A cozy home with a content cat and a flickering candle, representing a productive work environment.

When it comes to working from home, some people thrive while others barely survive. So, what’s the difference? Are those who thrive somehow smarter or better? Are the ones that struggle lazy and unmotivated? In most cases, the answer is no. The difference is usually down to five key things that every person who successfully works from home seems to have mastered.

1. Set up a proper workspace

This can be difficult if you live in a small premise without a dedicated office space. If you don’t have room to set up a proper desk, try one of those adjustable laptop stands or a stable table. You can use them on the couch or your favourite chair. Choose a place with minimal visual and aural distractions. If possible, position yourself facing a view that inspires you. Wherever you set up, remember ergonomics for your wellbeing and comfort.

Pro tip: make your work space video-meeting friendly. Check the background looks like a professional, uncluttered space and that you’re well lit.

“Maintaining sanity and balancing productivity whilst working from home can be a tricky balancing act,” says Growth Executive Amber, “I find that having lots of natural light decreases stress and generates a productive working atmosphere.”

Working from Home

2. Follow a to do list

Make a to do list at the start of the day or even at close of business the day prior. Set your priorities for the day and stick to them. Give yourself deadlines and set goals so you don’t slow your pace from that which you normally have in the office. If a task in the office normally takes an hour, then challenge yourself to get it done in an hour or sooner when working at home. You may surprise yourself and get it done sooner!

Pro tip: use icons or colours to set your priorities and status of jobs. Try an app to keep it all under control digitally – something like TickTick is easy to use, free and excellent for scheduling and labelling tasks and reminders.

SEO professional Jared from www.jaredbennett.com.au says, “I’ve worked from a home office for nearly 5 years now and the first few years were definitely a challenge to maintain some level of productivity throughout the whole workday.

“Given that I work with my clients on a monthly cycle, I found planning out my month in advance helped me stay on task every day. The big juicy carrot being that once I’ve completed my planned work that day, I could relax. More often than not I’m still at my desk at 5:30pm, but the possibility of being able to finish early is a strong motivator to get stuck in each morning.”

Working from Home

3. Take breaks

Sometimes it can be hard to draw the line between where work ends, and home life starts. If you’re in a busy or high-powered job you probably already take a lot of work home with you or work a lot of hours outside the normal nine to five. Did you know your productivity and accuracy actually suffers if you don’t take adequate breaks? You’ll actually be more productive if you give your brain and body those times to reset, stretch and refuel.

Pro tip: at the start of each break, set an alarm for when you need to restart work. It can be easy to get distracted around the house by the kids, pets, hobbies, social media, TV or housework. If you’re on a 15-minute break, set an alarm to let you know when it’s time to get back to work. This will help you stay focused and on track.

“Another pro tip is to get outside!” adds Communication Designer Jessie, “Some of us are used to working in an office, which is a separate environment to home life. So, to mimic that different atmosphere, get outside, go for a quick walk around the block with your dog and listen to your favourite music or podcast… and unwind!”

Working from Home

4. Limit distractions

Speaking of focus, one of the greatest working from home challenges many people face is distractions. This can be extra hard for those at home with the family – kids being remotely schooled, a partner also working from home and pets being over the moon at having their humans around 24/7. Do everything you can to limit sources of distraction. You may need to put on some headphones or ear plugs to blog out extra noise, try to limit the family’s breaks to the same time you’re having breaks or put the dog and kids out in the yard to play while you’re on a video call.

Pro tip: set a time limit on checking your emails and social media channels. Social media, while a great way to stay socially connected during these isolating times, can suck a lot of your day up without you even noticing. To avoid this, you can set a time limit and an alarm when you get on social media or limit social media use to your breaks and restrict yourself to only checking email twice a day.

Content Strategist Kiesten says, “I’m actually a lot more productive at home. I used to work in an open plan office every day which is very distracting for a writer.

“When you’re writing, you get into a bit of a ‘zone’ and you can have a great sentence in mind and all it takes is someone to strike up a conversation nearby or ask you a question and it can be out of your head. The muse is gone, and it can take up to fifteen minutes to get back into that ‘zone’ again where the ideas are just flowing. So now I attend the office for client and team meetings, but I work on the big projects at my home office. When I save time on a job, I’m saving money for our clients.”

Working from Home

5. Stick to the routine

You probably had a morning routine before COVID-19. Maintaining a similar routine when working from home can work wonders for your productivity. If your routine was bathroom, exercise, breakfast, shower, dress, make lunch, commute for 30 mins, arrive at work, check emails, start on the ‘to-do’ list, then it doesn’t need much tweaking to fit remote work. You may have to exercise at home instead of a gym, your dress might be a little more casual than usual if you don’t have a video call scheduled for the day and instead of a commute, you could take 30 minutes to listen to the same kind of music or radio as you normally would before starting your day.

Pro tip: know yourself. If you can’t wake up without a shower and three strong coffees, but you’re more productive in PJs than a suit, then that’s what you need to include in your morning routine. If you don’t feel ready for work without a full face of make-up, then do it. Understanding what works best for you is key to staying productive no matter where you’re working.

“We may have some more time in bed as a result of a reduction in our commute, but it is important to get up at normal time and get ready for work,” says Communication Designer Quinn, “Set a schedule and stick to it.

“I prefer to make a plan the first thing in the morning, it’s my normal morning routine before I start work. That helps me organize the things I have to do and keeps distractions at bay. Another important thing in my routine is that I give myself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen. It’s great that at Viabrand we use time management software to track our time, it’s very helpful when I work from home as it shows whether I am sticking to my schedule and gives clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day.”

Working from Home

We bet a lot of you have great tips of your own for working from home. Let us know your best ones on our social channels!

If taking care of your own marketing is impacting your productivity, talk to Viabrand about our Vie Continuous Improvement Plans. The program gives you access to our experts in strategy, design, marketing and web development when you need them most – for the duration of a specific project or for ongoing assistance. If you’re interested, please book your FREE 15 minute call session below to learn more: