The shift from in person office work to telecommuting is one of the biggest stories of the past couple of years. Driven in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns, the move to at home work was sudden, chaotic and fraught with productivity problems.

Many workers were unprepared for the sudden shift, and productivity often suffered. Now that the dust has settled, however, a great deal has been learned, and telecommuters have access to a wealth of resources that can improve their productivity to, and past, their in office levels. Here are some simple things you can do to improve your productivity when you work from home.

Fight the Procrastination Monster with the Five Minute Rule

It is easy to put off unpleasant tasks when you work from home – after all there is no boss hovering over your shoulder and no nosy coworkers asking for constant updates. The remote work environment all but guarantees procrastination, but you can fight back with the five minute rule.

If you want to beat the procrastination monster at his own game, use the five minute rule. This rule tricks the brain into doing what it had been avoiding, five minutes at a time. Just devote five minutes to the task you had been putting off, then continue for another five minutes and so on. Before you know it that unpleasant task will be behind you, and you will be ahead of the game.

Set Up a Schedule

When you were at the office, you worked on a set schedule, with assigned times for showing up, leaving and eating lunch. It is easy to let those timelines slip when you work from home, and that can drain your productivity and cause problems with your boss.

If you want to stay productive while working at home, start by recreating your old schedule as much as possible. Setting a time for everything, from checking your email to filing project updates, is a great way to improve the productivity of your home office.

Embrace Monotasking

It is easy to think that multitasking will help you get more done and aid your productivity, but study after study has shown this is not the case. The human mind can only focus effectively on one thing at a time, so abandon your attempts at multitasking and embrace the monotasking model instead.

Focusing on one task at a time is far better for your productivity, so give it a try and see how it goes. Montasking allows you to devote your entire range of attention to one task at a time, checking each item off your to do list until everything has been done.

Prioritize Your Inbox with Bright Colors

Having some visual cues can be great for your productivity, and a more productive home office could be as close as some color coded folders. Assigning colors to the various priorities in your workday is a great way to get more done and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

You can use a simple green yellow and red color coding model or get fancier with additional colors. No matter which option you choose, this color coded prioritization practice is sure to be a boon to your productivity.

As more and more employees head home, productivity challenges are sure to grow. Many companies that have embraced telecommuting have experienced drops in productivity and increases in costs, but that does not mean a productive home work environment is impossible – far from it.

With a few simple tweaks to your telecommuting routine and a few brain tricks you can be even more productive while working from home. Just try these tips out for a few days – you will be amazed at the results.