Either if you are a freelance or run your own online store, working from home is a really really good asset in our professional career. Many people dream with working-hours in pajamas, in bed and at any time they want. But, as good as it sounds, working from home may become a double-edged blade. Those pajamas and “free schedule” may affect your productivity without you even notice.
I’ve been working from home for the past two years, and I’ve learned two or three things about being productive when tasks organization depends 100% on me. And trust me when I say that keep things under control is a real challenge.
So, I want to tell you some tips that may help you to achieve more and better results in less time when you are working from home.
setting Goals is the key
Working on sunday? When I’m working from home? You must be kiddin’. But what if I tell you that you can work only 20-30 minutes of your sacred sunday, to set the goals and tasks for the week. This way, you will always know what is it on your schedule and will save a lot of time. This tip can be complemented with daily goals, the same way you plan your week, use the last 15-20 minutes of your day to review your work, update your week schedule and prepare your stuff for the next day.
You can use whatever tools you feel comfortable with. There a lot of apps to do this, from Google Calendar to Trello. You can use a simple paper agenda as well if you like to write down things in the old way.
identify your most productive hours AND TAKE ADVANTAGE
We all have more productive hours than others, depending of our habits and schedule. From some of you the most productive hours might be the first in the morning, for some others the productive hours come with the night. Identify and use these hours to do your more unpleasant or difficult tasks. By doing so, you can complete this tasks in a faster and easier way. Be sure to schedule this tasks on those hours in your weekly plan.
WORKSPACE: separate home from office
One of the risks of working from home, is, well, that. You’re in your home. Your sanctuary and usually you don’t see it as a workplace. To help you on that “chip switch”, the best option is to set up a workspace in your house (a room, a desktop in a specific location…) and keep it as clean and organized as possible.
And, with “clean and organized” I don’t mean to just keep it dust-free, but to keep that area completely free of distractions (don’t place the Playstation, or the TV in that area) and don’t let your son to play in that room.
The same applies to your desktop. The cleaner it is, the better. Remember, you’re in your home, and temptation is everywhere.
And, consider other factors that improve or affect your productivity as well, things like the illumination, the temperature, a comfortable chair, etc.
schedule BREAKS AND DISTRACTIONS
Yes, you need to be distraction free while you’re working on a specific task, but it’s impossible to stay 8 hours straight without taking a break. So, in order to avoid distractions and procrastination that affect your productivity, schedule some break times, a 5 to 10 minutes per working-hour might help you to stay focused.
Have you ever heard of the Pomodo technique? It might help you a lot.
say no to multitasking
It might seem easy and productive to do two or three little tasks at a time, but believe me, it is not productive at all. Part of being organized, is to being able to focus on one single task at a time. One thing only. Ending one task before starting the next one will improve the quality and speed of your work.
If you are working in two or more projects, make sure you organize them as “work batches”, and keep the tasks small. The smaller the work batch, the better and faster the goals are.
don’t check your inbox every 5 minutes
E-mail is part of every office job, but it is one of the biggest distractions. Checking your inbox every 5 minutes or every time a new message has arrived, will get you caught in a huge waste of time.
Instead, you need to set a two or three times a day to check your email, during those times, and treat those times as another working batch. You’ll be able to read the most important messages, respond to them and then get back to another task. Believe me, it’s faster to read and answer 2 or 3 messages during 10 minutes, than read and answer those same messages as they arrive, not only because they interrupt you to think on the message, but once you send the response, you need to get back your mind to whatever you were doing.
learn to unplug the cable
The most difficult thing about working from home, is to disconnect. Draw the line between work and personal stuff. You’re in your home, and it doesn’t matter if you take one more hour to send e-mails.
It is important that you learn to unplug the cable, to change the environment and your mind once your working day is over. Take the breaks, take your meals, take at least one day off per week, take vacations. One of the benefits of working from home, is being able to plan your vacations easier. It’s good that you focus and give the best of you while you’re working, but once the day is over, be yourself, be in your home.