Posted on Monday 6 May 2013
Working from home is great, right? You can leisurely make coffee, check the news, stay in your pajamas, and…Oh, look! Your favorite site has some updates … wait, what were we doing? Oh, right – working from home! It can be tricky to be productive when working from home, but with these tips, you are sure to be a productivity master.
- Have a work schedule. If you don’t set aside a specific time to work every day, you will not work. Set your alarm to get in the morning and give yourself a fixed amount of time before you start working. If you tell yourself “oh, I’ll start on that later,” later is going to be tomorrow and you may not get it done. You can set your schedule in a way that works best for you. For example, you might want to do a few hours of work in the morning, maybe 8:30 to noon, then take a long afternoon break and then take another round of work from 3:00 to 7:00. Know your own rhythms, but create a solid schedule that you can hold yourself accountable to.
- Have a dedicated work area. When working from home, you need to have a place that is designated for work. Your brain associates different places with different activities and states of mind. When you get in bed, your brain knows it’s time to sleep and your brain should also learn that when you go to your work station it is time to work. If your house or apartment doesn’t have a good work area, take up residence in a local café or library for part of the day. This has the added bonus of getting you away from household distractions like dishes or things that suddenly need to be organized when you have a lot of work to do.
- Set goals and make to do lists. At the end of your workday, make a list of all the things you need to get done tomorrow and put it in a prominent place where you can see it (I have a whiteboard on my wall for this purpose). A list serves as a reminder of what needs to be done and can help you to not procrastinate. On your to-do list, you can also list daily and/or weekly goals for things you need to accomplish. With this system, you recognize that there are some things that are going to take more than one day. If you know you need to get a report done by Friday, make it Monday’s goal to research, Tuesday’s to organize your notes, etc.
- Let people know you’re in work-mode. If you have family or children at home during the day, make sure they understand that you have things that have to get done. Explain to them that just like they wouldn’t drive to your work place and barge in to ask what happened to the laundry soap, they shouldn’t interrupt your at-home work. If you have friends who are available during the day, they too need to understand that you have work to do and you can’t go out for lunch/shopping/day trips to the beach whenever you feel like it.
- Keep in touch with colleagues. Maintaining communication with your boss, coworkers, or clients is critical to the success of working at home. Establish a schedule for communication, like a morning email to the boss to make sure you’re on the right track or a weekly update for clients.
With these few guidelines, you can be sure that working from home can be en exercise in productivity. A dedicated list of things-to-do with clearly set goals can go a long way, especially when there are additional distractions that you may not experience while in an office.