There are 2 types of people who work from home:
Those who are productive, and those who procrastinate all day.
Which are you?
If you fall into the second category, or you are a sort of in the second category, read this article.
Working from home provides its own luxuries, but it is also very easy to become lazy and neglect certain tasks.
Working at home is filled with distractions: errands, pets, family members, television, phone, apps and even the couch. When those distractions dominate your time and suck all your energy, you can’t be as productive as you would like to be.
Here are 14 tips that allow you to be just as productive at home as you are in the office (or maybe even more!):
Set your working hours
One good thing about working from home is that you don’t have to work 9-5. If you operate better at night, and you can do your job effectively, start work at 6:00pm. If you prefer to wake up at 5AM, start to work at 7AM. But whatever your hours are, make yourself a routine, and commit to it.
Wake up early
People who work from home like to take advantage of the idea they can sleep as long as they want to. But did you know it takes about two hours for your body to fully wake up and get ready to concentrate and work?
Jumping into work right after you wake up doesn’t give your mind and body time to prepare and adjust, and can negatively impact your productivity.
What’s a good thing about working at home? You can do it in your pajamas! But studies show that getting dressed actually helps you stay productive.
When you wear pajamas during the daytime, your body associates it with lazy weekend mornings.
Make some coffee or tea, take a shower, eat breakfast, and get dressed in a working outfit.
Plan out your day
I usually forget what I have to do. I know I have a lot to do, but it’s hard to keep track of everything.
Writing out a list of the tasks you need to take care of each day will help keep you focused and reduce your ability to procrastinate.
You can go as far as breaking down your day into hours, and set a task to complete for each hour.
Create a system of prioritization that identifies the tasks that will make the most impact on growing your business. Skip everything that just fills time but doesn’t add any value.
- Find your optimal noise level
When working at home, there are a few things to avoid. The first is a noisy work space. High levels of noise tend to reduce a person’s ability to process information and think creatively, even if it’s background music.
Listening to music helps you relax or get into the “working mood” if you do it before work.
Take a one or two 5-10 minute breaks in every hour or so, and be sure to get up and move around during these short breaks. Take a slightly longer break and go for a walk outside in the middle of the day (or after work). Getting out of your home truly feels like a nice break away from work.
Get a pattern of 50 minutes of work with 10 minutes rest, or do one chunk of tasks on a topic, and take a break before you start to work on the next one. These rest periods help the mind come back refreshed and better prepared to see new angles on challenges.
- Don’t work on the couch.
Another good thing about working from home is that you can get comfortable. But the problem arises when you get too comfortable. What does the couch symbolize? Usually after a hard working day we sit on the couch, relaxing, watching TV, reading.
Instead, make sure you’ve designated a space in your home that will serve as your work area, and use it just for that. This helps create a clear separation from “work” mode and “home” mode.
Put your phone away
Working and concentrating is hard. And it can distract you when you constantly hear the email, text, or Facebook notifications. If you have to keep your phone nearby for work-related communication, turn off sound notifications for apps and enable only for calls.
Your kitchen is close, but it doesn’t mean you can eat anytime, or just grab some fast-food. You don’t even have a lunch break like in a regular office work, so it’s easy to forget about good nutritional habits. When you’re not working, take the time to plan healthy, simple meals and snacks just as you would if you were preparing to eat in the office.
- Keep your workplace clean, and organized
Just like working in an office, you have to have your desk clean and nicely organized. Half-finished sandwich? Opened envelopes from the morning mail? Left over coffee from yesterday? You don’t need these!
Once in a while, clean your computer, mouse, phone, and other devices in your office. They can carry more bacteria than you can imagine.
Find your “tribe”
Hang out with other people who do what you do. Entrepreneur groups, meet-ups, conferences, and workshops are perfect opportunities to meet and brainstorm with like-minded people who can help you grow.
Mix it up
You don’t have to be at home all the time. Some days, go to a Starbucks or other WiFi-enabled place with actual tables, chairs, and people. It removes the distractions you might have at home, like the urge to finally actually clean the bathroom, do laundry, or water the plants.
- Make plans after work
If you work from home, it’s even more valuable to your career—and your mental well-being—to have a real conversation with, and be around, people.
When you work in an office, you leave when the day is over. This allows you to refocus your mind and shift your outlook. Try to make plans after work to separate work-time from relax-time. It’s important to separate yourself from your house every so often in order to avoid the downward cycle towards a lack of productivity.
Give yourself a reason to get out of the house. Go to the gym, or for a walk. Watch a movie in the theater, or go for dinner and drinks with friends.
The key to working productively from home is to create an environment and daily routine that works for your individual needs and preferences. There is no “one-size fits all” solution, but following these best practices can go a long way toward boosting productivity and maintaining a healthy work/life balance when working from home.
What strategies do you use to stay productive and engaged when you work from home? Share with us in the comments!
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