Working from home is seen by many as a dream. From being able to pick your own hours to working in your pyjamas, these seem like the ultimate advantages to someone wanting to work from home. The reality however is that having such choice can hinder your productivity if you don’t effectively manage them and bring yourself to create a structured working day. Fortunately if you have found yourself working in bad habits , making a few simple changes to your daily routine can completely change your mind-set and help turn your home office into a healthy and productive working environment.
Get Up and Get Dressed
Whilst an often cited benefit of working from home is that you can work in your pyjamas or just your pants, realistically not getting yourself ready for the day and skipping normal wake up routines makes your mind and body retain the lazy, just woke up feeling which will hurt your productivity, self-esteem and professionalism. Instead get into the habit of getting ready for the day as if you were going to work away from home as this forces yourself into a routine that tells your body that it’s time to get up and get into work mode. It’s becomes a cue that tells you now is the time for work and as such your mind will get into the frame of working making you more productive.
Set Work Hours
Having the ability to set your own working hours is real advantage of working from home, but at the same time the reality is that it becomes so easy to forego a structure and take an ‘I’ll do it when I do it’ approach to work which can lead to wasted time, opportunities and missed deadlines. So instead of taking this approach you need to implement a structure with working hours that importantly are comfortable for you that respect and are tailored around the times when you are most productive. This is very important as if you go ahead and schedule a 9-5 working day when you know you are not at your most productive during that time, you are working against yourself which will ultimately lead to you taking longer to do tasks and producing work that is not your best. So whether you work better at dawn, midday or evening, figure out your most productive working hours and stick to them, making sure to also incorporate breaks and leisure time into your work day too. This will inevitably lead to a healthy, happier and more productive work life balance.
Work in a Productive Space
Working from home means you have the control over where you work. In the garage, living room, sat in bed, on the couch or even at your local coffee shop are all potential workspaces. Whilst they all may sound appealing, the best advice to get productive is to create a regular working space that is arranged and organised in a way that supports your productivity. A space away from distractions such as the TV, that is equipped with comfortable furniture, good lighting and if possible a window seat with a view of the outdoors. Keeping your area organised and de-cluttered also goes a long way to helping your productivity as if you know where everything is then you needn’t spend wasted time trying to find the things you need. Whilst a day working in a coffee shop once in a while can bring a change of scenery and be refreshing, working in the same place every day will help you get more work done as your brain will automatically be ready for work as soon as you sit in your office chair meaning you will spend less time getting into work mode as you would from working in a different setting.
Create To Do Lists
Having a visual list of the tasks you have to do for the day can help boost your productivity greatly. One of the most important reasons for keeping a to-do list is the organization as having your tasks in a list makes everything much more manageable. Seeing a clear outline of your completed and uncompleted tasks rather than having them whizzing around your mind will help you feel organized, stay mentally focused and be able to take each task in turn. As you progress through your to-do list you will also feel a sense of progress and accomplishment that can be missed when rushing from one task to the next. The positivity you will feel from seeing that you are making progress will also help motivate you to keep moving forward rather than feeling overwhelmed.
Take Regular Breaks and Get Out of Your Office
Getting out of your office at regular intervals is important. By leaving your desk for a brief time every 60- 90 minutes or so it gives you a change of scenery that will allow your mind to relax and be refreshed ready for when you return. Even a simple walk to the shops or getting a cup of tea and sitting in the garden is enough to recharge your batteries.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
With a job outside of the house, often during your day you will be involved in lots of movement from the commute, to meetings and general day-to-day activities. Working from home however, you have everything you need within a few paces and especially when working at the computer if you do not actively and regularly take breaks then often the only movement you will do is to only get up when you want a snack from the fridge. If your snacks are unhealthy and you are not exercising, then this often leads to weight gain that has negative effects on your health, self-esteem and sharpness in your thinking. To combat this bad habit, maintaining a level of exercise is important, during your breaks go for a walk, do some stretching or any activity that you enjoy. If you team this with having healthy food in the house like fresh veg, fruit and pre-made healthy lunches with plenty of water you will soon find you have more energy, feel fit and are more productive with your work.
Manage your Distractions
Working from home can easily break the boundaries between work and home life if you allow it to do so. By allowing the everyday home life activities like daily chores, TV and friends and family popping over to carry on as normal when you are supposed to be working then they become big distractions that can severely halt your productivity leading to a rush to get things done, stress and missed deadlines. The answer to this issue is similar to most, planning and scheduling. By implementing work hours and scheduling time you will find that your day becomes more easily manageable. If you allocate set work hours and share them with your friends and family then everyone knows when you are working and when you are not, which reduces any chance for surprise visits.
Give Yourself a Break and Remember to Switch Off From Work
During the especially busy periods many freelancers report feeling a lot of guilt. Guilt on the one hand from not having finished all your work for the day, to neglecting family and friends as all you can think of is work. You thought working from home would bring you, freedom and control but it has instead paved the way for you feeling trapped, pressured and stressed which hinders your productivity and quality of work. What you need to do in this situation is to get organised! Look at your schedule and work load and decide whether you take on too much work or you are just not organised enough with your time. If it is the first scenario then you need to re-evaluate and ask yourself if you have taken on this work because you have to for money or just because you can’t say no. Either answer will need to change something. If you are stressed because you are not organised with your time then you need to make yourself organised by setting work hours, managing your distractions and using the other advice in this article. It is imperative that get organised so you can take some time for yourself in the day to do the things you enjoy, give your mind a rest and simply switch off from work.
Enjoy your flexibility
In the midst of all the suggested scheduling and planning you can easily lose track of the benefits of working from home and the flexibility that it brings you. At the end of the day, provided you are managing your time well and are happy with your routine then you are fully free to work whatever hours you like and enjoy the rest of your day to do as you please. Enjoy that you have a lot more freedom than most and use your time to do the things that make you happy. The biggest help to boost your productivity is to enjoy the work you do, so create a structured work day that is balanced, productive and you are happy with and you will enjoy and be successful at working from home.