Working from home requires a lot of discipline.
It’s so easy to get caught up in distractions, chores, and the hundred other things vying for your attention. So, what is the secret to staying productive and getting stuff done?
First off, there isn’t a magic bullet.
What works for one person might not work for someone else. This means the key to staying productive when you work from home is to understand what works for you. Consider what sort of environment you work best in. And make time to ensure that’s the environment you create for yourself. As part of those considerations about what works for you, you might want to think about the following tips…
1# Keep your workspace and personal space separate.
Not being able to focus on your work isn’t fun. Nor is not being able to leave work. Knowing when to switch off is important for your health, happiness – and productivity (so you can return refreshed and reinvigorated later).
Define the boundaries – whether time-bounded, or by creating a dedicated desk or, ideally, a home office.
2# Do you work best in clutter or in an organized environment?
If you need the clutter, (and it’s not interfering with the rest of the household) then keep the clutter. Understand what works for you and don’t be afraid of that.
3# Do a paper purge.
Even the most intentionally cluttered environment needs a paper purge from time to time. Set regular time aside for yourself to keep on top of what you need and what you don’t need.
4# Have a filing system.
Filing doesn’t have to be complicated. Make it easy for yourself: designate a box you can throw all those receipts into, or a system of color-coded envelope folders that relate to different accounts.
5# Dressed for success?
Getting dressed as you would to go into the office even when you aren’t, can positively affect your mood, the way you speak with customers and colleagues – and your productivity.
If you need an extra boost to put yourself in a more professional mindset or get started in the morning, give it a try.
6. Eating the frog.
That doesn’t mean you should get dressed for success straight away. I mean, why work at home, if you can’t loll about in your pyjamas at least a little bit?
Try launching yourself into a project as soon as you get up, before anyone else has reached the office. It can be a great way to cross off key items on your “to-do” list and secure some quick wins without distractions.
It’s only when your focus starts to wane that you should take a break and make yourself some breakfast or take your time getting dressed.
7# Get comfortable.
There’s little point working from your home if your health and productivity are being detrimentally affected by a poor workspace.
Make sure your desk is the right height, invest in an ergonomic chair, or even consider getting yourself a standing desk.
8# Mirror your schedule.
If you spend part of your time in the office and part at home, try to replicate your office schedule at home.
This way, your team know when you are available to talk, and you can focus on getting things done when you are most effective.
9# Experiment with co-working spaces, coffeeshops, and other public spaces.
If you’re self-employed or otherwise have no choice but to work at home, yet find you just aren’t as productive as you would be in an office, you could consider trying out local coworking spaces, public libraries, or coffeeshops.
Does the buzz and vibrancy, or the presence of other people, help you stay more focused?
10# Plan a schedule.
If you just can’t stop thinking about the pile of washing mounting up, or how badly the stairs need vacuuming, set yourself some limits. Plan out a timetable for jobs, work, and downtime, and make sure you stick to it.
11# But don’t be dogmatic about it.
If you need a break, take a break. There’s no point sitting at your desk, if you feel your concentration waning.
Exercise can boost your focus.
Get up, take a walk, go for a bike ride, or get out and talk to people until you are revived and ready again to focus.
12# Make sure everyone else knows your schedule.
If other people are in the house with you, work out a signal so they know when they can and can’t interrupt – whether it is shutting the office door, putting on your headphones, or simply setting some time limits.
13# Don’t let social media interrupt either.
Don’t log in, remove them from your toolbar, switch off your notifications, or try downloading a productivity app that temporary blocks messages, updates, and emails.
14# Find the right tools to help you stay connected with your team mates.
There is a vast range of productivity apps available to help teams work together more effectively. Experiment, and find the ones that work for you and your team.
15. Know when to switch off. Don’t let your work life bleed into your personal life.
Tiring yourself out, and working at the expense of your personal life, isn’t going to make you more productive in the long term.