Working from home seems like a blessing. You’re in a comfortable space, you get to eat whenever you want, and your hours are more flexible. The downside of working from home is that it’s easier to get distracted, which means that your productivity levels can be lower.
There are a few, small things that you can do to increase your productivity levels, and make working from home a breeze.
1. Keep Dedicated Working Times
One of the great things about working in an office is that you have hours where you’re supposed to do work. This means that other people who share your space respect your time and work more, and you don’t have to worry about uninvited house guests while working.
When you work from home, your working hours aren’t respected as much, especially if they aren’t always at the same time each day. This means that people will think that your time isn’t worth as much. Family members or roommates will interrupt you while you’re working, people think it’s alright to drop by at any time, etc.
Even you might not respect your time as much as you would if you had an office job.
Keeping dedicated working times is a good way to prevent this, because it allows you to set some times that are just for working. No distracting phone calls from third cousins, no unexpected visitors, this time is your time to just work.
Make sure that people know when your working hours are, that way they know when they’re not allowed to distract you.
2. Have Routines in Place
Routines help to do a lot of things. They lower stress, they help you be more productive, they help with focus and self-discipline. Having a few routines in place will help you get more work done with less stress.
Take a morning routine, for example. Morning routines are great because they help give us time to wake up and enjoy our mornings. Often people who develop morning routines begin to eat healthier, and waking up early helps build self-discipline.
My morning routine also helps me remember what I need to do. I’m no longer forgetting to make my bed or get dressed (hey, it happens when you work from home). And as soon as my morning routine ends, I’m starting my work routine.
When working, I start with writing or editing, since it requires most of my mental energy. Afterwards I work on less intensive tasks. I’m completely used to my routine, so I don’t have to spend much time fussing over what I need to get done. I just do it.
Having a routine can also help strengthen your working hours, and make them more productive.
3. Block Out Social Media and Other Distractions
It is so easy to become distracted by social media notifications, text messages, and other intrusive things. The solution is to block them out.
While you’re working, turn off the Internet connection on your computer, and put your phone on silent or move it to another room. Unless your job is highly dependent on the Internet, don’t turn your connection back on until after you’ve finished working.
If noises distract you, try working in the quietest room of your home, or invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones and listen to some productivity enhancing music.
Sometimes it’s our own thoughts that distract us from working. If that’s the case, keep a notebook and pen beside you when you work, so you can jot down little notes to yourself. Taking small notes won’t break your work-flow much, and will remind you of what you were thinking of later.
4. Take Regular, Short Breaks
Working for a long duration of time without rest will lead to lowered productivity, focus, and quality of work. The solution is to take regular, short breaks.
One woman I know sets a timer for 45 minutes and works entirely for those 45 minutes without distraction. If she needs to research something, or has ideas to work on later, she just writes them down in a notebook and keeps working. After her timer goes off, she takes a 15 minute break to walk around, get some water, or eat a snack.
I don’t have a timer for my work, but every once in awhile (usually every half hour to an hour) I get up and stretch, walk around, pet my cats, and get some water. This little break keeps me loose and hydrated, which helps enhance my focus.
5. Keep a Glass of Water and Healthy Snack Nearby
It’s important to stay fueled throughout your work day, so keep a glass of water and a healthy snack nearby.
Dehydration is a terrible productivity killer, causing fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. It can also lead to a mid afternoon slump.
Bananas are a great snack to have on hand, since they are natural energy boosters, and don’t give the same crash that caffeine does.
6. Dress for Success
Staying in your pajamas all day isn’t going to cut it when working from home. At first it may be tempting, and I know people who’ve formed the habit, but lounge-wear and PJs tell your brain that it’s time relax, not to work.
Being comfortable is nice, but you don’t have to sacrifice productivity in order to stay comfortable.
When I work, I enjoy wearing leggings and a dress or tunic, or a pair of jeans with a blouse or nice shirt. It’s casual and comfortable, but doesn’t make my brain think that the day is going to be a lazy one.
7. Get Some Company
Humans tend to mirror the behavior they see around them, so getting someone else to work around you can help you get more work done.
That being said, having company that just wants to chat or watch TV will lead to you chatting and watching TV, so be selective about who you work with.
8. Keep a To Do List and Schedule
When working from home, it’s imperative that you know when you need to do things and when things are supposed to be finished. If you don’t, you’re just creating unnecessary stress for yourself.
Keep a to do list with all the things that need to be accomplished during the week or month, whichever works best for you. Each evening make a smaller to do list that you can work on the next day.
In your schedule, keep track of deadlines and long-term tasks, to avoid sudden realizations that you have a project due in 2 days.
9. Have a Dedicated Work Space
Having a dedicated work space can really help you stay focused, since your mind is in work mode when in that place.
It’s tempting to work on the couch in the living room, where the couch is comfy and the TV is in sight.
The remote is right there, and having the TV on in the background will simulate the background noises of an office and won’t at all lower your productivity, right?
Trust me, having the TV on, or a YouTube video playing in your browser, or Netflix open on your phone will ruin your productivity levels.
You’ll spend less time working and more time fooling around if you’re in a location where it’s so easy to get distracted. Have a dedicated work space, even if it’s just a desk facing the wall in your bedroom. Just make sure you can’t see your bed from your desk, or you’ll want to sleep, trust me.
10. Clean Up Your Work Space Regularly
Nothing is quite like the distractions of a messy work space.
While social media, TV shows, and text alerts are like people yelling for your attention, a messy work space is a persistent whisper. It’s always there, but not very noticeable. You can sense it, but you can’t put your finger on it.
Cleaning up your work space regularly will help prevent this distracting whisper, and will help lower your stress levels.
I clean up my work space at the beginning and end of my work day, in order to promote productivity.
When you’re working from home, distractions come up all the time. Those were just a few steps that you can take to increase your focus and productivity levels, but it’s possible to go a lot further. Experiment with different possibilities to see what works to improve your work.