So after all this craziness that is happening around us in the world, you have finally decided that you want to work from home. Congratulations! Good for you! But now you are thinking can I really accomplish that. Sure you can. We can do anything we set our minds to do. I can help you by giving you several pointers on how to stay productive while working from home.
The Unique Challenges Of Getting Things Done When You’re Working From Home
Working from home when you’re used to having your own office, or at the very least a cubicle can be a bit of a challenge. All of a sudden you are in a very different environment that includes your fridge, your washer and dryer, and your TV.
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There’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and the carpet could benefit from some vacuuming. In other words, you’re out of your regular work environment, and thus out of your routine and everything you do to stay productive.
Often your surroundings aren’t the only distraction when you’re trying to get things done from home. People are the other problem. You’ll quickly find out that others don’t respect your time and your workspace when it is right in the middle of your home.
Since you are in your own house, it’s not uncommon for loved ones to stop by, pop in, and ask for all sorts of stuff. Of course, this is even worse when you’re trying to work from home with small children around.
To put it another way, you’ll have to learn to deal with internal and external distractions on a completely different level when you start to work from home. Yes, there are also distractions when you’re working in the office.
Emails come in, the phone rings, and your boss stops by dropping another project on your desk. At home, you’re dealing with a completely different set of distractions because the lines between work and time off blur.
Advantages of working from home
That can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing. Despite the challenges, there are some distinct advantages to working from home. You can react quickly. If something comes up that requires your immediate attention, you can take care of it, even if it’s seven o’clock on a Sunday morning.
Of course, this can also be a bit of a challenge. You’re not exactly clocking out when you’re working from home. A lot of people like the flexibility to be able to work and/or take care of things around the house at any given time.
It’s one of the big advantages of working from home. The challenge is finding the right balance. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself working too much (or all the time), or too little (and have to rush to finish things in time) in the beginning.
It’s a new process. It’s a new situation. It will take some time to get it right. When you do, your productivity both with your work and around the house will skyrocket, because you are no longer wasting time commuting, waiting around on something to finish or a new report to come in. You can make the most of every minute of your day.
Three Tips To Cut Out Distractions When You’re Working From Home
Your biggest productivity enemy when working from home is distractions. You’ll be distracted by that pile of dishes in the sink, the kids playing in the next room, or coming in and asking for a snack, and your mom stopping by for a chat since you’re at home. Your number one goal to increase the amount of work you can do is to cut out distractions. Here are three solid tips to help you accomplish that goal.
Make A List
It’s easier to stay focused and not get distracted by other things you should be working on both for your day job and around the house when you have a list. First thing in the morning, or even better – the night before, make a list of what you need to get done today.
Play around with the length of the list. Some people prefer a shortlist of just two or three main projects that will take up most of their days. Others are more motivated by being able to check lots of tasks off the list.
Start by writing down five things and over the coming days, try expanding that to ten and cutting it back to your top three most important things. Pay attention to what motivates you more and reflect on when you’ve been most productive.
Shut The Door
Next, shut the door. Of course, there’s a little more to it than that. The idea here is to cut out internal and external distractions by keeping people out, taking the phone off the hook (or silencing it), and avoiding the temptation of getting up to empty the dishwasher when you feel like a little mental break.
Instead, take a conscious break by getting up and opening the door to your office. Don’t have a home office? No problem. Pick a spot, ideally with a door. This could be your dining room, a spare bedroom, or your main bedroom with a desk tucked into the corner.
Look around and make it work. A workspace with a door you can close has the added benefit of giving those around you a visual clue that you’re working, which brings us to the last tip.
Let your loved ones know that you’re working and explain that you need to be left to your own devices for a little while. If possible, let them know how long you’ll be working. If you have young children, asking them to go play for twenty minutes while you work on something (hopefully) uninterrupted, can work.
Don’t expect it to happen on the first try or every time. That said, you can train them and yourself to set up these little work sprints that can become highly effective.
If you and your spouse both work from home, try taking turns. Each of you gets a couple of hours of uninterrupted work time while the other one tends to children and housework.
