I am lucky in that my job affords me the ability to do most of my work from home. I am usually in the office only one day a week at most. Working from home is a benefit most people don’t have and I love it — but it definitely can be a challenge. I currently have a two year old and one child on the way, so it is great to have the extra time a commute would cost me. In over a year of working from home I have first hand experience in some of the things you can do to improve your productivity when working from home.
While you may think it would be awesome to sit on your couch and work all day, you are wrong. For you to be productive you are going to need all of those things you would normally have in the office. This means you need to designate a specific location in your home as “The Office.”
Another problem of not having a designated space is that you will never be away from work. So designate a specific location for work, so when you take a break you can get out of “The Office”
I am horrible at this, but a clean work surface will improve your productivity like you never thought it would. If you have let it slide then add clean off your desk to the list. The best thing to do is clean it off at the end of each day so when you come in (our down the stairs) you aren’t staring down a mess. Start your day organized so you can stay organized.
Your kids are cute but they are not going to help you get your work done. When you are working, even at home, your kids need to be someplace else. Children know you are there and they don’t understand the difference between working and not working. They are still going to want your help to do things around the house so either get the to daycare or have someone watch them.
This is kind of a “Getting Things Done” type tip. Make a list of everything you need to accomplish, write down everything you need to do and the work your way through your list. Whenever something comes up add it to the list, if you can do it immediately do it then, otherwise on the list it goes. Stay focused on completing your list and you will stay on track for the day. I use an old fashioned pen and paper but you could use something like Evernote or Remember the Milk if you want to.
One of the luxuries of being in an office/cube farm is people are always coming by to say hello, talk about their dog, or ask for help. These little interruptions break up your day so you don’t get burnt out on the task at hand. When you are home you usually aren’t going to have those interruptions.
Personally, I frequently go entire days without contacting another human being and those are the worst days. To alleviate this, I like to time myself and allow my self to work from 1.5 to 2 hrs at a time then take a 15 minute break. This allows me to break up the grind as if people were dropping by.
Working at home biggest enemy is all the stuff you own. You are going to be tempted to play with things that are laying around, so get rid of them. Another distraction is your email. Don’t hover over your email all day waiting for something to come in. Periodically check your email but you are under no obligation to read everything right away.
Twitter is great, but it is the devil when it comes to productivity. Axe twitter when you are working, if you want you can hop in there during your 15 minute breaks or lunch time but you aren’t going to get anything done with all this social media hanging around to distract you.
So there you have it, my list of ways to be more productive when you are working from home. This list is not all inclusive but should give you a great head start on improving your at home productivity. Leave a comment and let us know what you do to stay productive when working at home.