Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you don’t have to put on “real” clothes, you set your own schedule, and you don’t have a supervisor pressuring you to get your work done. On the other hand, you have to be independent and stay productive.
That doesn’t mean that working from home is a bad idea. People master the art of working from home every single day. It’s all about focus and finding a routine that works well for you. Here are some tips that will help you find your own routine, and master the art form of staying productive working from home:
Designate a Work Space
The biggest killer of productivity is not having a designated work space in your home. To be able to get work done in your home, you need to be able to tune out the fact that you’re in your home. You need to treat your home workspace as if you are going to work.
The best way to designate a workspace is to have a home office that is set up comfortably and set aside just for you to work. Obviously, this isn’t realistic for everyone, as some people simply don’t have the space in their home to set aside a whole room. If that’s the case, you may want to reach out to a home remodeling contractor like DuPaul Construction to see if they can help you set up an office in the space you already have. If you have a small apartment but you know that working from home is what you’ll be doing for years to come, it might be time to contact a real estate agent.
Of course, remodeling or moving aren’t always feasible for anyone’s budget. But that’s okay. All that’s important is to have a dedicated space away from distractions.
It is best if your workspace is away from the television and not in your bedroom area. This helps to avoid becoming distracted and messing up your work/life balance. It’s all too tempting to curl up on your new box mattress to get comfy for working, but this won’t help you stay productive. Working from home requires a certain degree of self-discipline. You should have a quiet space set apart from where you sleep or relax. This ensures that you don’t end up conflating your relaxation or sleep habits with your work habits. The last thing you want is to bring work anxiety into life outside of work.
Stay in Touch
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you don’t have coworkers (or a boss, or someone that you’ve got to stay in touch with). When you don’t have the convenience of walking up to a coworker’s desk, you must work extra hard to communicate. Active communication in a workspace is a large part of productivity. Communicating with your coworkers not only keeps business running smoothly, but also keeps you accountable for your work.
With technology these days, there are a lot of different ways to stay in touch with peers while you are working remotely. Here are just a few of our favorite methods of staying in touch while working from home:
- Video chats: You can use Facebook video, Google Hangouts, Skype, and a number of other video chat platforms to keep in touch with your peers throughout the day. This is a great method because you get face-to-face interaction with your coworkers. Just remember that with video chats, you want to keep a professional appearance. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t give you leeway to sit around without grooming. So keep your corded beard trimmer handy, and your collared shirts pressed and cleaned—you never know when you might need to spruce up for a work meeting.
- Email: This is a great way to keep people in the loop, send documents back and forth, and get your point across in writing.
- Texting: While this might seem informal, texting is an awesome way to instantly get in touch with people. Just make sure that it’s alright for those at the office to have their phones before you text them.
- Communication Platforms: There are now any number of communication platforms like Slack or Trello, that help not only to facilitate communication but can also be used to send and share documents.
Another component of staying in touch is sticking to an agreed-upon schedule that works for your whole team. Often, people who work from home are scattered in different time zones, and they might have other things—jobs, family life, etc.—going on that allow less flexibility in their schedules. On top of that, you will probably have deadlines of some sort, even if you are a independent contractor. Working from home means you need to be extremely punctual and you’ll likely need a high-end watch, a planner, and various alerts set on your phone to make sure that you’re always working on time to the dot.
Get Rid of Distractions Before You Start
This seems like a given, but it’s smart to “baby-proof” your workspace of potential distractors. Your home has a lot of potential distractions, including some common ones such as:
- Children: If possible, you should keep children out of your work space. While sometimes emergency situations can arise, such as a sick kid who has to stay home from school, it’s important to make sure that your children are being taken care of while you work, so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Pets: Put your pets away before you start working, so your cat walking across your keyboard doesn’t distract you or mess up your work.
- Deliveries: Sometimes it’s best to pretend that you aren’t home when the FedEx delivery person comes knocking…
- Chores: This doesn’t mean you have freedom to skip out on household chores, but it does mean removing the items from your workspace that will remind you of the chores you have to do. If you’ve got an ironing board set up in your office, maybe it will remind you that you need to look into a new steam generator iron. Don’t get distracted! Put those items and chores out of sight and out of mind.
Working from home is not all lounging and relaxing all day without a care in the world. Sure, you might be able to reduce your appointments with a gastroenterologist once you eliminate the stress of working in a corporate office, but it won’t always be stress free. By knowing how to stay productive, however, you can keep the stress to a minimum.
Staying productive while working from home is not impossible. With some effort and a few expert tips, you’ll be working from home like a pro in no time.