10 Tips to Increase Your Productivity When Working from Home
The 2014 National Study of Employers report found that 67% of employees now have some flexibility to work at least a portion of their regular work hours from home. Whether you telecommute or are an entrepreneur with a home-based office, working from home can be both a source of joy and a major headache. “Yay! I can work in my sweatpants!” can quickly change to, “I don’t feel inspired to work today.” Try these ten tips to keep working from home feeling more like a productive blessing than painful drudgery.
Wake up, shower and dress just as you would if you were going into the office. If heels make you feel powerful, wear them. Style your hair or put on makeup as if you are getting ready to go meet a client. Your attire signals to those around you that you are working, even if you are sitting on the couch with your laptop checking your emails. This is especially important if your housemates tend to think you are available to chat or to do chores during your workday. Getting dressed and ready to work helps you as well by eliminating temptation; you won’t be as inclined to go out and weed the garden or sit by the pool in your wool slacks.
If clothing doesn’t affect your ability to work, consider dressing up for work only on days when you will be taking an important call or you have a meeting or networking event out of the office. Dressing for the office on those occasions can change your frame of mind from frumpy to fabulous.
Walk to Your Office
Walk into your office at a set time each day to begin work. You should have a separate office space within your home that is not used for anything expect your business. If you can, manage an office space with a door so that you can shut out the cacophony of the family or roommates.
Love Your Work Space
You probably spent years working in an office space that came with standard issue desks and chairs handed down from previous employers. Your home office is an opportunity to make your office a place you love to go to work.
Although your business might be on a tight budget in the beginning and repurposed furnishings from elsewhere in your house seem like a good option, consider the impact new office furnishing could have. A great chair to replace the one that makes your leg numb or causes you back pain will probably entice you to work for longer periods. A new ceiling fan to cool your work space and some soft lighting or new curtains to filter the sunlight will make your office space cozier. Don’t forget the personal touches such as a soft rug to dress up your space or a comfortable reading chair and lamp for when you pore over documents.
Establish Office Hours
One of the primary difficulties for any home-based business is the overlap between home and office. It can be just as tempting to work too much and not spend time relaxing, as it is to to let household chores distract you. Create a set schedule of office hours when you will be working. Post the hours on your door to remind you, and your housemates, when you will be unavailable for idle chatter or errands.
Work When You Work
Scheduling a dentist appointment for yourself or your child during your workday might seem inoccuous enough. However, if you add up the time each month that you do “just this one thing” during your regular business hours, you might be surprised how much time you spend on non-work items. Schedule your non-emergency appointments before or after your work hours, just as you would if you worked at any other company.
Nothing kills a teleconference faster than a screaming toddler or a barking dog. Invest in a good, noise-cancelling earpiece or headset, preferably with the ‘mute’ feature. You want your clients and colleagues to have the perception of a booming business, not a booming party next door.
Working from home can be a blessing, especially if you have young children. You are there in case they need you, but if you intend to get any work tasks accomplished, you cannot watch your little munchkins all day. Hire a nanny or take your children to daycare for at least part of the day so you can have some uninterrupted work hours.
Childcare is not the only reason to hire help. If you will use your home office for meeting clients, you might want to employ a cleaning service or landscaper to improve the looks of your office.
Don’t Become Invisible
Out of sight, out of mind applies when working from home. If you telecommute, you don’t want to be forgotten or overlooked for promotions, because you don’t work in the office. Make the effort to be in the office for meetings and for face time with your boss. By virtue of not being in the office, you will have to work a little harder to build personal relationships with your coworkers. Go to lunch with your boss or your coworkers occasionally to catch up on what is happening in the office, and to make sure you remain part of the team. Be available when your boss, coworkers or clients need you, and let them know if you won’t be in the office or cannot be reached for a while.
Track Your Accomplishments
The best part about working from home can be that no one is there looking over your shoulder to make sure you are working and staying on task; it can also be the worst part of working from home. You will need to track your own tasks and tick-mark your accomplishments to hold yourself accountable. An easy-to-use calendar, like those available in Outlook or Google calendars, allow you to schedule appointments and tasks create reminders and track status.
Change of Venue
Some days, staying focused while working from home becomes overwhelming. If the temptation to fold socks or wash dishes has a hold on you, change your venue. Go to the local coffee shop for a few hours to work. The change of scenery will change your mindset and remove the home office temptations. It is a good idea to get out of the office at least once a day just to keep from feeling as if the walls are closing in on you.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to perform your job responsibilities from your home office, enjoy the freedom. Raising your awareness of some of the potential pitfalls and compensating for or avoiding them altogether, you might earn “Employee of the Month” status without having to get out of your pajamas.16