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…
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 Needed
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!