How to effectively work from home

11+ tips you can easily implement in day to day routine

If you work from home, you probably often feel like your workday is monotonous. Sometimes you might lack the will and motivation, so you find it difficult to sit and work, or you feel like there are too many distractions around. In Crystal Pigeon, we have a remote work culture, so we feel you. The good thing is we do know stuff about the work-from-home lifestyle, so go ahead and see what are 11 of our golden work-from-home productivity advice.

Obviously, each individual will encounter different obstacles, given that we all have different lifestyles and do different types of work. However, there are some universal rules for everyone who does not work in the office. Whether you were always working from home, as a freelancer or in a team, or this new pandemic situation got you stuck in an unfamiliar situation, here you can find some practical advice you can implement in your day to day routine.

1. Set-up routine and schedule that suits your needs

First of all, you should take the time to realize and determine the daily rhythm and schedule that suits you best. You can read all the advice and researches on productivity in the world, but if the thought of waking up at 5.30 gives you nightmares, you shouldn’t even consider considering it. When you realize what you want your day to look like, you should set realistic expectations for daily accomplishments and do your best to stick to them.

Whatever you decide on, we recommend having an organized structure of the day. Maintaining a regular schedule provides day structure, but also helps you stay motivated. You don’t have to be strict – changing the time and the place from time to time could boost your productivity, but we recommend that your daily routine has some established elements. We work according to the established structure, from 9 am to 3 pm, because our team members unanimously decided so. If this seems monotonous, you could change your working hours by the days of the week, or the weeks in a month. To avoid monotony, it is good to determine the end of working hours and then change your location – go out and indulge yourself in some physical activity.

2. How to start aka. use coffee as a moral support

Think about what is the thing you can implement in your daily routine that can physically lead you to your workspace. Maybe it is coming back from a workout session, or dressing up in something you would normally go to work or a meeting? For the most disciplined ones, it can be just a clock indicating the time defined for starting with the work. If you don’t need to start in the morning, you can be creative about your routine… maybe it would suit you to firstly recharge your batteries at some social gathering, with family, or by taking a walk in nature?

Routine consists of rituals, so you should use rituals to make you sit and work. Actually, this is a pretty simple thing to do. For example, one of my rituals is coffee making. After I’m done with my morning routine (which ends with me having breakfast) I make myself my favorite coffee, take it to my desk and open my computer. My coffee is my moral support for begging work.

There is one trick regarding starting to work. It’s about stopping in the middle of something at the end of the working day. Allegedly this could make it easier to jump into the task the next day. We heard that Ernest Hemingway would try to leave in the middle of a paragraph at the end of the day so it would be easier for him to start writing the next day. It is a psychological thing – it is easier to start off when you know where you are going.

3. Bare desk = bright work?

There might be some saying stating that clear space means a clean mind, and we go by it. Clean your room, your desk, and make sure you have everything you need – on your desk, in your home office, and your home. 

Your working space should be comfy and you should enjoy being there. Except for tidiness, it should meet other requirements. Equip yourself with good desktop, mouse, printer, software, or whatever you need to do your job properly. If you need silence, make sure you have it. Make sure you are comfortable, especially make sure your chair is good for your posture. No one can be productive enough while having back pain. Think ahead of what are you going to eat, so that being hungry can’t make you stop in the middle of the work.

Decluttering can mentally prepare us for work activities so you could also use it as one of the rituals (as we wrote in the last paragraph). There is one thing to bear in mind – clean your space, but be careful you don’t get too involved in it. Tiding up could sometimes be used as a tool for procrastination.

4. Draw a line between private and work-related stuff

The line between business and private is very easily crossed while working from home. If you do your best not to mesh these two up, work will be much more productive. One way to do this is to find a way to physically separate these two. If you have the opportunity, make a separate place to work in your home, even if it is only a corner you’ll use exclusively for work.

Some of us who work remotely can function better in a public place. For some, this means they can focus better if they do not have the freedom to go to sit on the couch or pick up the phone. For such people, a good office could be public libraries, parks, coffee shops, restaurants, and similar places.

If you don’t live alone, let your family or roommates know that you are not available to communicate and do housework during working hours, except, perhaps, during breaks.

It is very important to define working hours, otherwise, there will always be something waiting for you to finish. We choose to work 6 hours a day, as it is known that shorter working hours boost productivity levels.

5. Your office is in your house, but your life is not your work

Just because your office happens to be in the same place you live, doesn’t mean that your day should be all about your work. We face this challenge all the time – how not to work when our laptop is available 24/7 and we always have an option to finish some stuff we’d left behind. We noticed that it was a problem for the other members of the team as well, so we defined working hours more clearly.

