Working from home can be great.
Since you’re not having to punch the clock, you’re free to set your own schedule and work at the times that you work best. Unfortunately, working from home can also be awful since you’re surrounded by all of your favorite distractions. If you’re not careful, your productivity can take a hit and you’ll find yourself wondering how you can turn things around.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Here are just a few of the ways that you can keep yourself on-task and productive in your home office. You may even become more productive than you ever were working outside of the home:
Set a Schedule
Ok, so this seems to go against one of the biggest advantages of working from a home office.
If you have too much freedom, though, it’s easy to justify procrastination and putting your work off until later. Every day, write down the times that you intend to actively be at work as well as when you plan to take breaks or do other activities. You don’t have to keep a 9-to-5, but you should try to stick to the schedule you’ve plotted out.
Start with the Busywork
Emails, phone calls, bills… there are a lot of little things that you have to do during the workday that can really slow down your productivity.
Some productivity experts will advise you to get these items out of the way first thing. Spend time reading and responding to emails, making any calls you need to make and doing whatever else might slow you down later. Getting these items out of the way first thing can make a huge difference in your overall productivity moving forward.
Clear the Clutter
The last thing that you need in your home office is a bunch of stuff that can distract you from your work.
Take the time to clean up your office area, removing both trash and distractions that might keep you from focusing on your work. Sadly, this won’t be a one-time task; set aside time every week or two to check for clutter, since some distractions make a habit of migrating into your office space.
Even though you need to set a schedule for yourself, you’re going to need to take breaks if you want to stay on task.
Most of your breaks should be short, usually between five and 15 minutes long. At least one break should be longer, giving you a chance to grab a bite to eat or take care of a few other things you need to do. Make sure that you actually get out of your office area for these breaks, too… if you want to clear your mind, you need to physically get away from what your mind’s been focused on.
It may seem weird, but exercise can actually help you stay focused in your home office.
Since you aren’t going to do as much walking as you would if you were heading to an out-of-the-home job and walking around the office there, a little bit of exercise will make sure that you don’t get sedentary. Not only that, but exercise can help keep you from getting tired and keep your mind more focused. A little bit of exercise on at least one of your breaks can be a great pick-me-up in the middle of your work time.
If you’re having problems staying focused, designate a single task you want to complete and set a timer for yourself.
This will add just a little bit of deadline pressure, getting the adrenaline going and giving you a little burst of energy as well as some added focus. Try to keep the timer under 20 minutes, as longer periods will give you more time to lose your focus and wind up distracted.
One thing that many people working in home offices forget is that you’re supposed to stop working once you clock out.
Just because your office is right there doesn’t mean you’re obligated to continue working whenever you have some down time. Once you’ve completed your day’s work, mentally clock out and enjoy some down time at the end of your day.