How to be more productive at home

Woman drinking coffee working on laptop

I often find myself procrastinating when I should be finishing a deadline, completing a household chore, or even when reading with the kids before bedtime. Procrastination has been the biggest bane of my life because it has stopped me from improving my productivity at home and at work. We all experience procrastination in varying degrees and distractions like the internet and social media has made it that much easier to waste time rather than get things done.

This article is mostly geared towards those, like me, who work from home and juggle parenting and work duties, often at the same time. For me, it’s about finding the right balance between household duties and my business which is divided into six hours between school drop off and pick up, and often a few hours in the evening as well. I set myself high-value goals which are geared to improving home and work life, and it has taken me almost nine years to get to a point where I feel like I have achieved some sort of a work/life balance now.

So below are my tips on how to be more productive at home:

What is productivity?


To be productive, we need to know what productivity means. Businessdictionary.com defines productivity as:

“The measure of the efficiency of a person… in converting inputs into useful outputs. Productivity is computed by dividing the average output per period by the total costs incurred or resources (capital, energy, material, personnel) consumed in that period. Productive is a critical determinant of cost efficiency.”

So, in business, productivity basically means how efficient you are at what you are producing, and what you receive economically as a result, i.e.output per unit of input. So, the more productive you are at work the more chances you have of increasing your income value.

What about productivity at home?

Woman working on laptop at home

In more simple terms, productivity means using your time and energy effectively to achieve your goals. You can use your time efficiently as well, but if the tasks you are working on are low value or at the expense of high-value tasks then this doesn’t mean you are productive. The primary objective of being productive is to know exactly what you should be spending your time, energy and attention on to improve yourself and your family around you.

Why does being productive matter?

Man sitting at laptop

Consider what it would be like if you could achieve all the high-value tasks you needed to complete in a shorter period, so you have more time to spend with your family. Perhaps productivity will allow you to use your energy on the things that make you happier or even work on tasks that will help you to improve your work and home life. Being productive means that you can manage your daily tasks effectively and still increase your health and wellbeing. And at work, being productive means that you can improve your way of living and earn more income to spend on the things that make you happier.

How to improve productivity

Productivity score - Effici planner

Productivity is going to be different for everyone. Perhaps you’re working on a business project that will provide you with more income in the future. Or maybe you are looking to manage a clean house, and you need to divide your time between the kids and household duties. Or, perhaps you have set yourself a goal to spend more time with the kids, and you need to make sure you free up enough hours every day to do this, while still completing your home and work duties. All these can be managed if you are productive enough with your time. So, how can you be more productive?

A company called Effici created a Productivity Pack to help you increase your productivity and efficiency. The productivity pack is a very straightforward way of achieving your goals and staying productive. Effici offer a subscription service, which consists of a Productivity Planner, which is designed to keep you motivated in achieving your goals, and a Habit Tracker, which helps you form good habits to improve your productivity.

Counterproductive work behaviour

If you are easily distracted by others and yourself, and you’re constantly browsing on social media or staring out of the window, then this is counterproductive to your work behaviour.

You need to first identify what your habits are, both good and bad because these habits have a significant impact on your productivity as well as your general quality of life.

Effici planner habit tracker

As you can see in my daily Habit Tracker above, I get distracted easily, and I end up not working on a task that I need to complete. I found quite quickly that I work well in 30-minute bursts. So I would focus on 30 minutes of pure work on that particular task and then I would allow myself 5-10 minutes to procrastinate. It meant that I was still fulfilling my love for browsing the internet and reading other articles, but not impacting on my time to work on the more essential tasks.

The Habit Tracker will help you set and monitor your habits, as well as generate more effective ones too. Use the Habit Tracker in conjunction with your Productivity Planner (more on this below) to help you become more productive and make these habits easier to form by monitoring them every day. More on forming habits below.

How does the Productivity Planner work?

You have pages in your Productivity Planner where you can set your monthly, weekly and daily goals. These goals help to allocate your time and motivate you to work on the more important tasks so you complete them productively. There is also space for your to-do list if you’re like me and need a to-do list for absolutely everything, and you cross off these tasks as and when you complete them.

Effici Productivity planner

When your Productivity Planner and Habit Tracker are full the subscription service will automatically order you a new one, and you can opt out at any time – there is no tie in charges or yearly subscriptions. At its most expensive, the pack works out at £20 per quarter.

