As many office-goers are now discovering, working from home tends to be less productive. The ever-present procrastination tactics of getting up to grab a snack, cleaning the house, sneaking in a workout, playing with the dog, binging Netflix, and of course, crawling into bed, can be too tempting to ignore. This is all without even factoring in kids running around. If you have no idea how to work productively from home, don’t panic! As an old hand at working from home and as a business coach for women [who I help with these situations on a regular basis] I have a few tricks up my sleeve that will perfect your home/work balance.
How To Work From Home Productively
Create a Designated Workspace
Creating a designated workspace is crucial to setting the scene of your home working life for two reasons. First, it allows you to separate your spaces and subsequently your mindsets. Second, it prevents your ‘home-office’ from encroaching on your family’s space. Designate a specific workstation that isn’t on the couch, or splayed out on the dining room table. This could be anything from a spare bedroom to a corner of a room.
By creating a workspace you will be setting up a concentration zone, allowing you to disassociate from home life and enter work mode. It also announces to your family when you are working, which will hopefully signal to them that you don’t want to be disturbed.
Dress for Success
I love being in my PJs as much as anyone, but the reality is I’m less productive than when I dress in normal clothes and make an effort. There is a direct correlation with dressing for the job at hand and productivity. When you are in your comfy sleepwear, you are sending the message to your mind and body that it’s time to wind down and relax. Getting up in the morning, having a shower, and putting on presentable clothing helps you get into a working mindset.
Have a Plan
If you want to know how to work from home productively, it’s imperative to have a plan of what you want to achieve in your day. Your plan should not only help you reach your short term business goals but your long term business goals as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Asana person or a pen and paper planner, map out exactly what you are going to get done and stick to it. Having your plan laid out in front of you lets you move seamlessly from task to task, minimising the risk of becoming distracted or overwhelmed.
Remember that it is okay to take breaks. In fact, taking regular breaks will likely increase your productivity when working at home. Many remote workers use the Pomodoro Technique to break up their day. The technique is simple. You spend 25 minutes working, then 5 minutes doing whatever you want. Every 2 hours, take a longer break. This frequent break schedule allows you to decompress and reset your brain for another productive stretch of work.
This one may be easier said than done, but the more distractions you can eliminate throughout your workday the more productive you will be. While you may not be able to do anything about the construction next door or your kids wanting a snack, you can invest in noise-cancelling headphones and prepare snacks ahead of time to negate those distractions.
One of the biggest distractions we all have is one we can do something about – our phones. Whether you need to turn your phone on silent, switch it off, lock it in another room, or have a family member hide it somewhere in the house, eliminating your phone will wipe out a massive chunk of distractions.
Work When You’re Most Productive
Many of you reading this might not be able to set regular work hours because you’re juggling parenthood and other obligations. My advice to you is to work when you’re most productive. There is no rule book that says you have to work from 9 to 5, so find a schedule that works for you. This could be early in the morning before the kids wake up or after the kids go to bed.
Take advantage of your flexible work hours to discover which times of the day you have the most focused energy, and when you have a dip in productivity. You might be surprised by the patterns you notice. Capitalise on your productive stints and save less strenuous tasks for times when your concentration is usually lacking.
I know I know, for most of us the thought of picking up the phone sounds archaic in our modern age of emails and instant messages. When working from home, however, you can easily spend an entire day without speaking to anyone, and this can make you feel extremely isolated and out of touch with reality.
The next time you have a work question or problem, pick up the phone and call a colleague rather than sending an email. By staying connected you’ll get fresh ideas and feel motivated. This will help you to keep on track while at the same time staying productive and maintaining your mental health.
Avoid Cabin Fever
You’ll be surprised at how much you start to miss your early morning commute when you’re working from home every day. To combat cabin fever, the best thing to do is venture outside. This could mean going for a walk or just hanging out in your backyard. If you exercise regularly, move your workouts outside. Why not take up gardening? Spending time in nature has been proven to lower stress, so any time you can spend outdoors will have a huge benefit.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can also leave your home virtually. Connecting with your friends and family through calls and Facetime will allow you and them to feel more connected to each other and the outside world.
Prepare Your Meals/Snacks the Night Before
Believe it or not, cooking and snacking is a massive distraction and procrastination tactic. I challenge you to count the number of times you get up to check the fridge or pantry for snacks in one day of working from home. All this snacking and preparing lush meals for your workday eats up precious work time.
Prepare your meals and snacks the night before just as you would if you were traveling to work. That way you can spend a short lunch break actually eating lunch and not leisurely whipping up a three-course meal.
Bonus Tip – Additional Self-Care
Self-care is important at all times, so I want to remind you about the importance of taking time for yourself in order to maintain your mental and physical health. Working from home can be stressful, and we often set unrealistic expectations on ourselves that result in unhelpful pressure.
Remind yourself that you are doing a good job and treat yourself to something that is just for you each day. Be it a yoga session, a walk, or a nice long bath, taking care of yourself will decrease stress, make you more productive, and keep you mentally and physically healthy.
By following these tips on how to work from home productively you will be surprised at how much you can get done unsupervised. It’s important to note that, while we all want to be as productive as possible, it’s completely normal for your productivity to dip when you’re going through a massive lifestyle change. Be patient with yourself. Working from home is a skill, and all skills take time to master.
Connecting with people you can relate to is so important when working from home. If you’re a small business owner and you want to connect with other business owners, check out my Facebook group, the Australian Business Collaborative. For more useful information, read my Blog or listen to my podcast The Business and Life Conversations Podcast.
Where to from here
If you’re struggling with working from home, or feel stuck in your business and lack the clarity and strategy you need to move your business forward – I’d love to hop on a 30-minute discovery call to explore your goals, struggles and how I might be able to help move your business forward. Book in for your free 30 minute discovery call here.
Have a fab day and hope this helped you to start thinking about how you can be a bit more productive when working from home.