Productivity while working from home

Today, a Belgian tweet caught my eye:

The rough idea is that this person keeps postponing the start of the day and, as a result, doesn’t feel productive working from home. In this post, I hope to share some things I’ve learnt over the past years. (Wow, I’ve been a remote worker for more than 6.5 years now.)

Plan ahead

While we have a 9-month-old daughter, I followed a pretty tight schedule even before she came into our lives. At the start of my week — or even better: at the end of my previous week — I look at my calendar. I make sure all my to-dos are added to Things, and I already assign them to a specific day.

I also share my calendar with Kim, and I update my work hours if I have a meeting that falls outside of my regular work times.

We started doing that because it’s super tempting to stay behind the computer and keep working. There’s always something that can be done, and at the end of the day, I don’t want to cut back on family time and fun because of work.

Only use your computer

I do not work on my phone. I do not have work emails, Slack,, etc., on my phone. As a result, I’m not tempted to work anywhere else besides behind my computer screen. I rarely disconnect my laptop and use it on the couch these days, so the work/life split has become even more strict.

The only exceptions are my calendar and my to-dos app on my phone. The calendar is handy to get an extra notification about an upcoming meeting or scheduling a physio or doctor appointment without needing my laptop. The to-dos app allows me to have a quick preview of my day ahead and allows me to add a to-do if I think of one outside of work. The latter’s advantage is that I can park the thought/work and only revisit it when I’m actually working.

Cluster work types

I have a fairly good routine when it comes to planning my work. At the start of my day, I normally catch up with emails and discussions on P2 (the internal blogs we use instead of emails). Then I have time to catch up on conversations via Slack. I will not have opened Slack before this point.

Before and after lunch, I’ll have a good chunk of time dedicated to project and division lead planning. Throughout the years, I’ve found these slots to be the most useful ones for this type of work.

Further, I also try to bundle my meetings as much as possible. That goes for the time of day, but also for the day of the week. I, for example, have the majority of my recurring check-ins on Thursdays.

Log everything

As someone who has quite a few meetings every week and gets pinged on Slack dozens of times per day, it’s easy to feel unproductive at the end of a day. I’ve learnt that it’s good to log pretty much every task I do that takes me longer than 10 minutes. There are multiple automated tools like RescueTime, but I’ve found that using an Alfred workflow with Things works best for me.

And you?

What are some of the tips and tricks you have for being (and feeling) productive while working from home.

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