Effici has a great blog and YouTube channel as well which offers tips and information on how to stay productive. Below are some of mine and Effici’s tips on how to be more productive at home.

How to be more productive at home

Woman at home

Everyone is different but following the below tips will boost your health and wellbeing and therefore increase your productivity over time.

Get some sleep

Sleep is key to being productive during the day and being at your very best work performance. Set a bedtime and wake time every day, even during the weekends, and stick to these so your body clock automatically shifts to these times.

When are you at your most productive? Are you an early bird or a night owl, like me? Figure out when you work at your best and set dedicated times according to your productivity. Then monitor those times and find out whether, over time, they work for you. To have an effective good night’s sleep, you should sleep in complete darkness. Remove electronic devices, including your phone, from the room and keep the room just for sleeping, as the blue light that emanates from these devices will keep you awake. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, consider buying a normal alarm clock from Amazon, so you don’t use your phone in the bedroom. I use an eye mask which helps me to sleep in pure darkness. But if you can, invest in blackout blinds, as they help to block out any light coming from the window. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine before bed as well, as they will keep you up and decrease your productivity the next day.

Fit in regular exercise

Exercise helps to keep the heart pumping and will keep your mind and body happy and relaxed. I work out from home 30 minutes a day, and this works for me as I also work from home. But if you need extra motivation, perhaps classes are a good way to keep you motivated. Exercising outside when the weather is nice is a great way to take your mind off your daily tasks and get in some much-needed fresh air which will help to clear the cobwebs in your head. Studies have shown that if you step outside at the very start of your day your productivity increases by up to 70%!

Diet is also just as important as exercise. Make sure you’re eating well and getting your 7-a-day. Try to avoid sugary food and drinks as they spike your sugar levels and will cause an energy crash, which is not good for productivity.

Practice mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation are all about keeping your mind in the present moment, and not to wander off when you need it to focus on your work. It’s a great way to train your brain muscles and help you be more productive in your daily tasks. This is a slow process, so take your time and keep going – you will reap the rewards later. Headspace is a great way to practice meditation, and I have written more about mindfulness and meditation to reduce anxiety which you can find here.

Embrace procrastination and use it as a tool

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge procrastinator and spend a lot of my time wasting time! So, as mentioned above, I incorporated a technique which works for me, and that is to work on my tasks in 30-minute bursts and then allow myself 5 – 10 minutes to procrastinate. You’re not going to beat procrastination, the temptation will always be there. So use your time effectively to get all your procrastinating done and then focus your time and energy on getting your projects done in periods in which you can manage. Try the 30-minute burst and see if that works for you. I wear a fitness tracker, so I set 30 minutes on my timer, and my wrist will buzz when I have finished those 30 minutes. Then I get off my seat, and I take a walk around, scroll on my phone, eat some food or schedule in my exercise.

Effici planner

Take your mind off work for those short few minutes so that you are ready to set another 30-minute timer and tackle your tasks.

Also, if you have deadlines and you set them a few weeks in advance, but you find yourself sitting on that deadline until the last minute, then change your deadline to a shorter period in advance. I find that if I have a deadline coming in a few days, then I make sure I get it sorted in those few days. If I had 3 weeks, I wouldn’t do anything until the last minute!

Use the productivity journal from Effici to reach your goals

Subscribe to Effici’s Productivity Pack here and start recording your habits and tasks so that you know what you’re working on every day. You can set goals, manage your time, and plan your tasks out effectively so you can see what you need to do every day. At the start of each month, specify what you’re going to work on each month. Then within each week, set goals that will contribute to that monthly goal, and each day work on the goals that will contribute to your weekly goals.

Effici planner

I found since using the Effici Productivity Pack that I am so much more productive with my work and house duties because I know what my good and bad habits are and I know what I need to do every day, week and month. But there are a few more things you need to think about before you start on the path to productivity success!

Work out what your goals are and create habits to achieve those goals using the Habit Tracker

What is it that you would like to achieve? Are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to spend less time cleaning and more time working on your business? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Be clear with what you want to achieve and note the point at which you want to get to, so you can create habits to achieve your goal. For example, if you want to lose weight, set times to get to the gym or fit in your workout. If you want to spend more time with your family, then schedule a few hours in the day that is purely for spending time with the family and make sure you don’t do anything else in that time.

