Working at home seems great to anyone who hasn’t tried it, but it can be a double-edged sword. It’s easy to distracted by things like pets, family, or the TV. Worse, it’s easy to blur the line between home and work space too much, resulting in a home space that’s never free from work or a workspace that’s never free from home. Here are some tips on how to maximize your productivity while working from a home office.
Get up early
Don’t wait until 10 minutes before you have to be online to jump out of bed, no matter how tempting it may be. Studies have shown that people need about two hours of awake time before their mind is fully ready to start their day. People tend to be more productive in an office because the morning commute allows them time to fully wake up. If you work at home, do something like working out or taking the time to eat and enjoy a real breakfast.
Plan your day
When you’re working in an office, chances are you have a schedule of things you need to do, meetings to attend, phone calls to make, and so on. Use the same planning when working at home. If you don’t want to schedule everything out to the very minute, at least create a to-do list, whether on paper or a task tracking application like Asana. Be sure to take your breaks, though; you need the time away from your work for better focus.
Work at a desk, not on the couch
It’s tempting to relax on the sofa or in your most comfortable chair while you’re working at home, but that’s going to give your body a cue that you’re not actually working. Instead, use a space that’s just dedicated to work. Whether that’s an office or a desk in the living room doesn’t matter as much as that your mind thinks “work” when you’re in that space. As a bonus, if you’re an independent contractor, you can write off your work space as a tax deduction.
Learn how to use meeting software
Whether it’s Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting, software that allows you to meet with multiple people in multiple locations is your friend. Learn how to use these tools confidently so that you can make presentations or attend meetings remotely.
Get out of the house
Whether it’s doing errands during the day, going to the gym after work, or going out with friends in the evening, you need to have some kind of human contact. Better yet, try to get in a lunch with your boss or your colleagues at the office so you don’t feel so isolated from your employer. Separating yourself from your home will also give your body and mind a clue that your work day is over.
Finally, look for advice about working at home from people with similar psychological outlooks as yours. This might mean asking yourself some deep questions about how you work, think, and relax. Ultimately, though, it’s worth the effort to do the self-examination required to work successfully from your home.