Working from home is the dream. Imagine a job where you can set your own hours, sit at your computer in your pyjamas and make lunch in your own kitchen. While that all may sound like a dream come true, the reality is that working from home can have some major productivity drawbacks. Your home is a mass of distractions that can have a negative effect on how much you get done in a day’s work.
So, how can we stay productive during the working day to ensure we are working as efficiently as we can when we don’t have a boss peering over our shoulder? Read on to find out my top tips!
1. Define your working hours.
The beauty of working from home is that no one knows when we really work. Personally, I get really inspired at night and I find it’s when I am at my most productive. But if you want to make it in the world of business, you’ve got to work business hours whether you like it or not. Define the hours you’ll be working, define your breaks throughout the day and treat it as though you are in an office. Just because you work at your best at three in the morning, doesn’t mean your clients will appreciate that. You need to define your hours, make sure your clients are aware of your hours and then be available during those hours in case anyone needs to get in touch with you.
2. Get dressed.
While sitting around in your pyjamas may feel like part of the dream, it’s not going to have a great impact on how productive you are. Getting ready in the morning before you begin your working day will put you in the right mindset for a day’s work. The beauty of this is that you can still wear casual attire, even yoga pants. No one will see you, but you’ll feel much more prepared for your day.
3. Have a workspace.
If you’re lucky enough to have a home office, this will be much easier for you. Try to have somewhere in your house that is your space to work. It may be an office, or it may just be a desk. Keep this space free of anything non-work related, where possible. Setting up an area in your home just for working in will give you the opportunity to step into that ‘work bubble’. When you’re in the bubble, your mind will know you are supposed to be working and that anything beyond your bubble can be ignored until lunch or the end of your day.
Make sure you set a schedule for your day. It doesn’t have to be an exact art, just a rough outline for the day ahead. Having a defined timeline of tasks helps to keep you focussed and on track. Set yourself short-term and long-term goals so that every time you check a task off your to-do list you realise that there is something bigger you are working toward. Keeping to a schedule and not going off track is the hardest part about working from home, but the only way to do it is to be strict with yourself. This is your job.
5. Take breaks, and define an end to the day.
Don’t work through your lunch just because you can. Don’t continue replying to emails at the end of the day just because you can. Learn to disconnect yourself from work – otherwise, you will burn out. I’d suggest going even further and taking a short mid-morning and mid-afternoon break. Make yourself a coffee, step away from your computer and just relax away from your work bubble for 10 minutes. When you switch off your computer at night, make sure you switch off your mind, too. Don’t be tempted to work into the night just because the tools are there. Not getting time off in the evening will just make tomorrow much less productive.
Make sure to take the time to relax on the weekend and schedule holidays and days off throughout the year. It can be all too tempting to work every possible hour, but taking time off is essential to staying motivated and productive.
6. Ignore the distractions of your home.
Just because you are in your home doesn’t mean you have to work on your house. When you’re feeling a bit burnt out or demotivated, that DIY project you’ve been avoiding for months can suddenly become very tempting. You have got to be strict with yourself. When you are in your work bubble, during working hours, you must work. Remind yourself that the time you save by not having to commute home is the perfect time to fit in extra housework – not when you’re supposed to be focussed on a project.
The freedom to schedule your own time is great, but it’s also easy to dismiss or procrastinate tasks because you have no one to report to. Make sure that during your working time, work is your priority.
7. Take time to enjoy working from home!
Being your own boss is liberating. Being at home during the day is a great opportunity to spend more time with your family, your kids, your pets. Saving time not having to commute is the perfect excuse to schedule in some you-time. There is so much to love about working from home and when practised right can be really productive and enjoyable, sometimes more so than the atmosphere of an office. But like many things, it is what you make of it. You’ve just got to learn to balance it correctly with the home life that’s going on around you.