Tips to Stay Productive When Working from Home
A home-based business or job seems ideal, but it definitely comes with its own challenges. Managing time, according to those who work from home, can be incredibly difficult, especially with all the distractions present. If you have a family, it can be hard to ignore their pleas for time with you. Meanwhile, if you live alone, leisure activities such as watching TV or playing computer games so close to your workstation, can easily lure you away from the job you’re supposed to do.
Ensuring productivity when working from home requires intense discipline so that a work-life balance can be achieved. Here are some tips to help you with this:
1. Establish your work hours – Don’t just set a work schedule for the day. Rather, maintain regular work hours because this will prevent your home life from interfering with your work life, creating an atmosphere of professionalism and efficiency. Set reminders on your phone, to let you know when you’ve only got an hour left of your working day.
2. Make your work station off-limits to your family – This is a must for productivity because you can waste a lot of time just looking for things in your work station, that members of your family decided to borrow. It’s imperative to keep the space where you accomplish your job organized. Also, by doing this, you let your family know that the moment you enter your work area, you are not to be disturbed anymore. I also find this helps me, when I work remotely (which can be from anywhere in the world at times), my handbag is my “go-bag” with everything useful I need to do my work – smart devices, business cards, and yes, even for super digital me, a pad of sticky notes and some pens!
At the end of the day, make sure you close the door to your office or workspace, or if you work remotely or in a shared space, pack away your gear so you’re not tempted a few hours later on, just to go check that email you’re waiting for a reply on…
3. Get help when needed – Don’t think that only you are capable of certain things; if you’re overwhelmed by your tasks, seek the assistance of family and friends who have the time, or outsource some of your work. Say, you have a big order from your online shopping site to prepare; get your spouse or your siblings to help with packaging. Or if you don’t have time to organize your calendar, hire a virtual PA, the time you’ll save not procrastinating, you can be out earning more money to pay for those bought-in services. And, if it’s not something you particularly like doing, give it to someone else who’s job they love is doing exactly that!
4. Invest in equipment or systems that can simplify work for you – Know the latest technological offerings for your industry that will allow you to do more in a shorter period of time to boost both productivity and profits. As you no doubt know already, I’m a totally productivity convert, I’ve spent the past couple of years learning a different way of doing things, trying out different apps and tools that super streamline my processes. If you want any suggestions, or need any help, just give us a shout. I’m always happy to spend some consultation time helping you use tech to become more effective. I love it!
5. Identify key hours of the day – This is a great way to streamline efforts and get the results you want. For example, determine the best time for business meetings, or when to call clients. Many have learned that these two are best done in the morning because most people are unavailable during and after lunch. However, learn what works for you and even, if it helps, block out time in your calendar for specific tasks. I know I’m a morning person, so I love to get my productive juices flowing first thing in the morning with tasks like emails and to-do lists to organize my day ahead. I know once 7pm rolls round, if I'm still working, I won’t be at my peak performance. So trust your body and mind to lead you into when is best to do things. If you have the luxury of setting your own calendar, remember to also schedule in fun things too!
Are there any other tips you’d suggest?
For me, when I work from home, or remotely, I find two apps super useful. The first is my task list app, I use Taskary, but you could also use Wonderlist which does similar functions. Set out your 3 main tasks you need to complete today, while you have your first brew of the morning. I now have a ritual where I’ll do this with a calming green tea, before I launch into the day, and start on the caffeine a little later on.
The second app I would highly recommend if you don’t work in a traditional office situation (or even if you struggle to focus during your working day) a Pomodoro process and the app I use that helps me with this is Task Timer Calendar, but if you're on iOS, I’d recommend Flat Tomato. All with the Tomato theme because the whole idea came about because of the tomato shaped kitchen timers most of us used to have in the 90s! The concept is you time yourself to focus on a single task for 25 minutes, then give yourself a break of 5 minutes. Then do this in rotation 4 times, then have a longer break. This enables you to focus on the task in hand single-mindedly, but then you also don’t have to worry that time is getting away from you, as you’ll have the timer to remind you to stop for a while. In this time step away from your task, or computer, and do something different, do a bit of exercise, get outside for a breath of fresh air, do some simple yoga, meditation, or even if you’re working from home… dare I say loading the washing machine?!
There are many benefits from working from home, recent studies are showing that we can be more productive working at home, it reduces our commute times to seconds, and you also get less cake-based and office gossip distractions than if you’re seeing your colleagues every day in the office, but you need to remain focused to get the best out of your peaceful calm working environment.