11 ways to stay productive while working from home
“You work from home? Ah, that must be nice!”
Anyone who works from home, whether as a self-employed entrepreneur or part-time telecommuter, is probably used to getting this response from friends, family, and even total strangers. You know they are probably picturing you lounging around in your pajamas all day, balancing a laptop on one knee and a bowl of cold cereal on the other.
While the temptation to allow a lax work environment is always there, an experienced telecommuter knows that setting healthy boundaries and practices in place not only keeps you productive in your daily tasks but happy and thriving in everything you do!
1. Don’t just roll out of bed
Shower. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Do all the things you normally would if you were commuting to work. Create an energizing morning routine that is unrelated to work to help you get in the right frame of mind. This may involve light reading, journaling, a workout or some stretching… Give yourself plenty of time!
2. Separate your workspace
If at all possible, keep your desk and work area separate from the rest of your house. This will not only improve your focus while you work but will maximize your rest and relaxation whenever you leave your workspace at the end of the day.
3. Create a mood
Sometimes the biggest hindrances to our productivity are small things we thought had no influence on us at all: a messy desk, distracting background noise, a weird smell from the garbage… One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that you have more control over your environment. Do you work better with silence or a little white noise like a fan? Could your office space use a few potted plants or inspirational pictures on the wall? Would diffusing some calming oils help your focus? Find out what environmental factors contribute to your best workday and set yourself up for success!
4. Make sure you have a proper desk setup
An office environment may have standards in place for ensuring their employees are using desks, chairs, and devices that promote healthy posture and body positioning. If you plan to work from home long-term, you may need to research and figure this out for yourself. Your mouse, keyboard, screens, and headset also play a role in maintaining a healthy posture.
5. Set clear working hours
Set clear boundaries when it comes to your working hours. If your family is not used to you working from home, this may take some patience and getting used to. Keep your office door shut and let them know when you will be available next. If you have small kids at home a “traffic light system”, is a fun way to help them understand when you’re available. Get circles of green, yellow and red construction paper. A green circle on the door means “ok to come in.” A yellow circle means “come in quietly.” And a red circle means “do not come in right.” Obviously, if you are using red or heading into a meeting, make sure to communicate this to your babysitter, spouse, etc. to make sure the kids are staying with them.
6. Take a break
When working from home it can be easy to keep plugging away at your computer, hour after hour, without realizing what time it is. This is terrible for your eyesight, posture and mental health. Experts say you should look away from your screen at least every 20 minutes, and spend 5 minutes of every hour standing and moving. If you can use your lunch break to take a brisk walk or do some moderate exercises this can provide you with a huge energy boost to get through the second half of your day.
7. Plan meals ahead of time
It’s better to use your break time for intentional relaxation or enjoying your meal rather than cooking and doing dishes. Make your meals and portion your snacks at the beginning of the day so they are all ready to go when you need one.
8. Stay connected
Stay connected to clients and coworkers every single day. Use multiple channels such as Skype, Google Hangouts and online meeting software such as GoToMeeting, Zoom or Webex. As a bonus, video conferencing gives you additional motivation to get out of your pajamas in the morning. Or at least halfway. Nice sweater + cozy sweatpants?
9. Invest in yourself
Workers in a traditional office setting have the benefit of learning from colleagues, group projects, and mandatory training. If you’re not intentional about improving your skills and knowledge while working from home, no one is going to make you. Set some feasible goals to read more, listen to a weekly podcast, or attend a conference for entrepreneurs.
10. Improve your technology skills
Home-based business owners have many hats to wear – including being their own tech support! Don’t wait until something goes wrong to improve your tech skills. Spend time reading “how to’s” online, take classes, and always be sure to watch and ask questions if you do get help!
11. Plan fun after work
It can be hard to transition from work to relaxation when working from a home office. Plan something specific and creative to do after work so you don’t go stir-crazy! Go on a long walk or treat yourself to an at-home spa night. Plan a family movie or board game night… don’t forget the popcorn!
By implementing some structure and boundaries you can turn your work-from-home experience into a positive and productive one!