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How to work from home productively

11 steps you can take to up your work-from-home game.

Are you still struggling to work from home productively? (Photo: Gettyimages)
Are you still struggling to work from home productively? (Photo: Gettyimages)

As we enter the post-Covid era, some companies have made their employees return to the office, while others continue to adopt the work-from-home practice or a hybrid of both. Working from home can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires discipline and effective strategies to ensure productivity.

If, despite working from home for years—Covid started about four years ago!—you’re still struggling to work from home productively, here are some steps you can consider. After all, it’s the start of a brand new year. What’s a better time than now to make some meaningful changes?

1. Set up a dedicated workspace

When you have to go to the office for work, it is easy to associate home as a place for rest and recovery. But when home becomes a place for both work and rest, the boundary becomes blurry if you don’t have a dedicated workspace. By creating a designated area for work and separating it from your personal space, you create a psychological boundary between work and leisure. This will also help you switch off and unwind faster, reducing the risk of burnout.

TTRacing Titus Ergonomic Standing Desk Electric Height Adjustable Computer PC Gaming Desk Office Table

From S$369 (was S$629)

TTRacing Titus Ergonomic Standing Desk Electric Height Adjustable Computer PC Gaming Desk Office Table. (Photo: Shopee SG)
TTRacing Titus Ergonomic Standing Desk Electric Height Adjustable Computer PC Gaming Desk Office Table. (Photo: Shopee SG)

LeShu Office Chair Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair Comfort For Work 8 Hours High-back Adjustable 3D Headrest Reclining 90-125°

From S$31.90 (was S$65.80)

LeShu Office Chair Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair Comfort For Work 8 Hours High-back Adjustable 3D Headrest Reclining 90-125°. (Photo: Shopee SG)
LeShu Office Chair Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair Comfort For Work 8 Hours High-back Adjustable 3D Headrest Reclining 90-125°. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Having an ergonomic desk and chair will also help you to maintain a correct posture for work and reduce body aches. These may be pricier than a regular desk or chair, but at least, you don’t have to fork out medical bills for spine problems!

2. Establish a routine

When you work from home, there is no need to wake up extra early to hop on the sardine-packed bus or train. You can literally jump up from bed and start working in your pyjamas. But humans are creatures of habit. Sticking to a regular schedule with specific work hours and regular breaks is essential in ensuring you don’t overwork or lose focus. If you don’t know how to start, try the Pomodoro Technique of breaking your work into intervals of 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest.

Ticktime Cube Pomodoro Timer, Magnetic Productivity Timer, Mute, Vibration & Adjustable Sound Alert, Pause & Resume, for Work, ADHD, Office, Study, Task, Meeting, Black

S$31.60 (was S$54.50)

Ticktime Cube Pomodoro Timer, Magnetic Productivity Timer, Mute, Vibration & Adjustable Sound Alert, Pause & Resume, for Work, ADHD, Office, Study, Task, Meeting, Black. (Photo: Shopee SG)
Ticktime Cube Pomodoro Timer, Magnetic Productivity Timer, Mute, Vibration & Adjustable Sound Alert, Pause & Resume, for Work, ADHD, Office, Study, Task, Meeting, Black. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Instead of fussing over the timer settings in your phone, you can use a Pomodoro timer that already has all the settings you need to boost your focus and productivity.

3. Dress for success

We’ve all been there: trying to work professionally while in our pyjamas. But deep down, surely you’ve felt a tinge of mismatch or bizarreness. While you don't have to wear a suit, changing out of your pyjamas can help shift your mindset into work mode and improve your focus, just like how dressing smart can boost your confidence.

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ZANZEA Women Elegant OL Work Sleeveless Solid Midi Casual A-line Vestido Dresses. (Photo: Shopee SG)
ZANZEA Women Elegant OL Work Sleeveless Solid Midi Casual A-line Vestido Dresses. (Photo: Shopee SG)

[SPAO] Men’s Button Down Short Sleeve Work Jacket

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[SPAO] Men’s Button Down Short Sleeve Work Jacket. (Photo: Shopee SG)
[SPAO] Men’s Button Down Short Sleeve Work Jacket. (Photo: Shopee SG)

You don’t need to dress fancifully to work from home, but you should at least dress well to feel good and get ready for some serious business!

4. Create a to-do list

One of the problems with working from home is the difficulty of fully breaking away from work. There can be a gazillion pressing things running through your mind, making you feel overwhelmed even when you’re supposed to be resting. When you’re feeling suffocated, list the things you need to do either the night before or early in the morning before you start work. This will give you a clearer picture of the priorities and reduce your worries about missing any task. You should also break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps to make them more achievable.

Suatelier Daily Plan Sticky Memo | Korean Sticky Note, Monthly Plan, Weekly Plan, Time Table, To Do List

S$4.47 (was S$4.60)

Suatelier Daily Plan Sticky Memo | Korean Sticky Note, Monthly Plan, Weekly Plan, Time Table, To Do List. (Photo: Shopee SG)
Suatelier Daily Plan Sticky Memo | Korean Sticky Note, Monthly Plan, Weekly Plan, Time Table, To Do List. (Photo: Shopee SG)

A4 PP Erasable Whiteboard

S$3.99

A4 PP Erasable Whiteboard. (Photo: Shopee SG)
A4 PP Erasable Whiteboard. (Photo: Shopee SG)

A sticky memo lets you quickly jot down any task that comes to mind. If you’re eco-conscious but still enjoy writing, use an erasable whiteboard to list your tasks.

5. Set goals

In addition to creating a to-do list, determine what you want to or have to achieve each day. Start by defining your SMART goals for the day: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Put these goals somewhere you’ll see often, such as physically on a sticky note or digitally on your desktop. Having specific objectives can keep you focused and motivated.

