man working at home on kitchen table with daughter and wife in the room

By Matt Buchanan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct.

While most of us have been working remotely for a while now, it can sometimes still be difficult to be productive. In our second post in our work from home series, guest blogger Matt Buchanan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, provides tips on how to be more productive a year in.

In one sudden, unexpected shift, working from home went from an occasional luxury to an everyday requirement. No one in the business world saw this coming, so everyone has had to adapt on the fly. With a year of working from home now under our collective belts, there have been plenty of lessons learned along the way.

At Service Direct, we are just like so many other businesses – we have both successes and setbacks in the transition to remote work. With this article, we’d like to share five tips that we hope will help you get the most out of the time you spend working from home.

#1 – Set a Schedule

It’s easy to fall into some sloppy habits when working out of your house rather than an office. Without anyone physically present to hold you accountable for a schedule, you might decide to just let your day unfold naturally without any careful planning. Sure, you may need to work around a Zoom meeting or two, but other than that you are free to do as you wish.

Unfortunately, this is as much of a curse as it is a blessing. Without a schedule, a couple of problems may arise. First, you might not get much done early in the day, leading to a mad rush as the day closes to finish up all of your essential tasks. This is a stressful situation, and the quality of your work will probably decline, as well. 

The other problem that can come from not establishing a schedule is running into conflicts with others who may live at home with you. For instance, if your kids rely on you for transportation, or for help with their schoolwork, you’ll need to build that into your day. Creating a schedule for your at-home work, just as you would do if you were in the office, is going to make everything feel much easier.

#2 – Make Important Investments

When the pandemic began, you probably already had a computer at home. Technically, you may not have needed to add anything to your house in order to get your job done. With that said, it’s smart to consider some basic investments that can improve your work productivity and help you enjoy your time along the way.

Having a comfortable, dedicated workspace is extremely important. Do you need to buy a new desk? Or what about a better office chair? Even investing in something as simple as some decorations for your home office can make you feel a lot better about spending so much time in that one room.

#3 – Stay Physically Active

You probably don’t think of working at a desk in an office as being a particularly physical job. And to be fair, it’s isn’t that physical when compared to many other professions. However, even working at a desk in an office requires you to get to and from that office, and you probably get up to walk around the office at least a couple of times each day.

If you are now working from home, many of those minor moments of physical activity have been eliminated. You may have to walk only a matter of steps to get to the restroom, or the kitchen. You no longer need to walk from the parking lot to the building, and you may eat your lunch right there at your desk.

It’s important to combat these changes by being more intentional about fitting in some time to be physically active each day. This doesn’t even have to be formal ‘exercise’, although that’s a good option as well. It could be as simple as picking out a couple of times during the day when you can go outside for a walk, such as getting the mail or taking your dog out. Whatever the case, make it a point to move your body at different times throughout the day so you don’t look back at night and realize you sat still all day long.

#4 – Dial in the Perfect Playlist

In the office, there is always the background hum of activity. There are things going on around you, and the energy that you get from that activity can help spur on your own work. At home, it’s probably pretty quiet. Or, you have children at home and it’s so loud that you struggle to focus. Either way, a great playlist is a good partner when working out of your house.

It can take some time to find the right playlist for your work needs. Obviously, you want it to be music that you enjoy, but playing too many of your favorites while you are trying to work might be distracting. Consider having a couple of playlists that you can switch between depending on the task at hand. For demanding tasks that require serious focus, lean toward relaxed, peaceful music with no lyrics (or minimal lyrics). Then, for your ‘busy work’ tasks that don’t require so much thinking, go ahead and crank up some of your favorite tunes, whatever those may be.

#5 – A Work from Home Dress Code

Many people find the lack of a dress code to be one of the biggest benefits of working from home. If you are used to dressing up day after day to go into the office, being freed from that requirement is a nice change of pace.

With that said, consider setting up your own informal dress code while you are working from home. The purpose of this idea is to allow your clothes to help trigger your mind into thinking that it’s time to work. That doesn’t mean your home dress code needs to be formal – it could be pajamas! Whatever you decide to use, try to dedicate that part of your wardrobe to your working hours. This is a simple trick that could help you do a better job of staying on task in your home office.

Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.