How to be Productive Working from Home (the 20-minute rule)

Since the pandemic happened, most of us adopted the hybrid work schedule of going into the office for a few days and working from home some other days. Whilst this is great us employees, it is hard to be motivated and get things done when there’re no coworkers or bosses to keep you accountable so that is why I am going to give you a few tips that personally work for me to show you how to be productive working from home.
If you’re wondering how to be productive working from home, hear me out. After reading a few articles from successful entrepreneurs on tips on how to increase work efficiency, I have put some into practice and discovered the ones that truly work for me. I no longer get overwhelmed when I know I have 8 hours of work to do as I now apply my 20-minute work periods rule. I also use two browser add-ons to keep me accountable and help boost my productivity. So if you’re interested in these methods and tools, keep reading to know how I keep myself from being distracted and tackle all my daily tasks!

Work in a 20-minute period and then take a break

I find that if I know I have all day to get something done such as write an article or send an important email I’ll keep putting it off. Sometimes, a simple task like proofreading an article or going through my emails can take me up to an hour just because I’ll get distracted and check my phone every five minutes! So in order to avoid procrastination and force myself to start and finish a task as quickly and efficiently as possible, I work in 20 minute periods. Now, if you only take away one tip on how to be productive working from home from this article, it has to be this 20-minute work period rule.

How I put this method into practice

The way I do it is: I write down what I want to do (i.e.: write an article) and break down my task into 3 easier and smaller tasks. So if I want to write a blog post I’ll break this task into: 1) write introduction 2) write body 3) revise it and look for pictures. It is then that I’ll set a timer for 20 minutes and do as much as I can in that period of time without leaving my desk or getting distracted until the alarm goes off. Even if 20 minutes is not much, you do get a lot done if you dedicate that time to one single activity and really helps you boost your work from home productivity and motivation as it gets you started.

Sometimes I find myself working over the 20-minute mark because I’ve become so focused on what I’m doing that I can’t be bothered to stop once I’m on a roll! Other times I take a 10-minute break and go again. When I’m too lazy to start working I remind myself I only have to work for 20 minutes and then I can relax for a bit. This rule works specifically well to tackle harder tasks early in the morning that I find will take me longer to finish. The 20-minute rule helps me when I’m at the office and it’s a good thing to try out in order to learn how to be productive working from home and keep you motivated.

Person holding a watch

The browser add-ons I use to help me be more productive

I mainly use two Firefox extensions to keep me organized. And besides having the right mindset, the secret on how to be productive at home and get your work done is the tools you use. Besides Google Calendar and Google Drive, which are a quick and efficient way to find your documents, I use Sticky Notes and Timer to help me plan and perform, respectively. They are really quick and easy to download and both of them stay in your address bar so you have access to them at all times.

Sticky notes helps me jot down any tasks I need to do during the day (and it’s really satisfying to delete them once you've accomplished them!). Timer, on the other hand, helps me carry out a task by working as an alarm and countdown and notifies me when my 20-minute time is over.

As a result of putting these tips and tools into practice I noticed I am much more productive when I work from home. Even if you do not have a specific deadline or your boss next to you to keep you accountable, the above tips are what I can recommend to you in order for you to master how to be productive working from home and get things done!


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