Working from home is a dream for many, but staying focused and motivated is a challenge - here are some tricks.
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Working from home can seem like a brilliant idea, but when it comes down to it, it can be hard to remain productive.
The difficulty is that there is often no clear divide between work and home life. There are many distractions and constant reminders of things that need to be done around the house. People may also find it hard to comprehend that although you are “just” at home, you are also working, in the same way as you would if you were in an office.
In Hal Elrod’s book, “The Miracle Morning”, he advocates getting up early, to get work done before the world wakes up. Give it a try yourself and see how productive you can be when there are no emails, phone calls, or knocks at the door.
2. Have a dedicated workspace
Working from home can often mean working on a laptop at the kitchen table. Even if you don’t have a spare room, try to at least carve out a little space that’s just for work. A corner desk in the dining room or bedroom can work well. You’ll spend a lot of time here so make sure it’s a comfortable and inspiring space. Treat yourself to an ergonomic chair, stay organised with some simple boxes and make sure the area is well lit.
3. Set clear working hours
Working from home can often mean no set hours. Whilst this can offer flexibility, it can also mean you work long into the night, sometimes without even realising it. Set a time when you finish work and aim to stop what you’re doing in good time. This will also help those around you know when you’re not to be disturbed.
4. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique advocates using a timer to break work into short intervals. During the time, focus only on the task at hand and nothing else. Tasks should be spaced out with breaks, which is when you can check emails and take calls. Having a timer ticking is a great way to keep you focused, so you get more done.
5. Get out of the house
Staring at the same four walls all day, every day can eventually become quite draining. Stay motivated and productive by working from somewhere else every now and again. A local cafe or shared office space can be perfect. Plus, the ticking clock of your laptop battery can help you to work harder and really focus on the task at hand.
6. Make time to socialise
This tip might seem counterproductive, but when working from home it can be easy to spend days at a time without really seeing or talking to anyone else. This can leave the brain feeling stale. Find time to meet other people, such as by popping out for a coffee with a friend, or attending a networking event for an hour. You’ll return to work with a new focus.
7. Make friends and family aware
Friends and family can be the worst distractions when working from home. Many see that we are home all day and think that means we’re available for visits, lunch dates or long phone calls. Talk to everyone affected and explain that you are working from home, with the emphasis on “working.” Explain that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Offer to call or meet up outside of working hours instead.
8. Make to-do lists
Use an app like Todoist to keep track of what needs to be done. Having a list can really help you to stay productive, and Todoist has the added benefit of being able to schedule recurring weekly or monthly tasks.
9. Act as if you’re going to the office
If you were in the office, you wouldn’t be able to do that load of laundry, answer that phone call or just pop to the shops. Treat your work as if it were a job in an office, and don’t allow yourself to slack off. Set your alarm instead of laying in. Dress in office wear as this signifies to your brain that it’s work time, not play time. You could even make a packed lunch, so you don’t get distracted at lunch time in the kitchen.
Working from home can easily become unproductive, with endless distractions and excuses to turn your back on work. With these 9 tips, you can get yourself on the road to productive working and make your work much more manageable.
Do you work from home? We’d love to know your tips for staying productive. Tweet us @Minutehack.