Working from home sounds like everyone’s dream – no early wake up call, no commute, no need to get fully dressed. I have the privilege of working from home on occasion, and let me tell you, it is a double-edged sword. While waking up later and staying in my pajamas is nice, working from home requires a completely different level of focus than what’s needed in the office. At home, I have Netflix and my puppy to distract me, and less pressure to get things done by the end of the work day, which means I become far less productive than I normally am. I don’t work from home often, but here are a few tricks I’ve picked up that have completely changed the game when I do.
Keep a list
I do this in the office as well, but you’d be surprised at how much a basic to-do list can help with productivity. I have a great planner with an hourly breakdown of the day on one side of the page and a to-do list on the other, with an additional column for notes. I use this thing religiously. Planning out my calls and meetings in the hourly breakdown gives a great foundation for my time throughout the day. After setting up my foundation, I list out all the tasks I need to accomplish by the end of the day in the to do list, usually in order of importance. Sometimes, a to do item will need extra notes, which is where the notes column comes in.
Having everything written down in front of me keeps me from forgetting smaller tasks, and gives me the tools to manage my time throughout the day and get things done.
Set a timer
This is a trick I like to use while cleaning the house. To get things done without losing focus or burning out, I set a timer for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to sit down and get work done. For the duration of that time, I have to sit and focus on one or two tasks on my to do list. Once the timer goes off, I get a mini break, which can be anything from checking Instagram to taking a short walk. I love this tactic because it creates a little challenge to race the clock, keeping me engaged and interested in my work – and if I follow through, I get a reward!
My biggest weakness while working from home is plopping myself on the couch and turning on Netflix. Though this is a great perk of working from home, it is a major distraction for me. I love having the background noise and something to entertain me in place of my coworkers from time to time. The issue is that it tends to catch my attention a little too often throughout the workday. To really accomplish your to do list, I’ve found that having a designated work space at home really helps. For me, this means an actual desk near windows for natural light, but facing away from the TV to avoid distraction. Keeping yourself focused is key to being productive, so do yourself a favor and remove the most distracting things from your work-space at home.
Take a break
Unlike working in an office, you’re more than likely working by yourself without much socialization. For me, this make the work day drag on, which then makes me lose interest in the work I need to get done. When I’m in the office, I get small breaks every now and then to make a trip to the kitchen or have a conversation with a coworker. It wasn’t until I worked from home that I realized how much those mini breaks helped me get through the day. Without those “built-in” breaks, I need to remind myself to get up and move around to give my mind a bit of rest. This is where the timer trick can come in handy, as well!
Those four tips have completely changed my productivity levels when I work from home. If you work from home regularly, test these out and see if you like them! These tricks can even be used for household chores and creative work to be sure you get things done.
What are some tools you use to stay on top of your game?