Working from home can be glorious, and it can be insanity-inducing. Harnessing your productivity in such close proximity to your bed, your Netflix, or your pet/roommate/significant other can be a real challenge. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the world of the home office.
1. Get Dressed
Yes, this seems like a no-brainer, but when you work from home, it can be tempting to roll out of bed directly to your computer and work in your jammies for several hours. If you create a routine where you wake up, get dressed, and even force yourself out of the house to grab a coffee or tea before the workday begins, you’ll instantly feel more productive and less Grey Gardens.
2. Set up a workspace and stock it well
The division between work and life is challenging enough without actually bringing your work into your home. As much as possible, cultivate a neat space that you will instantly associate with work, not home. Even if it’s just a desk in a corner, keep it free of distractions and equipped with only work-necessities. You will also need to do a back-to-school-esque shop to ensure you have all the tools you need to get the job done. A well-supplied office will minimize last minute panicked trips to the far-flung stationery store. As well, figure out where the nearest Fed-Ex, post office and Kinko’s are, so you know in advance how long generating copies or couriering a package will take.
3. Set boundaries and goals
One of the dangers of working from home is overworking—if you remember a forgotten email late at night, your office is right there to send it. If a deadline looms, there’s no security guard kicking you out. Be clear with yourself about when your workday starts and ends, and stick to it. Make a point of not responding to business emails after certain hours if you can avoid it, and try to spend some time away from your laptop to get some space.
This also works in the opposite way: for some, working from home kills productivity. Setting clear goals, and a timeframe to achieve those goals in, can be the key to keeping yourself on task. Draw out a little rudimentary schedule in the morning to keep yourself focused.
4. Move Around and Switch it up
If you can, vary your workspace occasionally. This could mean working in a different part of the house, or meeting other freelancing friends for coffee. If you have the space, why not rotate a shared workspace with some other friends who also work from home? Changing locations can be a great boost to your brain if you’re in a productivity slump, and the ability to up stakes to a new environment is one of the best benefits of a home office.
5. Take advantage of the benefits
Speaking of those benefits, working from home gives you a great amount of freedom, and you have to indulge that. Structure into your day time to pick up some fresh veggies and make a delicious and affordable lunch, or work in a meditative fifteen-minute stroll blasting your favourite music. If your timeline allows, hit the gym during the off hours and work a bit later, do the same with errands, or carve out 20 minutes to prep food for dinner to give your brain a break. A home office doesn’t have the usual distractions that a corporate setting does, so you need to manufacture moments where your brain can recharge. As well, little victories like no line up at the Express Checkout make you feel like a working-from-home winner.
6. Be self-aware
One of the most difficult challenges of working from home is self-monitoring. You need to be aware of your own distractions, your most productive periods, and what you need to create a workable space. Once you’ve figured out these needs, you can make decisions to tailor your workspace to maximum productivity, which brings us to…
7. Craft your most productive work day
The greatest advantage of working from home is freedom. Know when you work best, and how. Figure it out by monitoring your productivity for a couple of days: Are you completing tasks with more ease in the morning or afternoon? Do you like to work through lunch and take a long break in the afternoon, or do you need to take small breaks during the day to stay on task? Once you’ve figured these things out, write down a schedule that maximizes your potential.
What inspires you to be creative and productive? Music? Talk radio? Radio silence? Figure out what you need and plan accordingly: an rdio subscription, picking some great podcasts, or investing in noise-cancelling headphones or a white-noise machine.
~ Haley Cullingham