Whether it’s because our employers are adopting flexible working practices, we’ve got to get that urgent job done in the evening or we’ve decided to set up on our own as a freelancer, more and more of us nowadays are opting to work from home.
One of the key aspects of this, of course, is making sure or work day is productive.
If you’ve found yourself reaching for the TV remote, being distracted by household tasks or making yet another cup of tea, you’ll know that the demon procrastination can be a big time drain. There’s no manager watching over you and being your own boss isn’t without it’s challenges.
Tips for Working Productively from Home
Here’s my quick guide to making sure you don’t fall a victim to poor productivity and procrastination:
Set Up an Office
While it might seem cosy to do your work in the kitchen, on the sofa or while lying in bed, creating an office environment is a much better way to ensure you remain focused on what you have to do. Even if it’s just a desk, chair and laptop, make the effort to create a personal workspace that sends out all the right messages. Ideally, you also want this somewhere you’re not going to be disturbed so a spare room is ideal but even a workstation in the living room can make a big, psychological difference. Try to avoid the temptation to wear your “comfy clothes”, dress as if you are going to work, that should help to get you in the right frame of mind!
Keep to Your Hours
The good thing about working from home is that you can be flexible with your hours. The bad news is that this can often lead to varying degrees of procrastination – you’ll just pop down the shops to get some coffee or you notice a job around the house that needs doing.
As much as possible, try to keep to set hours. These have to work for you, of course, but you do need to make some compromises. If you prefer to get your jobs done in one go, then put aside enough time and keep to this agenda. Likewise, if you’re more a night owl than a morning person. The better you fix a set routine, the quicker you’ll find you start work and get finished. It is equally important to finish at a reasonable time.
Maintain a Check List
Keep a list of work you need to do and post it in front of you, either in a diary or pinned to the wall by your desk, there are some great electronic task and project systems that can help, I particularly like Asana. That way you’ll always know what you have to do and can check progress. Break it up into a daily schedule so that you understand what you need to achieve and the deadlines for the work. Setting deadlines is another key to productivity, without a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, the temptation is to leave it until tomorrow – trouble is tomorrow never comes!
If you are working full-time at home it can be easy to feel isolated. Even if you have a family, you’re going to miss out the hustle and bustle of the office. That means you can quickly become jaded. Make sure you get out of the home office occasionally – go to a proactive business network meeting, take a walk during your lunch break, get some fresh air and recharge your batteries. Breaking to do some exercise is not only a great way to stay healthy but can energise and refresh you for the hours of work ahead. Don’t, however, confuse this with procrastination – factor it into your daily schedule.
Sit Down and Start
One thing that many home workers find difficult is actually starting work. Most people find that, once started, the day goes well. But it can be a big hurdle (not The Last Hurdle) to overcome and it can get worse the more you succumb to the procrastination temptations, which will inevitably lead to a backlog of work, a backlog of work leads to that horrible Overwhelm – to be avoided at all costs. Focus on beginning and get into the habit of starting your work day at a set time each day. It may sound strange but it will definitely ensure you stay productive.
Why not share your own tips for working from home productively? How do you do it?