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5 Ways to Be Productive Working From Home

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I have no doubt in my mind that working from home is the absolute best way to work. I love the freedom it gives me and I love being available for my family whenever I am needed. As my own boss, I can pretty much do as I wish– although there are consequences, to be sure. Taking a 3-hour lunch may sound great (and, well, it can be), but if you find yourself failing to accomplish the things you need to do, you might want to rethink whether that is in your best interest.

If you are not disciplined, you may find that you are not working to your full capacity. Whether you are running your own online business, or telecommuting, you want your work to be your best, so here are 5 ways to be productive working from home.

Dress for Success

Well, this one may not be popular…Dress for Success

One of the recurring notions about working at home that some people have is that of working in your pajamas, without needing to shave or comb your hair. That might work for some people. If you are focused enough to get away with it, more power to you. But for many people, staying in pajamas, or casual clothes means that they never really get into the proper frame of mind to do serious work.

While you don’t necessarily have to put on a suit and tie to work efficiently at home, at least make the effort to change clothes. This is a way to tell yourself that it is time to get serious and do some work. Save the pajamas for your days off.

Make a Home Office

Much like getting dressed to do your work, having a home office can be a way to tell your brain that it’s time to get focused. People often refer to being “in the zone” when they are doing something well of efficiently. If you are trying to be productive, you want to get in the zone as much as possible. You can do this both mentally and physically if you think of your home office at a place purely for work.

Some people may find that a very plain, even almost sterile environment works well for them. Others prefer to have a few pictures of family, or a dream vacation that they want to take in order to help keep them motivated. Whatever works for you is great. Experiment and see what’s best.

A home office also helps to shut out distractions. If your family is home, or if you have a pet, you may find it easier to work in private and having the ability to close a door and block everything out. Be sure to inform your family that when you are in your office with the door closed, it means that you are working.

They should understand that working at home is the same as working at an office. If a situation arises that they wouldn’t call you at work for, then they shouldn’t seek you out in your office, no matter how tempting that may be.

Plan Your Days and Your Week

One great way to increase your productivity is to make sure that you have a plan. You wouldn’t go on a trip without knowing how to reach your vacation. Likewise, you shouldn’t try to reach your business goals without knowing how you will get there.

Breaking your objectives down into two lists can prove helpful. Have short-term daily goals and longer-term weekly ones. You can also split your objectives further, into Must-Do and Want-to-Do, or something similar. You can then be sure to tackle the most important things first, and if anything is left over, add it to the next day’s goals.

At the end of each day and then again at the end of your week, you can review and see whether you met your objectives or not. If you didn’t accomplish everything, try to evaluate where you went wrong. Did you plan to do too much? Did you get distracted by other things? Adjust your next list accordingly.

Distinguish Between Work and Personal Tasks

When planning out the things you need to do, try to differentiate between your work goals and your personal goals. Your list of work-related goals should not include cleaning the oven, for example. Once again, it is a matter of focus; if you want to work efficiently and meet the goals that you have set for your business, you can’t afford to be distracted by non-work-related tasks.

Chances are that you have more than enough to do already. Schedule your personal tasks to be done after your work-related ones, or schedule a day off during your week, when you can catch up on all of your other projects.

If you are going to be successful in your work, it needs to be a priority.

Take Breaks as NeededTake a Break

Although the previous suggestions aimed at ways to stay focused, something equally important for your productivity is knowing when to relax. Though some might find that it seems counterproductive, sometimes the best way to stay focused on a task is to take a short break from it.

Studies have shown that after three hours of continuous work on a given task, brain fatigue starts to take effect. It is suggested by some researchers that you should take a short pause after 90 minutes of focused effort.

This can be a good way to stay physically active if you get up and move instead of sitting all day. Giving yourself a day off each week also results in an increase in performance when you return to work.

Like any other part of the body, your brain needs time to rest after exertion, so be sure to have a little pause here and there. This is actually one of the great things about being home. You can sit on your couch with a cup of tea, go outside into your garden, say hello to a neighbour, toss a ball for your dog a few times, or anything else that catches your fancy.

Working at home is a wonderful thing, and with so many different ways to do it, you can probably find a way that is right for you. If you want to work at home, you can certainly do so. Just remember that as wonderful as it may be compared to a more traditional job, it is still work, and requires your attention to get things done.

Treat it as seriously as any other job and you will begin to see results.

Have any other thoughts on how to be more productive from home? I’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts down below!

Craig

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Craig Williams

Working online was a dream of mine for several years, and now I am doing it. You can too! I am here to help in any way I can!

16 Comments

Tania

Running a business takes discipline. Your 5 ways to be productive working from home are excellent points to set up and create the right environment for a home based business. The pyjama party get up gave me a giggle but it can be a very bad habit to turn up ‘at the office’ looking sloppy.

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Craig Williams

I fins that sometimes you have to play tricks on your mind to let it know when you mean business.The getting dressed bit has proven to be very effective for me. It’s also a bit disappointing, as I really wanted to be able to work in something more comfortable. Perhaps one day when I am more disciplined.

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Lisa

Craig,

All points that you made in your post are very valid and helpful. I especially like the “take breaks as needed”. I find myself sometimes pushing through and trying to finish a task when I really need a break. I’m finding it is better for me to take a break when I need one, that way I am more productive while I’m working. The task will be waiting for me when I get back and I will have a fresh perspective.