If you want to spend less time cleaning and more time working on your business, then use my ‘short work-burst’ method and work on your business for 30 minutes and spend 10 minutes cleaning up a certain area of the house. You can use The Organised Mum’s Method where she talks about cleaning an area in your house for just 30 minutes a day, and this works just as well. I use a method similar to this otherwise I would just end up cleaning all day and spending little time on work.

Use Effici’s Habit Tracker to track the habits that you have identified. Each time you have fulfilled a habit, tick it off. Include your bad habits too like I did and cross-check them off when you have successfully not fallen into those bad habits that day.

Some more tips from parents who are working it at home

“I feel more productive if I put my phone down… I get so easily sucked into irrelevant things on social media that I lose track of what I’m doing and feel like I have to start again. That goes for both work and at home. Once I sit down and just have 5 minutes I don’t want to get up again 🙂” 

themoneysavingmum.com

” I have been an early bird for as long as I can remember. Before Ted arrived, it wasn’t unusual for me to set my alarm at an ungodly hour – 5 am, sometimes earlier – when I had a specific task to turn around.
I don’t have that luxury now… I sometimes have no choice but to work at night, but I always give myself time the next day to review what I’ve produced – because I can’t trust my morning person brain to make anything of quality after 5pm.
You might be completely the opposite, so work with your strengths.

https://onlyteethin.com/2019/01/23/increase-productivity-positivity-working-from-home/

” I am definitely more productive if I stop working for regular breaks. I either do some housework, walk the dog, go for a run or swim or simply play the piano or read a book for 5 minutes. I’m much more able to properly focus on what I should be doing afterwards.”

plutoniumsox.com

“I am more productive if I chunk similar activities together so I’ll set time aside specifically for social media, schedule writing for a different time etc.”

Businessformums.co.uk

“I’m more productive when I actually get dressed and out of my pyjamas. I ‘pretend’ I’m actually leaving the house and prepare in the mornings that way. Well, most days anyway!”

https://muminthemoment.com/

“For me it’s about turning notifications off on my phone/email. That way I don’t get distracted and actually get things done.” 

https://www.scandimummy.com

“I think a really great way to be productive is to have your to -do list written our and on your clear and clean desk the night before. It means you start the day with absolute clarity of purpose.” 

https://thrifty-home.co.uk

“Having a daily theme helps me so I know what to focus on that day. Then on the day, I prioritise e.g. Blog Day.”

Mamamei.co.uk

“I recommend a to-do list. Either online using something like Trello or just on paper. It helps to write down everything you need to do and then tick off as you go.” 

www.meandbmaketea.com

“Break the day down into blocks then allocate to different tasks. Only check your emails in the breaks between tasks so you don’t get distracted.”

www.allaboutamummy.co.uk

“Working from home can be distracting when you have a mountain of washing or other household tasks. I often take myself off to a nice cafe with free WiFi so I’m then totally focused on work. A good coffee and slice of cake is a good reward.” 

Www.redkitedays.co.uk

“I make a list the night before my day off so I don’t procrastinate/waste time in the morning deciding what to do. I feel that way I get up knowing exactly what I’ve got to get done!” 

www.dovecottageblog.com

“Don’t go for the false economy of not buying some of the productivity tools out there. The money you save not doing so is far outweighed by the increase in time you have if you use them. Tools like Tailwind, Buffer, Missing Letter are a godsend for me. And – have a set time to check your emails. Absolutely DON’T have it open all day distracting you 😂😂” 

https://www.kiddycharts.com

“Try and set certain tasks up the night before, such as the washing machine or dishwasher! By the time you then come downstairs in the morning, some of your tasks will already be done – resulting in more time for other tasks or a 5 minute sit down.” 

lesbemums.com

“A daily to do list, that I update each evening and morning is my main ‘productivity tool’, it really helps me focus and get things done!” 

Www.redtedart.com

Starting something is probably the hardest thing to do, so the only way to start is, well, to start! Subscribe to the Productivity Pack like I did and start recording your habits. Plan your goals in the Productivity Planner and write out your monthly, weekly and daily goals. Set yourself a target of 30 days to complete your habit and focus on tracking that habit every single day. After a few weeks, you will start to form your habit naturally as you have focussed on fulfilling that habit. You just need to find the motivation to start and what better time to start than now?

*I was provided with an Effici productivity planner for review, but all opinions are 100% my own*

*Contains affiliate links*

Leyla Preston (595 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 8, and Aidan, 7. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked! You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: https://www.facebook.com//groups/motherhooddiaries/