It’s also important to set expectations early on with family and friends. Make sure they know what your working hours are and they shouldn’t call or stop by during those times. The earlier you can set those expectations the better.
Why Working From Home May Increase Your Productivity
Did you know that despite the extra distractions, working from home can actually increase your productivity? If you’ve tried it for yourself, you may have already noticed this. If you’re wondering why, I have some answers for you today.
commute is more than ideal
Let’s start with the most obvious thing. When you’re working from home, your daily commute involves walking from the living room to your home office or maybe it’s just across the room at the kitchen table. You can’t beat that.
Not only does it save you a ton of time that you can use getting those extra tasks done, you also don’t have to deal with traffic, leaving you in a more relaxed and better state of mind when you start to work.
That relaxed feeling will carry throughout your workday. You’re comfortable in your home. You don’t have to dress up in a suit and tie or wear those high heels that make your feet ache at the end of the day.
no dress code
That comfort of being able to show up in yoga pants and your favorite t-shirt translates into a better state of mind and thus better work. It’s easier to make yourself write that report when you’re comfortable.
Working from home also allows for more flexibility than being in an office with others. That’s important for several different reasons. The first and most important is that we all have different times when we’re most productive.
And for many of us, those times don’t fit well into the usual nine-to-five. Maybe you are most effective and productive at six in the morning. Or maybe you’re more of a night owl, preferring to get most of your work done after 10 pm. Working from home allows you to tap into those hours – with a few limitations of course.
make your own hours
The flexibility of a home office also allows you to work around the needs of your family. If your child has a dentist appointment, you won’t need to take time off. Instead, you get your work done before and after.
Depending on your job, you may even be able to work in little hyper-productive spurts throughout the day, dealing with young children, laundry, dishes, and the likes in between.
Most importantly, working from home makes us happy. I don’t have to tell you that content people get more done. Give it a try and see for yourself. Give working from home a try and notice how much more you can get done when you’re happy, comfortable, and in a place you enjoy being in more than the cubicle at work.
Pay Attention To Your Most Productive Hours
Are you a morning person or a night owl? We all have certain rhythms to our lives. When we sleep, when we eat, and especially when we are most productive varies from person to person.
When you’re working from home you have more flexibility with your time than when you’re working set hours in an office. That means you can tap into your most productive time. Why is this important? Because you can get more done in less time, leaving you with more time for everything else you need to do.
It’s also why it’s important to guard those hours and make the most of them. First though, you have to determine when you are more focused and sharper throughout the day.
Figure Out What Your Most Productive Hours Are
To figure out what your most productive hours are, start by thinking back on when you think you get the most done. Write it down. Then it’s time to either refute or back this up with some cold hard data. Grab a notebook, or set up an excel spreadsheet and record what you’re getting done several times throughout the day. This gives you a baseline.
Now it’s time to run a little experiment. This works best if you have a particular task that you can measure. If you create the same type of report regularly, try putting it together at different times throughout the day, timing yourself, and recording it.
If you’re a writer, measure your word output during a set interval. How many words can you write in 20-minute spurts? as an example. Again, you want to do these tasks at different times throughout the day.
Compare your data. Did you do better early in the morning, right before lunch, in the afternoon, or late at night? What you find may surprise you. While we may prefer to work late at night and think that’s when we’re most productive, it may actually turn out to be in the early morning.
Or the other way around. That’s why hard data matters. Look at it and make a note of your most productive time of the day.
Guard Those Hours With Your Life
Okay, that’s a little overdramatic, but the underlying sentiment holds true. You want to do what you can to ensure that there are as few distractions as possible during your most productive hours of the day. If you can, avoid appointments and errands during those times, especially if they are recurring ones.
If you get more done from two to four each afternoon, you don’t want to spend that time picking your kids up from school. If you work best late at night, try not to put yourself into a position where you have to get up at five in the morning.
Tweak your schedule, make arrangements, and do what you have to do to be able to work during your most productive hours. You’ll get a lot done and end up with more time left for family, friends, and everything else you like to do.