Why You’re Not Getting Any Work Done at Home, and How to Fix That

Working from home

It’s a new normal, uncharted and unexplored. Whether you’re working from home, helping your kids with schoolwork during the day, trying to stay busy with new creative outlets, or some combination of all three and then some, having a structured day will help boost your productivity and lower your anxiety.

Below are tips from veteran work-at-homers, encompassing everything from routines and meals to setting up a workspace that doesn’t leave you stuck in an uninspired corner.

Before that though -- we would be remiss if we didn’t stop to thank those front-line workers who aren’t able to work from home because they’re keeping us healthy, safe and fed: health care workers, scientists, doctors, nurses, first responders, food service workers, cashiers, delivery drivers, warehouse stockers, grocery store staff, gas station attendants and any other angels. You’re the real heroes.

Let us also say that if you’re having trouble finding routine, be patient with yourself. These are new, difficult times, and practicing compassion for yourself and those around you will bring peace. Our best advice: let go of guilt. If you have kids and a co-working spouse you may not be able to be as productive or focused as you are in your quiet office. Let go of inflated expectations, and know you are doing your best. This too shall pass.

15 ways to work at home more productively:

  1. Choose your view. We’ve all seen the perfectly organized and feng shui workspaces on social media. Now is not the time for that. If you need to move furniture so that you can look out the window while you’re working, do it. If you need to move things out of a closet to give yourself a quiet place to focus, do that. We give you permission.
  2. Make your workstation as comfortable -- and as separate -- as possible. Dedicate a place in your home for your work. Set your monitor at eye level and position to reduce glare. If you have a standing desk, use a standing mat, rug or plushy towel to reduce fatigue, and if you have a chair, make sure it provides adequate support for the lower back. Keep a coaster out, and store supplies nearby (pens, stapler, etc.)
  3. Start your work day by reading. Keep two or three books near your work station and start each work day with a few pages from each: a bible, work-related book, and/or a devotional are all good suggestions. This routine will help you create distance between work and home, and will signal to your brain that it’s time to get to work.
  4. End your work day by organizing. At the end of your work day, take time to clean up and organize your space. Make your to-do list for the following day. That way when you start working the next day, you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
  5. Use a paperweight to put a pin down your work at the end of the day. It can be tempting to check emails at night, especially if your entire work life is a few steps away from your living area. Weighing down your work can be a physical barrier to help you create distance between work life and everyday life.
  6. Keep a self-care basket near your computer. Keep items like lotion, lip balm, hair clip, hand sanitizer, gum, mints, tissues, nearby and visible, as a reminder to take care of you.
  7. As best you can, stick to a schedule. Choose your start and end times every day, and be disciplined about staying on track. Be as deliberate at scheduling time for meals and snacks.
  8. Take a break. It’s unreasonable to think that you’ll be working for eight hours straight every day. Add those breaks into your day and you’ll actually boost productivity. 
  9. And when you take a break, make it count. When you do take your break, don’t spend time on your computer. Leave your work space. Give your eyes and brain a break from staring at your screen. Take a walk, feel the sunshine on your face, move your body. Cabin fever is real!
  10. Keep your charging equipment set up and close by. Nothing is more distracting than a rapidly draining phone or computer battery. Keep all of your charging equipment at your workstation so you can always be running on full.
  11. Turn on your diffuser. Essential oils like peppermint and citrus can help you focus, and can help you create a smellscape (that’s a word, right?) to separate your work life from the rest of your home.
  12. Make a fun beverage every day. Be mindful of your hydration. Having a fun beverage will not only keep you hydrated, but will give you something fun to sip while you’re working. Try lemonade, different teas, fruit-infused water, hot chocolate, or a new flavor of seltzer. 
  13. Movement snacks. Build in a quick workout, or what we at Skyterra like to call “movement snacks.” Here are a few no-equipment options for you:
    1. Air squats and planks
    2. Push-ups and V-ups
    3. Burpees and mountain climbers
  14. Be purposeful about your background noise. Do you need silence when you’re working? Or are you someone who needs noise in the background? Choose your background noise purposefully. If you are someone who needs quiet but that’s not possible right now, try some of the ambient noise playlists out there. Pure Focus by Apple Music is a great place to start.
  15. If your brain or writing is blocked, reset with a mindless household chore to help process. Sometimes something as simple as folding laundry can be enough to give your brain a place to reset, and so that you can come up with your next big idea.

From all of us at Skyterra, we are thinking of you, your families and your futures. We send you love, productivity, focus, and most importantly, health.