Flexible work hours. A couch for your work area. And zero commute time. Working from home certainly has its benefits for the employee. It gives you an individualized work experience and helps you maintain a work-life balance.
But your home or local coffee shop can hold a lot of distractions, and sometimes all of that freedom can make it hard to get your work done. After all, snacks and naps are at your fingertips throughout the day. Lacking the structure of your work environment presents new and unique challenges for those who work at home. Here are tips to fight those challenges and make your at-home work day more productive.
Create Your At-Home Workplace
The first step to working successfully from home is to have a defined space to work. Even if you don’t have a home office, you probably shouldn’t set up shop in front of the TV or in a reclining chair. Find a place in your home where you can focus on your work and treat it like would your office. Doing so will put your mind in work mode instead of home mode.
You should also try to keep your workplace fairly clean and organized. A cluttered desk can be distracting and can make it difficult to find the paperwork that you need. An organized work space will also help you keep your tasks under control and will give you one less thing to do since you won’t need to clean it.
Don’t forget to leave your workplace at the end of the day. When you have a defined area for working, you will be able leave the work where it is and still enjoy your home life. If you have several places for working, you might find it difficult to “get away” from work when you’ve completed the day’s tasks. With a defined work area, though, you won’t feel like you’re at work all the time.
Commit to Set Hours
When your home is your office, you can work whenever you want. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need set hours for working. It just means that you get to set your own hours instead of your boss. If you do not create a work schedule for yourself, you continually push back starting a task and start running out of time to complete tasks by the end of the day. Using an hourly planner will help you block specific hours for working and schedule in break times and family times. Make daily to-do lists so that you know exactly what you need to complete and put all of it in your schedule.
However, scheduling your hours can be a difficult task. If you give yourself all day to complete a task, chances are, you’ll take a longer time to complete it. It may take some time to realize just how long it will take to complete something, but be careful not to “over schedule” time for certain tasks. In fact, if we schedule an hour for a task, we tend to take that entire hour to complete it.
After you schedule your hours, you must commit to them. Eliminate the daily distractions of home (yes, that means turning off your TV and putting away your phone) so you can focus on the task at hand. Let your friends and family know when you will work so that you can have time to yourself. When you set and commit to your hours, you’ll become more efficient, saving time and increasing your productivity.
If you’re working for someone or with other individuals, make sure you stay in constant contact. It can be easy to stick to yourself when you’re working from home, but don’t forget about the other people. Ask questions, keep them up to date, and talk about what is and is not working. The more you communicate, the more you will feel focused on work and ready to be productive.
When you work from home, it can be more challenging to stay productive and efficient. But if you take time to define a work place, set your hours, and communicate with your team, you are well on your way to productivity.