How To Work From Home Efficiently Without Breaking Down In The Process

Some have been on the digital-nomading train for quite a while, effectively working whilst travelling the world, turning trains, planes, Airbnbs, cafés (the list is endless) into their office-of-the-day. Some haven’t been hopping from country to country but have still been experiencing the remote lifestyle by working in the comfort of their own home.

And others have always been accustomed to a corporate environment, the security on their own desk, office, colleagues and routine. But the outbreak of Covid-19 has just swept aside the habits and thrown everybody out of their comfort zone, with a whole new challenge: working from home, full time, for the first time.

Here are a few tips on how to stay productive, clear-headed and motivated through these challenging times.

1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR OWN DEDICATED WORKSPACE

Create your own space where you can shut yourself away and focus on work in a peaceful and quiet environment.

If you’re living with other people — partner, kids, parents, roomies — make sure they know that you’re working and must not be disturbed. It’s a hard adjustment to suddenly be at home full-time and you/they may be tempted to spend more time together, by heading in the room for entertainment, for a chat, some advice, a hug… things that would not happen if you were away in your work office. Make sure they understand that when you walk into your ‘space’, you are ‘gone’ for the day.

2. INVEST IN QUALITY EQUIPMENT

Beyond the basic necessities — a desk, a reliable laptop and a powerful router, there is some equipment you should seriously consider investing in to do your job comfortably and efficiently.

As seen on Twitter:

“Stop using a $2,000 laptop while sitting on a $20 chair. I’m now paying $2,000/yr in physiotherapy!”

Rodolphe Dutel


Studies have revealed that a workstation lacking proper ergonomics can generate musculoskeletal disorders in back, shoulders and neck as well as carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Investing in a proper office chair is the first thing to do. Make sure you pick one with that’s adjustable with ample cushioning, that supports your entire back and has the ability to recline.
  • A standing desk is ideal to share your workday between sitting and standing, essential for both comfort and health. — A ventilated adjustable laptop stand will help prevent eye strain, neck pain and headaches and keep the air circulating on the bottom of your laptop to avoid it getting too hot.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones are a game-changer to maintain absolute focus on your work and not have to contend with any outside interference. Ideal if you’re having to work from a busy household! 3.

3. GET DRESSED

Stick to the routine you had post ‘stay-at-home’ era. Get prepared just the way you would if you were heading out to your office. Get up, hop in the shower, get dressed — that’ll make you mentally shift from home mode to work mode and set the tone of your day. The fact of keeping a routine works wonders to maintain a sense of normality and serenity in times like this where you feel you’re losing control.

4. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE BREAKS

And by break, I mean a proper break. A great work pattern is the 90- 20 rule — work 90 minutes, take a 20-minute break — it’s an efficient way to structure your on/off work configuration. It’s been noted that the brain consumes most of its glucose in 60 to 90-minute intervals. By stopping your work to do something that isn’t so mentally draining, you enable your brain to rebuild its levels of glucose, getting you ready to attack another 90 minutes of optimal brain function.

There are many other methods that can work better for you — here are just a few: the Pomodoro method, the rule of 52 and 17 and the take-a-break-whenever-you-need-it.

5. STICK TO A STRICT SCHEDULE

Schedule your working hours and stick to them — no matter what: by doing that, you’ll increase performance and develop a healthy work schedule. Maximise the time you do have, be productive and focused, but when you close your laptop, you need to forget about work until the next morning. Make sure you draw firm lines between work and life for your well-being.

6. UPDATE YOUR TO-DO LIST ON THE DAILY

Having a to-do list that you keep updated and the fact of crossing off completed tasks will keep you organised, motivated and productive. A great tip is to break large to-dos into smaller ones: it always feels more do-able when it’s not all one giant task. Some people will enjoy the good old notepad and pen, whilst other might find it easier to keep their list on-line in which case I’d recommend these following tools: TrelloSticky notes or Google Keep.

7. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION TOOLS

It’s important to stay connected whilst you are self-isolating. There are many different tools you can use, like SlackZoomGoogle HangoutsSkypeFacebook Workplace… just to name a few, enabling you to continue real-time interaction. Embrace video calls so you can see your colleagues and maintain the relationships.

8. STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ALL OTHER DISTRACTIONS

Being at home means having all the cool stuff literally right by you. But remember that a “quick scroll” on Instagram can turn into a major time suck. Make sure you turn all notifications off, as well as the TV and only open the tabs needed for work.

9. FOR ALL THE COFFEE-LOVERS OUT THERE… STEP UP YOUR COFFEE GAME

Coffee. A big part of our work-day. Staying at home means no more trips to the local café, no more friendly coffee-shop buzz and exquisite smell of freshly ground coffee. Tough, yes, but wait for it. Take all the money you spend on your daily cuppa and invest it in becoming your very own barista. Order a coffee maker, brew your own – add a milk- frother to the order if you’re more of a latte person – and indulge that delicious liquid productivity-booster.

10. FOCUS ON THE PERKS OF WORKING FROM HOME

It may seem scary at first, but once you get the hang of it – you’ll start to see how amazing remote work can really be. Reflect on all the time (and money) saved on commuting and eating out, forget crowds and traffic, think on how great it is to have a more flexible schedule, to decide on your work environment and avoid all those office distractions.

By implementing several of these tips into your workday, you’ll find yourself more inclined to manage your time effectively, develop self-discipline and be more productive in your job.

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