How To Be Productive Working From Home
Over 4 million people now work from home. While many are running home-based businesses, adjustments to work patterns and greater flexibility, mean that more and more of us are choosing to work from home on either a full-time, part time or occasional basis.
Not everyone can cope with working from home, they enjoy the buzz of the office environment and collaborating with colleagues. But if you do decide you need to avoid the distractions of the office and work from home – either permanently or occasionally, here are a few ways to keep you focused and productive.
Be clear about your reasons for working from home
Whether you need to:
– complete a specific piece of work
– find time for strategic thinking
– start/end of year planning or reviews
– catch-up on a backlog.
Create clear boundaries between work and home – not just physically but mentally
It can be too easy to stay in bed with your smartphone, tablet or laptop, spend the day on the sofa or trying to multi-task – working while engaging with (or getting distracted by) the others around you or going off to do chores or DIY tasks while you’re ‘at home’.
Create a space
It might be your kitchen or dining table, a corner of a spare room or if you’re lucky – a dedicated room in which you can work. You need to have a space in which you feel comfortable working and have what you need to hand. Occasional home-working is fine with a temporary space but if you regularly work from home create somewhere more permanent.
You’ll feel more professional and have the right mindset if you ‘dress’ for work. You don’t have to put on a suit or your usual work attire but at least get out of your PJs. Comfortable and casual is fine.
Go to the office
Don’t just walk upstairs/downstairs to your home office. Take a walk around the block, go out and get some exercise first or ‘arrive’ at the office when you return from the school run. There’s a physical break between being at home and ‘at work’ and you avoid drifting from your home to work environment.
Structure your day
You may want to work a usual 9-5 or 8-6 working day. You might decide to start earlier or later. You’ll stay focused and motivated throughout the day if you set specific start and end times. Avoid drifting into and out of work with no clear start or end time.
If you regularly work from home – create a routine around the start and end to your day or working week. You may decide to work one, two or more days at home and spend the rest of the working week with clients or in the office.
Plan your day
Know what you need to achieve when you’re working from home. Particularly if you’re doing client work – what and how much do you need to complete by the end of the day? While you’re likely to get more done and be more productive without the distractions of the office, don’t over-estimate how much you can achieve in one day.
(If you want to double your productivity be totally focused and motivated, arrange a Massive Action Day while you work from home – let me know.)
There are advantages to working from home so don’t feel you need to slavishly stick to the 9-5. You may want to take a break for the school drop-off and pick-up, only work a half day, take a longer lunch break or work in the evening.
Plan your time if you need to catch up with chores inside or out, want to meet up with friends or spend time with the family. You can still be productive and complete your work tasks for the day.
Take breaks when you need to
But set time limits. You’re more likely to be distracted by the delights of the fridge, another cup of coffee and a biscuit when you’re at home.
Boundaries are particularly important for family, friends and neighbours who may take the opportunity, while you’re working from home, to pop in for a quick chat or an unscheduled visit. They may consider you’re ‘available’ or not really working, even though you are.
Avoid blurring the lines between your work and personal time just because your office is at home – whether it’s the dining room table, the spare room or a dedicated office space.
When you’re working, you’re working. When you’re at home and not working, don’t get distracted by the computer in the corner or the temptation to ‘just check’ your email or messages.
A change of environment is always good whether your usual working environment is at home or in an office. It can help to stimulate ideas and boost your productivity.
If you’re not able to work from home and want some undisturbed time, find a meeting room, local hotel or coffee shop where you can combine a meeting with a couple of hours working – away from distractions and free of interruptions.
If you’d like to create your own working from home structure or you need to find ways of dealing with your own ‘working from home’ challenges – get in touch.