Career Development

How to Stay Organized When You Work at Home

February 22, 2021

As the world becomes more digitally connected, it's becoming more common for people to work from home. When working from home, it's important that you have techniques to stay organized and productive despite the challenges that may arise in this work setting. Finding an organizational system can help you stay focused and more motivated while working from home. In this article, we discuss the importance of staying organized as a remote employee and share how to stay organized when you work at home.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Working From Home

Why is it important to stay organized when working from home?

Staying organized when working from home is an important part of being productive and motivated as a remote employee. Similar to working in an office, when you work from home, you need to find a balance between home and work life. The extra challenge is that as a remote employee, you're more immersed in your home life. By staying organized and setting some rules, you can focus on your job during work hours and unwind when you are off the clock.

Related: 7 Challenges of Working Remotely and How to Overcome Them

How to stay organized when working at home

Follow these tips to stay organized and improve your productivity while working remotely:

  1. Create a work schedule.
  2. Plan out your tasks.
  3. Set rules for your household.
  4. Limit distractions.
  5. Turn off notifications.
  6. Make a work-friendly space.
  7. Clean outside of work hours.
  8. Keep a tidy desk.
  9. Separate workspaces from family spaces.
  10. Find a planner that works for you.
  11. Use noise-canceling headphones.
  12. Listen to calming music.
  13. Prioritize your work.
  14. Organize your computer's toolbar.
  15. Get started right away.
  16. Find ways to stay connected to colleagues.
  17. Set aside breaks for yourself.
  18. Start meal prepping.
  19. Get ready for your day.
  20. Focus on one task at a time.

1. Create a work schedule

Add some structure to your day by deciding when you will start and end work each day. Having a work schedule can help you plan your day better. It also helps you create a divide between your work and home life. When you are on the clock, you should try to mostly focus on work-related tasks and communications. Likewise, outside of working hours, you should turn off work notifications to focus on home life.

2. Plan out your tasks

Before getting started on your work, plan out the order of your tasks for the day. This can help you stay more organized since you have a better idea of what you need to get done for the day. Leave some room in your schedule for unexpected things such as phone calls, work emails or more urgent tasks.

3. Set rules for your household

As a remote employee, you need to communicate the importance of a distraction-free work environment to those you live with. This tip is especially important if you have children. Let everyone know what your work hours are and when it is appropriate to get your attention. Make it known that you need a quiet, clutter-free workspace.

4. Limit distractions

Although working from home offers people more flexibility in their workday, one challenge remote employees must overcome is the distractions that can come with working from home. You may feel inclined to tidy up your home or do a few errands. Family and friends may also be a distraction, so let them know you are only available outside of work hours. Try to remember that you are on your company's time and you should solely focus on work.

Read more: How to Improve Focus in the Workplace: Strategies and Tips

5. Turn off notifications

Limit other distractions such as phone or social media notifications. Consider silencing your phone during working hours or setting a social media blocker on your computer browser. If you want to check your personal communications during working hours, save it for your lunch break. Limiting these distractions can help you stay focused and present with your work.

6. Make a work-friendly space

Set up an actual desk area rather than working from your bed. Choose a desk and chair that are ergonomically designed, so you can work comfortably all day. As you work, your feet should be flat on the floor and you should sit upright. Keeping good posture can help you decrease stress on your body.

7. Clean outside of work hours

Creating boundaries between work tasks and household duties is an important part of being a productive remote employee. A quick vacuum or washing some dishes may seem harmless, but as you add more chores to your workday, this time can add up. Try to save these household tasks for time outside of work.

8. Keep a tidy desk

Keeping your desk free of clutter and dust can help you feel more relaxed during work. Find a system that helps you keep your documents organized. For instance, a file cabinet with a labeling system may help you stay organized. If most of your files are on your computer, find a digital filing system to keep them organized.

9. Separate workspaces from family spaces

Separate your workspace from your family spaces to maximize your productivity. People who work in offices get to physically leave work each day, making it easier to forget about work for the evening. Since working from home doesn't allow this physical distance, you should try to dedicate an area of your home to work. Then, when you are off the clock, you can leave this area and feel less connected to work and more focused on your family or personal life.

10. Find a planner that works for you

Planners are a great way to keep track of deadlines and daily tasks. Some people prefer a paper planner so they can have the satisfaction of crossing off tasks they've completed. Digital planners or apps are also useful because you can set notifications for yourself. Each type of planner can be helpful depending on your working style.

11. Use noise-canceling headphones

If you live somewhere with audible distractions, consider wearing noise-canceling headphones to stay focused on your work. When wearing them, make sure to keep the volume low to protect your hearing.

12. Listen to calming music

Calming music can help you focus and limit distractions. Find a playlist that has instrumental songs or music you don't know. This can limit your urge to sing along and become distracted. Relaxing background music can help you tune out any other sounds around you.

13. Prioritize your work

As you plan your tasks for the day, consider which ones are the most important. If you have a project that will take you a long time to complete, think about how you can break it into different segments so you can get other work done in between. When prioritizing your tasks, think about your goals for the day and the week. This can help you determine what order to do your work.

Read more: How to Prioritize Tasks in the Workplace

14. Organize your computer's toolbar

Your computer browser's toolbar is where you can bookmark webpages that you use often. Instead of searching for a website, you can simply click on it in your toolbar which can save you time. Learn other shortcuts on your browsers such as its history and recently closed features. These features are helpful when you accidentally close a webpage.

Related: Organizational Skills: How to Develop and Use Them

15. Get started right away

Make it your priority to start work shortly after you wake up so you can enjoy the remainder of your day after work. Find out when you are most productive and then make sure to work during this time. For example, you may be more productive in the morning and then start to slow down after lunch.

16. Find ways to stay connected to colleagues

Staying connected to colleagues may help you feel more invested in your workplace. Getting to know them can help you create a support network if you ever have any questions or concerns about your job. Set aside time to message your coworkers or see if anyone would want to meet for a video conference to get to know each other better.

17. Set aside breaks for yourself

Give yourself breaks throughout the day to help yourself recharge between tasks. Many employers give their full-time employees a lunch break and then one or two additional 15-minute breaks throughout the day. Use these breaks to unplug and eat a healthy lunch or go on a walk to move around a little.

18. Start meal prepping

Meal prepping is when you prepare many meals at once, typically for the entire week's worth of meals. It's a great way to prepare for your workday, and it helps you limit cooking during working hours. Find fun new recipes to keep your meals more interesting. Casseroles, chili and soup are meals that you can easily divide up for the week.

19. Get ready for your day

Although rolling out of bed and working in your pajamas is one of the luxuries of working from home, you may want to consider how often you do this. Getting ready in the morning by showering, getting dressed and eating breakfast is a way to mentally prepare for a day of work and wake yourself up. Think of all the time you save from not having a commute, and use some of this time to start your day right.

20. Focus on one task at a time

Rather than trying to multitask, focus on one task at a time to stay organized. This way, you can devote your full attention to a task and do better work. Working on one task at a time can also help you feel more relaxed.

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