Working from home sounds like a dream job to many people. One of the most appealing aspects of working from home is that you have the freedom to decide where, how, when, and how often you spend time earning a living. On the flipside, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is how to stay productive while doing so.
It is all too easy to lose focus and succumb to distractions that, before you know it, end up taking up the majority of your day. If you find yourself spending more time daydreaming than working during your remote workday, or you are getting ready to make the transition to a work-from-home job, this list of four top tips will help keep your day profitably productive.
1. Create a designated home workspace.
This tip is typically at the top of any list of suggestions for staying productive while working from home, with good reason. Any old space in your home won’t do when it comes to building a workspace that contributes to your daily productivity.
While staying in bed or lounging on the sofa in your pajamas sounds like a great way to “go to work” in anyone’s mind, those spaces should be the last place you plan to use as a home workspace.
The ideal workspace is a separate room with its own door that you can close and use as the dividing line between home and work. If that isn’t an option you can make a home office out of any area that can be designated your workspace, where you can set up and arrange the tools you need for work, and enforce a “do not disturb while working” policy for family, friends, children, and even your pets.
2. Establish a schedule and routine for your workday.
For those with the option, choosing to work whenever you can find the time is detrimental to any hopes you may have for a productive day. This is usually because you end up either not working at all or putting in much less time, energy, and effort toward achieving a full day’s work output.
Establishing a daily schedule for your work time and a routine to follow for each day significantly boosts productivity by providing structure and organization for your work-from-home habits. When you know you must “go to work” at a certain time and in a specific way, it is easier for you to prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead and stay on track for achieving work output goals.
3. Set goals, identify tasks, and track your productivity daily.
Whether you are working at home for someone else or for yourself, you should have goals you need to achieve each day and tasks to complete to achieve those goals.
It often helps to put these things in writing to give you a black-and-white point of reference to refer to when you want to gauge your progress or get yourself back on track. You can also track your productivity in writing, as well. A simple time-tracking spreadsheet is an excellent way to record what you are actually getting done each day and how much time is being spent on each activity.
At the end of the day (or week), you can review your productivity tracking data and see if there are things you are doing to contribute to or take away from your overall success in staying productive. This kind of performance monitoring is also a good way to determine if there are goal-oriented tasks that are taking too much time or are not being allocated enough time, as well. This gives you a better idea of whether you need to allocate more or less time and effort, and in what ways, toward reaching the goals you set for yourself each day.
4. Maintain separation between your work and home time and activities.
Workers who do their job at a company location do not have the luxury of snacking throughout their day, playing fetch with their dog, reading a book to their kids, surfing the internet, or watching a movie. Those are home-related activities and should be kept out of your work-from-home routine except during any break time you designate for yourself during each day.
Likewise, you should also never interrupt your at-home time with work activities. Avoid popping in your office and answering emails because you passed by or stopping to check in on projects before your designated work time. When you keep your work life separate from your home life as much as possible, it helps you stay focused on accomplishing your daily work goals and keeping your productivity level as high as possible.
5. Stay organized – and not just your desk!
Staying organized is a cornerstone of productivity when working from home. It serves as the glue that holds all the essential elements of remote work together, ensuring that you can maximize your efficiency and achieve your goals.
A well-organized workspace not only minimizes distractions but also helps create a conducive environment for focused work. But it’s not just about your physical workspace. Organization extends beyond your desk to your digital realm. Keeping digital files and documents neatly categorized and labeled helps you locate crucial information swiftly. Effective digital organization also means setting up an efficient email management system, using project management tools, and maintaining a clear calendar.
When your digital environment is structured, you can prioritize tasks effectively, avoid missed deadlines, and collaborate seamlessly with colleagues. Ultimately, staying organized while working from home allows you to minimize stress, maintain a sense of control over your workload, and devote more time and energy to productive, meaningful work.
These five tips will get you going in the right direction toward working from home and staying productive at the same time. You can also find many other great ideas to add to this list and make your home-bound work life the dream job you always hoped it would be.