Whether you are self-employed or have a telecommuting arrangement with your company, working from home is both a blessing and a curse. It can be a challenge to meet your obligations and stay productive.
Here are 11 tips to be productive while working from home:
Create a dedicated workspace.
A separate room in the house with a closing door or a small building outside is ideal to create a home office. If a separate space isn’t possible in your home, find a semi-private space or use a room divider to provide a lesser degree of separation. Decorate according to your tastes and keep the space clean, clutter-free, and Skype-friendly.
Assemble all of the materials, paperwork, supplies, and tools you may need in one organized location. This includes beverages and snacks. Needing to search the garage for the printer paper or grab a bottle of water from the kitchen will cost time and allow for additional distractions that occur when you leave your dedicated workspace.
Use high-quality equipment.
A reliable computer, phone, printer, wireless router, etc. are important to stay productive. Based on your requirements and resources, invest in the highest quality and longest lasting equipment you can afford. Replace and upgrade each piece over time as needed.
Buy an ergonomic chair or a standing desk.
Sitting may be killing you slowly, but if you prefer to sit instead of using a standing desk, at least use an ergonomic chair. If you are going to sit for many hours each day it’s worth spending some money on a good chair.
Use noise-canceling headphones.
Even with a closed-door office, noisy distractions can easily pull you off task. A young child doesn’t always respect the need for focus and silence, and other outside noise, like mail delivery or the ice cream truck, can make your mind wander to other, non-essential things.
A morning shower, shave or makeup, and professional attire can make a big difference in how you feel and operate. Just because you can work in your pajamas doesn’t mean you should.
Start the day properly.
In addition to a shower and getting dressed, a big breakfast, workout, or quiet time may be helpful in starting the day properly. Rolling out of bed and right to the computer can create situations where your energy wanes, your mind isn’t on the most important tasks, or you have to stop working to take care of other needs.
Set office hours.
Set and communicate specific hours you will be working each day. Defend this time from distractions and personal tasks. Make sure your clients and/or coworkers know when you’ll be available. Equally important, make sure your children, spouse or significant other, and friends know when you won’t be available.
Take breaks and get outside.
It’s critical to be focused on work, but it’s also critical to take breaks and get outside a few times each day. Your quality of work will improve by stepping away for 15–30 minutes each hour or two. The best breaks for your brain and body involve a quick walk outside for a breath of fresh air.
Create some face time.
Working all day, every day in isolation can eventually lead to decreased focus or total burn out. Video chats or conferences are helpful, but real face time is vital to long-term productivity — even for introverts. Schedule a face-to-face meeting with a client or just hang out at the local coffee shop for an hour.
Shut off the television or don’t.
It may be tempting to watch Days of Our Lives, The Price is Right or a Duck Dynasty marathon, but watching television will only distract you. There is, however, a technique that works for many people to work better while ignoring your favorite movie playing in the background.
If you work from home full- or part-time, please share your best tips with everyone in the comments.