Working from home can be incredibly rewarding and the majority of people who do it find they are much more satisfied with their jobs. But to work from home on a regular basis you must be well organised, have time management skills and be a self-starter.
If you are planning to work from home in the new year, or if you have already started and need help to boost your productivity for 2015, here are some helpful tips.
Office space. Get a room. It might sound obvious, but having a designated workspace in your home is essential. Unlike an office environment, at home there are plenty of temptations and distractions that can easily sap your productivity. A dedicated space allows you to keep your workspace and home separate. It can be as simple as the corner of a guest room. As long as there’s a desk, chair, good lighting, electricity, and internet, your home office will help you stay focused and get work done.
Create a daily work schedule. A common mistake made when working from home is being available to work any time, any day. Try to set well defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails, with boundaries on your personal time. It’s essential to communicate these rules and set times with your family, friends or roommates. It is particularly important to plan your daily tasks based on the time you spend not working, including breakfast, lunch and relaxation time. Make sure you layout the work you plan to tackle during the week and update that list daily. At the end of the week, take the time to plan ahead for next week so you can more easily leave work alone through the weekend and hit the ground running on Monday.
Stay focused. Staying focused can be tricky when working from home. It will test your discipline. The key is to develop habits and rituals that tell your brain you are in ‘work mode’. That means getting up at the same time during the work week as if you were going to an office, having predetermined break times and blocking off times to get up from your desk every now and then.
While there is no need to dress up in a corporate suit and heels, it pays to get out of your pajamas and slippers and into comfortable casual wear that you can wear outside the house. A rule of thumb could be: be presentable enough for a surprise visitor. If you’re physically ready for anything, your mind will be alert as well. This will make you more productive.
Don’t overwork yourself. You need energy and motivation to stay effectively productive, so don’t forget to take your designated breaks. Also, just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you don’t need holidays. Take regular vacations to avoid falling into a rut and to recharge your mind and body. Make sure you keep up with your hobbies and interests. It’s very important to establish and keep up with your exercise routine, even just to get you out of the house.
Make the most of it. Working at home is challenging, so it’s a good idea to cut yourself some slack as you figure it out. Remember it takes more discipline to work at home than it does working in an office. It’s up to you to know what your productivity triggers are and be patient with yourself as you adjust.