Working from home can be one of the most rewarding aspects of building a career. There’s nothing like the autonomy and freedom that comes with working remotely.
Sadly, there is a downside to this otherwise super awesome situation. While working from home has tons of advantages such as no commute, no one micro managing your time, and the flexibility to work the way you want, it can be very easy to become a little too comfortable. There’s no one around to keep tabs on you and make sure you get in to “the office” on time, and there’s certainly no one around making sure you stay on task.
The ultimate challenge to working from home is managing your time and maintaining a level of productivity in an otherwise comfortable setting. Here are some techniques to help boost your productivity and ensure you stay on task all day.
Dress For Work
One of the easiest ways to trick your brain into going into “work mode” is to get up, shower, and get dressed for work, even if you don’t plan on seeing a soul all day. Not only will this force you to wake up at a reasonable time, but the practice of dressing for work puts you in a mindset of professionalism.
I’m not saying you have to wear a suit everyday, but lounging around in pajamas all day is a surefire way to kill productivity. Dressing for work is also an amazing way to subconsciously tell yourself that you are worthy of great things – you and your time are worth more than mere sweats.
Have A Distinctive Workspace
Another important trick is to set up a separate workspace in your home. It can be difficult to separate work time from personal time when all of your activities take place under the same roof, and your brain needs to know “it’s time to get work done” in order to be productive.
Setting up an office in a completely separate room is the best way to accomplish this. If that’s not an option, a distinctive work space will have the same effect. This can be as simple as setting up a desk in a separate corner of your living room.
This may be the most important thing to maintaining productivity when you work from home. Setting expectations and boundaries is key to ensure you can truly remain in work mode all day. It can be very easy to get pulled away from work and tell yourself you’ll get to it later. The problem is, later rarely comes.
It’s easy to grab lunch with that friend, sleep in a little bit too late, or run that one errand that somehow turns into five. If you live alone, set boundaries for yourself to ensure that you are working during designated hours, as well as a set amount of hours per day or per week. This can be achieved with a to-do list, timekeeping, or simply saying no to other things.
If you live with other people, be sure to set appropriate expectations for your roommates or family members by letting them know that during your designated work hours, you are not available just as would be the case if you were working from an office. That means no changing diapers, walking the dog, fixing the TV, etc.
Setting boundaries requires tons of discipline and is absolutley crucial to keeping yourself on task and productive.
Do The Hardest Stuff First
Some of the best advice I’ve ever heard came from a lifestyle coach who said, “Swallow the frog.” It’s a common productivity hack that lots of gurus like to claim, and that’s because IT WORKS. The phrase comes from a quote by Mark Twain where he states, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Twain is saying that when you do the worst thing first, then the rest of the day seems easy by comparison. Doing the most difficult tasks first frees your mind to focus on the things you enjoy or would much rather do for the rest of the day. It also allows you to perform all tasks more efficiently since you’ll have the most mental energy for the difficult things at the beginning of the day.
Turn Key Tasks Into Habits
Writing is something that I do every day, so the task itself no longer feels that difficult or time constraining. Why? Because it’s a habit.
Reflect on your goals and determine the key tasks that are going to move you forward. Decide to turn those tasks into habits to ensure you are doing those things every day. This will ensure that your day is filled with valuable and productive activities, and they will get easier and easier to perform as the habit becomes engrained.
Despite the awesomeness of working from home, things can start to feel a little monotonous and for some, it can become lonely. Be sure to take frequent breaks to give yourself the mental rest and social stimulation you need.
Go for a jog, workout at the gym, go to lunch, run an errand. I try to get out of the house at least once a day, and take frequent breaks to get up and walk around to break up the monotony of being home all day. I find that even just going in my backyard for a few minutes can make a huge difference in refreshing my mind and mood, allowing me to work better for the rest of the day.
Be sure to follow @eleven_online on Twitter and let me know what I missed. What time management or productivity tricks do you use when working from home?