One trick that might help when we remember that we needed to do something or some creative solution pops into our minds during our free time. Instead of sitting at the computer and doing it, just write it down in a reminder for tomorrow. It takes 5 minutes, it makes you feel more relaxed and prepared for the next day. The best way to do this might be making sticky notes on the desktop, so reminders appear tomorrow as soon as you turn on the laptop.When you work 8 hours a day or more, it often turns into unproductive work. It is natural to simply lose the will to work at some point. So be careful not to overwork yourself. There is one thing that can help you stop working – schedule free-time activities immediately after work. That’s how you’ll know that you have to finish, as other activities are waiting. These days we enjoy riding bikes right after work. It combines three beautiful things – being in nature, physical activity, and socializing.

6. Respect your breaks as you respect your working-hours

This is pretty similar to the previous one, and we know you hear this annoyingly often, but here’s once again: take regular breaks. Newest researches showed that the best work-pause intervals are 52 minutes of work followed by a 17-minute break. Breaks don’t need to have any particular form – you can do whatever you enjoy doing, whether it is stretching, going for a walk, snacking, reading news, or watching favorite series. The only important thing is for your brain to relax.If it’s hard for you not to be around the computer during your break, you can use an app to keep you locked out of the computer for some time. Check out TimeOut for Mac or Smart Break for Windows. Just don’t do your job while you are on a break!

7. Make that extra effort not to feel lonely

For some, especially extroverts, sitting alone in the house could be a huge disadvantage. Lack of interpersonal relationships is inevitable, so you should put in an extra effort to see and talk to other people. Humans are social beings and it is normal to seek human contact.

We as a team are connected through Discord, the platform for messaging and video calls. We do our best to maintain contacts as much as possible. Our team leaders try to encourage each team member to communicate with others as much as possible, both through work-related topics and others.

Our 7th golden advice is to set up some kind of schedule for coffees or at least some online meetings with your colleagues, clients, or work peers. As long as your relationship with your superiors is concerned, you could set up a routine of making some kind of reports about the tasks you’ve accomplished that day. This could also be good for your productivity, motivation, and feeling of accomplishment.

For example, we found that music is a really good remedy for feelings of loneliness and monotony. As we are connected through Discord, we practice listening to music on Spotify together. It is a great opportunity to have fun and connect with your coworkers.

8. Multitasking is not an option

Sorry for ruining this for you, but please, just focus on one thing at a time. We understand it is tempting to do more things at once, but it is proven that multitasking significantly reduces productivity. Define time for small and big tasks and do them separately. Don’t try to code, design, or write while answering e-mails, phone calls, or coworkers’ questions. Don’t try to cook or feed your dog while trying to find the best creative solution for the current project. Try to avoid online distractions once you sit down to work. Turn the silent mode on, and put your phone away. 

One trick that might help you is to make a to-do list, but by mixing the schedule of big and small tasks. Set two small ones, check them off the list and you’ll be more motivated to do the third – the big one. Let that big one be followed by two small ones. This works well all the time.

9. Celebrate your wins

When you finish your work for the day, set aside 15 minutes to appreciate the things you’ve done. Check off the items on the daily to-do list. Think of what you did, instead of what you didn’t get to accomplish. You can also take notes about your accomplishments, it could help in keeping you motivated. And don’t forget to treat yourself.

10. Work on yourself

Working from home can often be much more demanding than working in an office. It requires certain qualities that are not so necessary when a person works in an office.

First of all, a person who works remotely must possess working habits. Work-in-pajamas lifestyle can make you unproductive if you are not self-disciplined and responsible. That being said, developing qualities such as self-discipline can help a lot.

Another thing you could work on is organizational skills. The organization is a productivity booster! Discipline doesn’t make much sense without organization and vice versa. When a person organizes his working hours, then it’s easier to know when you should focus on work, and when is the time to check up on social media, e-mail, or text a friend.

11. Stop thinking and get to work

Did you hear about Mel Robbins and her 5-second rule? You have loads of literature and videos on this online. In short, The 5 Second Rule is simple:

When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do,
count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.

This is how you can prevent your mind from working against you. You can start before your mind starts to make all sorts of thoughts and excuses.

So what should you do? Just start counting backward to yourself: 5-4-3-2-1. And just start.

Is everyone in their positions? OK then, ready, set, go!

Things to remember:

  • Meet Routine and Schedule, they are your friends
  • The workplace is for work, and work only
  • Every work, no matter how big or small, should be appreciated and deserves to be rewarded. So treat yourself!

Things to avoid:

  • Burnout – if you were wondering if you should, take that break!
  • Isolation and disconnection
  • Multitasking

Crystal Pigeon originals:

  • Get yourself a pet to cheer you up
  • Make music your ally
  • Bike it away!
  • Find inspiration in nature