I’ve worked remotely on-again, off-again for around 5 years now. I was taken with the idea of having the freedom to work whenever [and wherever] I want. I could be my own boss. I could work in my PJ’s, stretched on the couch. Or work from a nice café. Have more free time and enjoy my hobbies. While ditching the fixed working hours and commute did help at first, I was faced with a challenge – how to stay productive and focused while working from home? And more importantly, how to deal with my worst enemy – me.
How Much Can You Get Done in a Day
Working efficiently from home has its challenges. I had no one to give me advice or teach me about productively working at home. It took me some time to learn what works best and which habits I need to ditch. So, if you are facing similar problems that I did, read my top 10 working from home tips and tricks.
#1 Decide Where You’ll Work
The first thing you need to figure out is where you’ll work from. Working on the couch, with the TV on is a big fat NO. Divided attention means you are completely distracted. Instead, choose a special place in your home where you can set up a dedicated workstation. Or if you have a spare room, convert it into a home office. Whatever you do, ensure your designated space is comfortable and enjoyable. And quiet if needed.
#2 Dress Up
Working from home doesn’t mean it’s ok to slouch in your PJ’s all day, every day. The goal is to make yourself feel like you’re working. So, get up and get dressed! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A pair of comfortable pants (or jeans) and a t-shirt are enough. You just need to create a sense of responsibility so you can work from home effectively.
#3 Set Regular Working Hours
You don’t have to follow a 9-5 routine if you are not a morning person. I know that I am not. Instead, discover your peak productivity periods and set regular working hours accordingly. Unless you are working remotely and are required to work during regular office hours, when you work is entirely up to you. But don’t cheat on yourself and make sure to stick to your work time!
#4 Structure Your Day
Staying productive at home requires staying on schedule and avoid being overworked. Try to organize your tasks and assignments. Find a balance between working at optimal speed and capacity, while allowing yourself some breathing room. You can use calendars, daily to-do lists or even a task management system, like Kanban. Tools will help you organize and prioritize your tasks. Also, don’t forget to take lunch breaks away from your desk and clear your head.
#5 Make the Most out of Tech, But Beware of Tech Distractions
Technology can be very helpful, or very distracting. While productivity tools like Kanban Zone, communication, and file-sharing software are extremely useful to work from home effectively, other tech and gadgets can be harmful. And also extremely distracting, addictive and time-consuming. Scrolling through social media feeds will keep you from working from home effectively.
#6 Separate Personal and Work Time
Setting regular work hours and respecting them should also help you compartmentalize your personal and work activities. That way you can be more productive while you’re at work, and don’t feel stressed when you aren’t working. Just don’t forget to communicate your work/personal time with friends, family, and of course, colleagues.
#7 Schedule Personal Errands During your Break
It’s normal to have personal errands that you’d have to run during working hours. But try to schedule them just as you would if you worked in an office – outside of scheduled work hours. Try to get your appointments during your ‘lunch break’ or before or after work. That way you won’t have additional interruptions.
#8 Maintain a Healthy Diet
When you work from your home it can be tempting to take time and prepare a nice and healthy breakfast and lunch. But you need to stay disciplined and stay away from the kitchen. Instead, try meal prepping the night before or first thing in the morning. It will save you time and help you stay on schedule.
#9 Take Sick Days
Even when you are working from home, you are still a person that can get sick. If you work remotely ask if you have sick days as a benefit. And don’t be afraid to use them when necessary. But if you are a freelancer without sick-days, don’t fall in the time-is-money trap. Taking time off to feel better or just recharge your batteries can only help you be more productive in the long run.
#10 Enjoy Flexibility and Disruptions
Staying focused and being productive should be your priority. That’s why you need to learn to make the most of your flexibility and enjoy your ability to take a break with a bike ride or walk. Or even take the whole day off. Taking time to unwind and get your creative juices flowing whenever you feel necessary is one of the best advantages you get when working from home.
Find What Works for You
There are many things you need to figure out. Like, equipment, trainings, work advancements… But the key thing when it comes to working from home effectively is discovering what works best for you. And finding balance between work and personal time.
P.S. Working from home effectively doesn’t mean you must stay at home. You are not a plant, you can move. If feel like you need a change of scenery you can always pack your laptop and go to a nearby café, a library, public lounge, or any place that has Wi-Fi. Now get into work mode and crush those tasks!