Working from home can seem like a real luxury. No travel time, flexible hours and a pants-optional workplace are all pluses but how do you stay productive in a home office environment?
When working from home, it’s important to find ways of maintaining your drive to get stuff done, even when no one is watching. Start by creating a dedicated work space. This can be as simple as defining a specific room or surface as your office. Preferably, not one you associate with leisure. Viewing this home office as your workplace during business hours is a mental association that can support your productivity.
It’s vital that everyone you live with understands that they need to respect your space during work hours. Keep a clear boundary between your work and personal life.
Set your work hours and stick to them. What time of day are you most productive? We all have ebbs and flows, so identify when you get the most done and plan your schedule around it. Save challenging tasks for when you’re in the right headspace and deal with people when you’re at your most alert. Phone calls and meetings require your undivided attention.
Gaining momentum can speed up work you’ll get done. Getting started early is key. Wake up, put on coffee and have breakfast, then dive in. Changing out of your jammies and into work clothes will help get you into work mode.
Structure your day by deciding ahead of time what you’ll be working on. Without planning, you may lose focus. Use your computer’s calendar to create reminders so you know when to switch tasks.
Here are some other tips…
- Work in public occasionally. Somewhere with free WiFi like a café or library can simulate the energy of an office.
- Overestimate how much work you want to get done each day. Even if you come up short, you'll still achieve a lot by knock-off time.
- Listen to music that matches the energy of the project you're working on. Try songs without any lyrics, as they’re less distracting.
- Working from home can leave you feeling cut off from the rest of the office. Use technology to stay connected and productive.
- Set mini-deadlines by using household duties as a timer. Put on a load of washing before you start a task and aim to complete it by the time the cycle is finished.
- Take breaks. Get away from your desk. Go outside. Interact with other humans in real life. Order a coffee, run some letters to the post office. You don’t need to be working 100% of the time to be productive.
By Grant J Everett, Panorama magazine
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