7 tips for how to work from home productively and without losing your mind

Lara Billington
Content Marketing Executive

You might have noticed that working from home has become all the rage at the moment. 

And if you're most productive working in your own space, where you don't have to smile through gritted teeth when half of the office asks for a hot drink any time you get off your chair, or listen to your co-worker inhale a packet of cheese and onion crisps like their life depended on it, then the recent advice for social distancing, self-isolation and working from home might be music to your ears.

But for others, being out of your usual working environment - whether that's going onto campus or into the office - might throw you off or leave you feeling unproductive. So to help you through this uncertain time, we've offered some tips for staying focused and in good spirits over the coming weeks.




1. Keep to your usual routine 

Not having to commute into work or walk to uni probably means you can afford to get up a few minutes later than usual, and by all means do, but avoid rolling out of bed five minutes before you intend to start working. Keep to your usual morning routine - get up and dressed, brush your teeth, shower, write in your diary - whatever you'd do on a 'normal' day. You could even consider going as far as, and this might sound wild, putting your shoes on. 

Try to stick to your usual working hours too; that way you know the point at which you go from being 'at work' to being at home. The more you treat the day as if it was like any other, the more mentally prepared you'll be for working rather than lounging around the house.


2. Find somewhere to work that isn't your bed

Or a sofa. Or anything cushioned. 

It might sound tempting, but think twice when you wake up about whether or not spending the day in bed with your laptop is going to help your productivity. The brain sees bed and thinks sleep - having a work space that's separate from the rest of your home, whether it's at a desk or the kitchen table, will mentally prepare you for work mode and help shut off distractions. 

Plus, when 5pm rolls around, being able to step away from the area where you work will make switching off from the day much easier.


3. Consider some background noise

Maybe you like whale sounds. Perhaps you prefer Radio 4. We wouldn't even judge you if you were into listening to people eat pickles into an overly-sensitive microphone. If you find it odd working in silence, background noise can help make being alone a bit more bearable, and offers a pleasant alternative to your co-workers crisp-munching sounds. 

Try to avoid the TV though, because no matter how certain you are that Homes Under the Hammer won't distract you, once you get invested in seeing a home transformation there's no switching it off. 


4. Take outdoor breaks 

As you would in the office, taking short breaks throughout the day and a lunch hour is important, but it's also a good idea to get outside for some fresh air, not only to boost your productivity levels and focus, but for your wellbeing too. 

We've been advised to keep clear of social situations with larger groups of people but that doesn't mean you can't go for a walk in the park, down the road or even just into the garden. Breathing in some fresh air gets you up off your seat and can help clear your mind, something that's super important when you might be feeling more anxious or distracted than usual. This will have a knock-on effect on your productivity whilst working too. 


5. Stay in touch

If you're someone who finds motivation from being in the team environment of a workplace, working from home might feel isolating and tricky to get used to.

You'll probably have to keep in regular contact with some colleagues to talk 'work stuff', but you can still have the social interactions you'd have with your mates in the office, at home. Check in with the team, send them memes, FaceTime over your 3pm coffee - small interactions like this are important for keeping your spirits up and staying motivated to get your work done. 


6. Mute your phone 

When nobody's beady eyes are keeping watch on how much work you're doing, it can be easy to rack up your allotted screen time before you've even had lunch.

Not only does scrolling through your phone distract you from working, but given how much information and news we're being bombarded with at the moment, it's no good for your emotional wellbeing either. Consider downloading a productivity app, switch off notifications, move your phone into another room or just switch it off completely for a few hours a day, and give your full focus to getting work done. 

7. Look at the positives of working from home 

You'll come to realise quickly that the novelty of working from home will wear off. And given that no one is entirely sure when we'll be able to get back to normal life, the prospect of being at home for the foreseeable future can be daunting. With this in mind, next time you're about to lose your mind take a minute to think about all the positives of working from home. For example:

1. No awkward conversations whilst the tea brews with co-workers you don't particularly like 
2. No commuting issues, including but not limited to traffic jams, leaves on the train tracks, forgetting your brolly on the day it rains 
3. Access to a greater variety of snacks, and no one to judge you when you eat all of them in the first two days 
4. Free rein to listen to your awful tunes that would otherwise be switched off in the office
5. The chance to use the time you would've spent commuting on something else - home workouts, perhaps, or whipping up a Betty Crocker brownie mix


Although it might feel as though the world has come to a stand still, now is the perfect time to start your graduate job hunt, perfect your CV or find an internship or placement for later in the year. Check out our website for a whole range of opportunities.