Keep these tasks out of sight. Rid your workspace of anything that will remind you of your household chores.

The same goes for any form of clutter. Clutter in your eye line is extremely distracting for the eye and the brain. For example, in my line of work I get a large number of deliveries each week and I do not always have time to unpack and store them right away. As a solution, I have a storage container behind the credenza in my living room where I keep any deliveries during the day to keep my living and work space distraction-free.


Ask your family to respect your need to work

Many of us live with children, partners, brothers and sisters. And lively homes full of family is the cause for many distractions. Talk to your family, explain that the day is still a workday for you. Ask them to respect your workspace and to leave you be - until the end of your work day that is.


Break for lunch

Just like you would if you were at the office, you should take a break for lunch. Go for a walk, get away from your computer, stretch your legs. Part of staying productive is keeping to a routine, and this includes taking breaks and giving your eyes a rest from screen time. Making the time to break will help you feel more energetic when you get back to your desk.


Keep to your morning rituals

Maintaining your routine and keeping your morning rituals is important - this means showering and getting dressed as you normally would. Feeling fresh and ready to tackle the day ahead, will help you stay on task. But rolling out of bed and straight to your laptop is a recipe for feeling sluggish and unmotivated. Treat your day from home as you would any other day, wake up at your normal time, have a coffee, shower and get dressed. It will improve your productivity and your mood.


Invest in a good set of headphones

If your home is noisy, headphones will help to keep you on task and on time. But it doesn't just keep distractions out. Music is a great motivator and can help keep your energy high.

Or if you're like me, you can listen to ASMR in the background. This helps to keep me relaxed throughout the day.


Buy a laptop stand

If you're working from a laptop, buy a stand for it. Trust me. The ergonomics of your work space need to support your health. Constantly tilting your head down puts excessive strain on your neck and back. Ideally, you should be able to see the middle of your laptop screen while sitting totally upright. If you can't get a stand. Your neck will thank you and you'll be able to work more efficiently.



If you're looking for more you can do to improve your period of self-isolation, read our RUSSH round-up on the best ways to kill time. You can also read about how to improve your immunity during isolation.

COVID-19 is significant and self-isolation is key. Stay informed with your health department’s latest recommendations and help out those in need wherever possible.