I’ve been working from home for a number of years now and you’d think it would get easier. Well, it doesn’t. In fact, it can get more difficult especially when you’ve gone through any major life change. We moved into a bigger home earlier this year and I’m just now starting to get my footing. In fact, this year has been one change after another. Quite frankly, I’m exhausted and ready to have my boring life back! Because of thee changes, I’ve had a difficult time being and feeling productive. Until now….here are my 5 tips for being productive when you work from home.
Set and Keep Boundaries
It’s so important to set boundaries for yourself and your time. You need to treat your work-at-home job like a traditional job; set office hours, ignore personal calls, and focus on your work. In my life, a few people think that I’m sitting around all day just waiting for them to call me. I’m constantly reminding these folks that I’m working, need to concentrate on what I’m doing, and don’t have the time to sit on the phone for hours on end. I recently reminded a “friend” about this and she got frustrated with me. She actually told me that she wasn’t going to be on a timeframe to call me. Well, like it or not, she is. If it’s not work related, something for your children, or an emergency, the phone doesn’t get answered during your work hours.
Once you’ve established your boundaries, it’s time to minimize your other distractions. During the work day, I check email 2-3 times per day because it usually turns into a huge time suck. I don’t have it open and I don’t have the notifications on my cell on. If you can, turn your cell on do not disturb so you’re not constantly interrupted by notifications. I don’t do this during the school year because of my kids (their schools have 50 million phone numbers and I can’t save them all) but I do it during summer vacation. My husband is on my favorites list so his calls and texts will still come through but no one else’s will. Cell phone silence is perhaps my favorite sound.
Another big distraction can be your home. It is for me anyway. When I’m taking a break, I see so many things that need to be done and I have to fight the urge to do them. I’ve had to create and follow a morning and evening routine just so I felt better during the day. I’m actually a week away from summer vacation, which means both of my kids will be home all day, every day. They are the biggest distraction ever, even at 17 and 11. The important thing is to minimize as many distraction as possible so that you can focus on your work.
Make a To Do List
I can’t stress this one enough! I would be completely lost without my Filofax and the many lists it stores for me. I’m following David Allen’s GTD system now and I’ve noticed my productivity has soared! More about that later in a new video post….stay tuned! I have a few different to do lists in my Filofax that I use daily. You don’t have to make several lists; just do what works best for you. My to do lists are:
One each of these lists, I write down what has to be accomplished that day. Of course, if something was leftover from the day before, it gets moved on to the current day as well. Home and personal are 2 entirely different lists for me; home consists of housework and personal consists of things I want to do for myself. My personal list usually doesn’t have much of anything on it but it’s there when I need it.
Nothing increases productivity more than a change of pace. Get up from your desk and step outside. Be sure to always take a break for your lunch. I used to be one of those people who would eat breakfast and lunch at her desk. Not anymore. I take a full hour for lunch and I’m nowhere near my office. I also get up quite often throughout the day and step outside. My dogs help me with this one because they have to potty.
Plan the Day the Night Before
I do this every night without fail. At the end of the day, I sit down with my Filofax and write out what needs to be done the next day. This allows me to get a glimpse of the day ahead so I know what needs to be done ahead of time. It also saves me time in the morning because my day is already planned, for the most part. This forward planning generally takes me 5-10 minutes per evening; a small price to pay for having a productive and organized tomorrow.
Being productive when you work from home can see like a pipe dream but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve struggled for a long time the productivity and I always come back to these. Why? Because they work. Give these 5 tips a try and you’ll be amazed at how productive you can be!
What is your favorite tip to be productive at home?