Lisa

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Craig Williams

I think many of us are guilty of trying to keep working long past when we need a break. I know that in the past I have found myself falling asleep at my keyboard because I stubbornly refused to give up until I finished what I started. But it’s very true that the work will still be there when you get back, and you will do a much better job of it if you are rested.

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Paul

Dear Craig,

All the 5 points you discussed on “5 Ways to Be Productive Working From Home” is really helpful.
Since I am working from home your article provided useful me with useful insights.
Dress for success is for sure an important thing to consider many times I take it for granted however I take bath and change dress but mostly its on the middle of the day but going forward will do it in the beginning of the day.

Thanks for this information “Studies have shown that after three hours of continuous work on a given task, brain fatigue starts to take effect. It is suggested by some researchers that you should take a short pause after 90 minutes of focused effort.” it helps I do get headache since I work continuously. Thanks for the advice.
Keep up the great work!!!

Your Friend,
Paul

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Craig Williams

Well, if these tips can help, then I am very happy!

I know that for myself, that comment about fatigue is very true. I often try to push through, but it becomes clear that my productivity falls off pretty quickly as I become more prone to distraction and simply don’t concentrate as well. The workaholics out there don’t like to take breaks, but they are actually important to producing your best work!

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Jim Ferrizzi

I have read several books by great business men both industrial and home based. They all say the same thing about dressing for success, we have to emulate what we want to be.
I agree time management is very critical and currently one of my biggest obstacles due to other obligations, I will continue to work on that. Thank you for another great concise article.
wish you the best success,
Jim ( wolf)

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Craig

Time management is pretty difficult for most people, I think. I personally struggle with it rather often, although that is at least in part because my schedule keeps changing. Once things are more stable, I expect it will be less of an issue.

As for dressing for success, I agree. The more you do to emulate those who are successful, the more likely you are to duplicate their results. I don’t think we necessarily need to put on a suit and tie at home, but switching into “work” clothes is a great way to shift gears in our heads, and signal that it’s time to get down to work.

I appreciate the comment!

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ariel

Hello Craig, this was such a great primer on how to truly work at home. The biggest dilemma for me is that its always here. So I do not do well at giving myself a break. I really have to work on that. I think you are really spot on with treating it like you are truly working. I do get dressed every morning knowing that I am going to work. I even put on jewelry! Thanks for this. ariel

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Craig

That’s great Ariel!

There are so many distractions when working from home. By it’s very nature, we are surrounded by all the things we love, so they can all vie for our attention.

In the past, I have not always been a terribly disciplined person, so it has taken some adjusting, but it’s totally worth it for all the benefits that working at home provides!

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Anthony Hu

Hi Craig, it is timely article for me. I started my home business about two months ago. From a normal 9 to 5 job to home based business I feel there is huge difference and I have a sense that my productivity is low, but it is hard for me to figure out what is exactly wrong. I always hear people brag that they work at home in pajamas, work in flexible hour, do whatever they want etc. After reading your article, I realize that in order to reach high productivity There Are Ways to work at home. I bookmarked your article, I am going to follow your advice starting from tomorrow.
Thanks for sharing.

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Craig

Great! I hope that this helps you in some way.

Obviously, we all think and react differently, but I do feel that by getting into the proper mindset, we will be more productive.

Working without a boss can be more challenging that working with one!

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Annie

This is a great list of considerations to keeping a business mentality about working at home. It is easy to get distracted with “life” when in the home environment. Incorporating your five points into the daily getting down to work time will help maintain an efficient and productive focus on working my business.
Being newer (7 weeks now) to my at-home business, I am finding I am spending every available minute – closer to 40 hours a week than 20 – working at getting it up and running. I look forward to when I can reduce my time investment by having a solid base. The goal is to share, learn and earn, and enjoy more and more of the other aspects of my life! Keeping these points in mind will help to maintain the focus on a long-term balanced basis. Thank you.

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Craig

I certainly hope this does help. Some of us can work in almost any environment, but I think having some structure is beneficial for most people. I am working on setting up a home office, which I feel will be quite helpful for me.

I am sure that you will be able to reduce your work hours in time. You’ll find yourself becoming faster and more efficient as yo go along, which will give you more free time.

Thanks for commenting!

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Jean

Yes, I think it’s probably better to not wear pajamas when working at home. But do you think it’s better to wear loungewear type of clothing or perhaps business casual?

I like the idea of setting weekly goals and having daily goals that match up with the weekly goals as opposed to just a daily to-do list that’s not directly matched to a longer-term goal. Never thought of that before.

Towards the end of your post, you say “treat (working at home) as seriously as any other job and you will begin to see results.” Well, since “real” jobs are generally 40 hours full-time or 20 hours part-time, that would mean that one should work that amount of hours. Well, at least part-time 20 hours a week is a requirement then. I myself have been more haphazard. Now I know what I have to fix as a prerequisite to be successful working at home.

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Craig

Hi there!

For me personally, I do kind of like to stick with lounge wear, but I think the main thing is to make a change of some sort, signalling your brain that it’s time to work. Switching from comfy pajamas to comfy lounge clothes is probably fine, though some people may prefer to go with business casual if it helps to get into the right frame of mind.

If you can put in 20 hours per week, that’s pretty great. Not everyone can, so when I say that working at home should be treated as any other job, it’s more with the idea that when you are working, you should be working. Generally, if we work in an office building, our work hours aren’t spent switching to Facebook every few minutes, or checking “just one” video on YouTube. The fewer hours you have to put in to your business, the more serious and productive you need to be during those hours.

Thank you so much for commenting and best of luck with your business!

Reply

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