3M™ Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, 654-AST, 100 sheets/pack, 3 x 3 in, Marseille Collection, For reminder & memo

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3M™ Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, 654-AST, 100 sheets/pack, 3 x 3 in, Marseille Collection, For reminder & memo. (Photo: Shopee SG)
3M™ Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, 654-AST, 100 sheets/pack, 3 x 3 in, Marseille Collection, For reminder & memo. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Write your SMART goals on a sticky note and stick it somewhere you can see from your desk.

6. Use productivity tools

Leverage tools such as project management software, task organisers, and communication platforms to streamline your work and stay organised. I prefer using Apple’s Reminders or Notes apps, which are synced across my devices, to keep track of my daily tasks. For more long-term or big-scale projects, I use Trello to chart the progress. But if you’re more of a pen-and-paper person, by all means, get an organiser or a planner.

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MINISO Ice Cream Series B5 Stitch-bound Book (28 Sheets, Purple). (Photo: Shopee SG)
MINISO Ice Cream Series B5 Stitch-bound Book (28 Sheets, Purple). (Photo: Shopee SG)

Ossayi 2024 A5/A6/A7 Daily Weekly Planners Schedule Notebooks

From S$2.53 (was S$4.22)

Ossayi 2024 A5/A6/A7 Daily Weekly Planners Schedule Notebooks. (Photo: Shopee SG)
Ossayi 2024 A5/A6/A7 Daily Weekly Planners Schedule Notebooks. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Choose a colourful organiser or planner to brighten up your day. You can opt for a plain notebook too if you prefer to unleash your creativity—think bullet journal.

7. Minimise distractions

In an office setting, the possible distractions are just the latest office gossip or someone bringing back some delicious snacks from their travel. But in a home setting, there are countless distractions, from your clingy bed to the temptation to binge-watch Netflix to your family members or co-inhabitants making a fuss out of nothing. It is therefore crucial to create a quiet work environment and minimise potential distractions, such as by turning off social media notifications and communicating your work hours to others in your household.

Do Not Disturb Sign, Out of Office Sign, Please Knock Sign, In a Meeting Sign, 5 Inch

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Do Not Disturb Sign, Out of Office Sign, Please Knock Sign, In a Meeting Sign, 5 Inch. (Photo: Shopee SG)
Do Not Disturb Sign, Out of Office Sign, Please Knock Sign, In a Meeting Sign, 5 Inch. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Warmhome Door Sign Hanger Tags Do Not Disturb Signs

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Warmhome Door Sign Hanger Tags Do Not Disturb Signs. (Photo: Shopee SG)
Warmhome Door Sign Hanger Tags Do Not Disturb Signs. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Hanging a sign on your door is a quick indication to those in your household of your availability.

8. Stay connected

When you work from home, there is a lack of physical contact, which may make you feel distant from your colleagues and supervisors. Having regular communication, such as over a call or a video conference, can maintain a sense of connection and help you stay informed about work developments. However, overusing video calls can lead to fatigue, so it’s best to use them for important discussions and team meetings.

Logitech C270 HD Webcam with noise-reducing mics for video calls

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Logitech C270 HD Webcam with noise-reducing mics for video calls. (Photo: Shopee SG)
Logitech C270 HD Webcam with noise-reducing mics for video calls. (Photo: Shopee SG)

UGREEN 1080P Full HD Webcam Dual Mic 360° Adjustable Computer USB Camera Webcam for Live Streaming/Conferences/Web Courses

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UGREEN 1080P Full HD Webcam Dual Mic 360° Adjustable Computer USB Camera Webcam for Live Streaming/Conferences/Web Courses. (Photo: Shopee SG)
UGREEN 1080P Full HD Webcam Dual Mic 360° Adjustable Computer USB Camera Webcam for Live Streaming/Conferences/Web Courses. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Invest in a good webcam for a clearer video conference.

9. Stay physically active

Working from home may result in a more sedentary life since there’s no need for commuting. By incorporating exercise into your routine, whether it’s a short walk, stretching, or a home workout, you can boost your energy levels and overall well-being. It is also a good chance to give your eyes a break from the glaring screens.

OneTwoFit Foldable Smart 2.0HP Treadmill 12KM/h Incline Running Walking Machine Home Gym Workout OT158AUK

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OneTwoFit Foldable Smart 2.0HP Treadmill 12KM/h Incline Running Walking Machine Home Gym Workout OT158AUK. (Photo: Shopee SG)
OneTwoFit Foldable Smart 2.0HP Treadmill 12KM/h Incline Running Walking Machine Home Gym Workout OT158AUK. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Trainbo Yoga Block Foam Brick

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Trainbo Yoga Block Foam Brick. (Photo: Shopee SG)
Trainbo Yoga Block Foam Brick. (Photo: Shopee SG)

Given Singapore’s erratic weather, it may be better to have a foldable treadmill so that you can exercise anytime regardless of rain or shine. Yoga is also good for giving your body a much-needed stretch while practising mindfulness.

10. Learn to say no

As we’re not working together physically, we lose the visual cues as to how well a person is coping with the workload. The onus is on you to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Don't overcommit yourself, and be willing to decline additional tasks if it jeopardises your productivity or well-being. This is also where your to-do list comes into play as it helps to justify your decision.

11. Reflect on your day

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to reflect on your accomplishments, identify areas for improvement, and plan for the next day. Changes don’t happen overnight, but we can take joy in each little step to a life of working from home productively. Remember that everyone’s work situation is unique, so it may take some experimentation to find the routine and strategies that work best for you.

Yahoo Shopping Southeast Asia
Yahoo Shopping Southeast Asia