You’ll want to note some effective remote work tips if you’re making the transition from working in an office setting to working in the comfort of your own home, you’ll find there are so many benefits and so much new found time. However, it’s easy to let the distractions of where you normally lounge around to get in the way of your productivity. After working from home for the last four years, I know the best practices to help you successfully navigate this transition. With a bit of discipline and these tips for effective remote work, you’ll make the transition in no time.

1. Find Your Time of Highest Productivity

If you are used to working in an office setting, most likely you’re part of the 9-5 schedule. Because you may be so used to this schedule, you may not be familiar with what your most productive time of day is. There are different tools like understnading your chronotype, that can help you figure this out or something you can test out as you get used to working from home.

When you figure this out, make sure to schedule your highest priority and most significant tasks for this time of day. Keep your personal activities outside of this timeframe as well as any minor tasks. This will help ensure you are getting your important responsibilities completed with the utmost focus.

2. Have a Morning Routine

There are two temptations here. One, it can be tempting to use the extra time you’ll have in the morning (by not commuting to work) to sleep in. Two, it can be tempting to wake up and think about work right away to get it done as early as possible. Let’s avoid both.

  • Morning routines are an effective way to create boundaries between you-time and work-time. Having a routine before you start work helps you create a pattern where you get used to knowing you’ll be working from home that day. The routine eases the pattern disruption that you’ve been so used to with your typical 9-5 work schedule.
  • You’ll find time to do things you may have previously spent commuting. Some ideas to include in your morning routine are gratitude practices, meditation, goal-setting, or idea-generating.
  • Maintain just a few tasks in the morning, so it’s not overwhelming or rushed. These should be a mix of standard tasks, like showering, and practices centered around self-growth or optimism.

3. Create a designated workspace

There should be physical separation from where you sleep and where you work – this means no working from your bed. When you work somewhere that is designated for work-time, you train your mind to know that it’s time to be in a state of productivity and not a time to lounge.

  • If you have the option, work from a home office or separate room that is designated for something other than sleeping or lounging. Not many have this privilege, so there are other options to consider:
    • Have a workspace in your bedroom that looks different than the rest of your room. You can do that by adding plants, quotes, or decor on a desk and/or the wall around it.
    • If you are frequently on video calls with your team, make sure to consider the space behind you. For example, you should avoid having your bed or a strong backlight in the background.
  • Setting up space at a kitchen table is definitely a viable option. In fact, part of your morning routine can be to set this space up so that it’s welcoming for you to work for the day.

4. Change Scenery

This relates to #3. If you’re someone who is used to working in an office where there is a consistent amount moving around to go to meetings or in-person talks, you may want to consider changing the scenery within your home throughout the day. When we change the environment we are working in, it helps spark creativity and keeps you engaged in your work.

  • If you have the option to do something like this, you can try spending the first couple hours at your bedroom desk, going to the kitchen table, and working a bit on a balcony, or some version of this.
  • If you are cooped up and working inside the same place you also live, this can fee frustrating toward the end of the day. It can be easy to get cabin fever and feel restless. Make sure you get outside when you can, whether it’s a couple walks around the neighborhood or running an errand. Be sure you are not spending your entire day- both personal and work time- in your home.

5. Take Breaks

To be our most productive selves, we need breaks. You will need certain blocks of the day to recharge your mental energy.

  • One of the best ways to take a break while working is having a longer period of working, with a short break, and repeating it. A few popular ones you may want to try out (make sure you’re timing and testing which works) are as follows:
  • However much time you typically spend on a lunch break, set this same amount of time when you’re working from home. Just like physical separation, you should mentally separate yourself from work during this time too.

6. Eliminate Distractions

Being at home there’s plenty of distractions, from TV, social media, texting, even cleaning up- it’s so easy for us to find a distraction. For effective remote work, you will need to eliminate distractions – If you weren’t able to do it in an office setting, avoid it at home too. This will take some discipline you’ll grow over time, as well as a few habits and tools.

  • We talked about having a timed schedule for focused work and taking breaks. Make sure your phone is face-down during the 50 minute period – or however long you choose for your focused/work time block. 
  • Make a rule for yourself that activities that are meant for personal or lounge time can only be done after or in between a certain time of day.

7. Use Your Extra Time Effectively

The best part about working from home is that you realize how much extra time you have. You will see that in the typical 9-5 work setting, a lot of extra time is spent on desk chats, unnecessary in-person meetings, and the most of all: commuting. You will have extra time once you get the hang of how to implement effective remote work. What you do with this time is up to you.

Think about it like this, if you have extra time that would normally be spent at work anyway, you might as well use that same productive energy toward something else – self-development, a side hustle, writing a book, learning a new skill, the possibilities are endless. Even better, you will still have time to lounge and have personal you-time when you’re all finished at your usual hours.

Working from home can be a major transition. It will require some personal rules and discipline in the beginning, but you’ll soon realize how much more effective remote work can be and how much time you’ll actually get back.