How to Keep your Productivity High when Working from Home

While many people thrive when working from home, others struggle with distractions and feelings of isolation. If you’re making the transition to working at home, follow these tips to make sure you maintain your productivity, and your sanity.

working from home

Working from home gives your great flexibility and freedom. It has a number of environmental benefits, and can help you to fit important factors such as your family around your job. But while lie ins, your own clothes and the chance to save money are all great perks, it is important to remember that your job role stays the same, and still needs to be treated professionally. While some people thrive in the relaxed environment of their own home, others may struggle to stay on task and work without distraction, and some may even suffer in a more isolated and unsociable environment. If you’re making the transition to working at home, follow these tips to make sure you maintain your productivity and sanity.

 Define your work space

 Determining a room to use as your home office is important when defining the boundaries between home and work life. This is important, both in keeping you focussed while you work, and helping you to fully relax when you finish work and go back into home life. If your home already has an office or study, use that. If not, set up a desk in a spare bedroom or another unused part of the house. As a last resort, use the kitchen or dining room table. Ideally, you’ll need somewhere you can be undisturbed and have space for all the equipment you’ll need to do your job. In the evening, you should be able to close the door on that room and not have to worry about what’s inside until the following morning.

 Stay away from potential distractions

 It only takes the smallest distraction for your productivity to grind to a halt when working at home. Whatever your usual distraction, keep it away from your work space. This could include the television, games consoles, the fridge or the kids. If you need internet access for your work, staying distraction-free can be more difficult. A little more self-discipline may be needed to stay off Facebook, or other unnecessary websites, without the knowledge that you have bosses or co-workers looking over your shoulder in an office environment.

 If you’re struggling to avoid online distractions:

  • Begin by pinpointing the sites you are most often distracted by. These can include social networks, forums, news sites, instant messengers and online games

  • Disable the notifications which draw you to these sites, such as new email pop ups or alert sounds

  • Keep your work goals specific. Quantify what you want to accomplish, this makes it easier to be sure when they’re complete. Once they are, you can even reward yourself with a few minutes of your favourite online game or checking Facebook

  • If you’re struggling to discipline yourself online, you may need to go cold turkey. There are a number of web browser ad-ons which can help block distracting sites or limit the time you spend on them. Try StayFocusd for Google Chrome or Leechblock for Firefox.

Maintain a routine

Sticking to a routine may sound like sapping some of the enjoyment from working at home, but it really is the best way to maintain productivity and avoid slipping into bad habits. How strict you are with your routine may depend on how easily you stray from the task in hand, but it’s always wise to stick to these basics:

  • Get up at the same time each morning and have a good breakfast. You can allow for a lie in because there’s no commute, but don’t let an extra hour’s sleep take priority over other steps in your morning routine

  • Wear work clothes. They don’t have to be as smart as normal office wear, but getting out of your pyjamas and into something a little more professional can help you to get your mind into work mode, which can help you maintain focus throughout the day.

  • Keep your lunch break around the same time each day. This can help you to stay on task and schedule your time more efficiently. To stop your lunch break from disrupting your flow too much, it can help to make your lunch in the morning before you start work and bring it to your office with you, like a packed lunch

  • No matter how tempting it might be to work from your sofa, or even worse, you bed, don’t. Working at a desk helps you to maintain focus better and keep your home and work life separate. It also helps you to maintain a better posture, while working slouched on a sofa can cause back and neck pain in the long run.

Beating cabin fever and isolation

For some, working at home is a dream come true, but others may end up feeling isolated or even claustrophobic living and working in the same place, especially when working from home out of necessity. To stop these feelings from getting the better of you:

  • Take regular breaks throughout the day. While stopping for too long may disrupt your flow or distract you from your work, a quick break to get a glass of water or a cup of tea gives you a chance to stretch your legs, keep your fluid levels up and give your eyes a break from your computer screen

  • If you’re starting to feel the pressure of all this time spent indoors- take breaks outside to get yourself some sunlight and fresh air. You may be surprised at how much you actually miss your morning commute- if so, try taking a quick walk around the block before you start working to get your blood flowing and your mind prepared for a day of work

  • You probably don’t realise until you start working at home, but work is one of the key places where people socialise each week, which is why working in solitude can be difficult for some. If you have family or house mates at home during the day, take the chance to chat to them over breakfast or lunch. If not, make an extra effort to see friends outside of work hours to break up long periods spent on your own.

Image sourced: Adam Harvey

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