Working from home. For some, these words bring to mind pajamas, fuzzy socks, and uninterrupted hours of productivity from the comfort of one’s bed. But the reality can be dishes, laundry, Netflix, and running errands before getting home and realizing you haven’t accomplished a single work task. As technology continues to advance, more and more companies allow telecommuting. In addition, freelancers make up 35% of the U.S. workforce. But remote working requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline. Check out these productivity tips to make working from home work for you.
Productivity Tips When You Work from Home
Dress for Success
Sure, a perk of working from home is not having to put on real pants. But this is where productivity problems often start. Focus is hard enough to come by, and if you lounge around in your sweats and T-shirts, there is no distinction between work and leisure. Then, one episode of Stranger Things turns into 10, and before you know it, you go back to bed in the same pajamas you wore all day, promising yourself to work more tomorrow.
Let’s try a different scenario. You wake up, shower, and put on nice clothes. You have signaled to your brain that it’s time to get down to business. Your productivity and self-esteem will soar; there is actual science that backs this up. As a bonus — you won’t look in the mirror and panic when your boss or a client asks you to hop on a video conference.
Get a Change of Scenery
Even if you have a dedicated workspace in your home (and you definitely should), the temptations for procrastination are all too real. When the home distractions become hard to ignore, hit up a café, library, or anywhere else with Wifi and a nice environment for working. You might get more done in one hour at a coffee shop than you would in eight hours at home. And if you find that to be the case most days, consider a coworking space membership or renting an office. Coworking is typically more economical, but if you find being around people to be distracting, a solo office might be best for you.
Turn Off Distractions
The average person will spend nearly two hours of their time on social media daily. Remove social media from your bookmarks so you aren’t enticed to click. Still find yourself visiting Facebook or Twitter? Try a program that actually blocks you from visiting distracting websites, such as Freedom. It’s easy to let emails pull you out of a task, and it takes the average person 25 minutes to get back on track after a distraction. Close out of your email or use a pause tool, and then only check your email at certain designated times throughout the day. You will find that most emails can wait.
Designed to help you work with time rather than against it, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management tool created by business consultant Francesco Cirillo when he was a college student looking for ways to get more done in less time. Here’s how it works. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on one task distraction-free during that time. Once your timer goes off, take a three- to five-minute break. Congratulations, you just finished your first Pomodoro! Repeat throughout the day. After four Pomodoros, give yourself a 20- to 30-minute break. This method allows you to focus distraction-free on tasks, and gives you an idea of where your time goes and how long certain projects take. A physical kitchen timer works, or you can set timers on your phone or computer.
Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
Spend 20 minutes in the morning (or whenever you start working) organizing your tasks and setting your intentions for the day. Having a plan of attack makes you more likely to finish assignments, and marking things off a to-do list just makes you feel accomplished.
Set Clear Expectations with Housemates
If your kids, spouse, roommate, etc., will be home while you are working, be sure to set clear expectations on your availability. Just like that coworker who comes to your desk to talk multiple times a day, a partner stopping by to discuss weekend plans can be draining and distracting. And to them, it might look like you are just hanging out at home. Post your work hours outside your office so housemates know when you are busy. If you have an office door, close it when you want to be left alone, and open it if you don’t mind family members popping in to talk.
Don’t get discouraged if you hit an unproductive streak. Remember, even in an office, you are bound to have bad days. Like all things in life, you must practice and find what works for you, whether going to a coworking space, practicing the Pomodoro technique, or locking yourself in a home office. No matter how you plan to work, take short breaks throughout the day to clear your mind and prevent burnouts. Don’t forget to take care of yourself; personal days still matter even though you work from home. And a pajama day every now and then won’t hurt either.
Stephanie Figy is a business + marketing writer at an A/E firm by day, and a freelance writer by night. In her free time she enjoys traveling with her husband, drinking craft beer, and taking care of her cats and rabbits. You can find out more about her at stephaniefigy.com or @SKFigy.
Do you work from home or wish you did? Let us know below or on Facebook and Twitter how working from home works for you!