There are a bunch of benefits to working at home: the commuting time is non-existent, you can work in your PJs, and you have easy access to all your favorite food and drink. But that’s also the problem—your home is also the place where you relax, and getting your brain into work mode can be difficult.
Forbid Yourself from Doing Chores
I have a simple rule: if I wouldn’t do it in an office, I won’t do it when I’m working at home. That means I’ll never even think of laundry, the vacuum cleaner doesn’t come out from under the stairs, and I won’t do any cooking that involves more than a microwave or a toaster. The potential for procrastination is so much easier at home: don’t give yourself any leeway—even just a quarter of an hour a day will eat away at your productivity.
More commonly known as the Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro being the Italian word for tomato), this time management method involves setting a timer to 25 minutes, working on a set task for 25 minutes, taking a short break of 3-5 minutes and repeating. If you find yourself constantly trying to do five things at once give this this technique a go: it can be a great way of focusing your attention helping you to efficiently tick off items on your to do list.
Set Aside Time for Emails
You’ve seen this tip time and time again: instead of dealing with emails as they come to you, set aside some time to read and respond to them. That way you don’t end up being distracted by interruptions. I’m repeating it here because I ignored this tip for years. I used to think that I didn’t get enough emails for it to be a problem. Then I convinced myself that I might receive an email that was so important it just couldn’t wait. Whatever excuses you tell yourself, just try it for a week—I promise you’ll feel more productive by Monday lunchtime.
Shower, Get Dressed, Eat
You’ve probably already figured this out, but if you haven’t yet I’m going to save you some time by demanding that you start every day by showering, getting dressed for work, and having a good breakfast. This puts you in the mindset that you’ve got a day of work ahead of you, rather than a comfortable day at home.
Set Aside a Work Space
If you have the space, a home office is an absolute must—check out these tips for ideas about how to create the perfect work environment.
If you don’t have the luxury of your own work office all is not lost. Just try and create an area that feels like it’s meant for working in (rather than living in). The separation isn’t just good for making you more productive while you’re on the job, it’ll also help you to relax once you’ve clocked off for the day. I had a friend who did that by setting up a little workstation (which consisted of a notebook, his laptop and a desk tidy) in the same spot on the kitchen table every day, which is certainly better than nothing.
Have the Necessary Tools for the Job
With the greatest will in the world, if your tools aren’t up to the job you can’t expect to be productive. Make sure your computer / laptop has enough processing power to let you run the applications you need without any slowdown. If a fast, stable internet connection is essential to your work think about backup solutions to make sure you can stay productive in an internet outage.
Find a Playlist That Works for You
While there is a small population of people that likes to get work done in absolute silence, I think most people find it easier to focus with some background music—especially if it drowns out unexpected ambient noise, whether it’s the buzz of traffic or your next door neighbour. I find lyrics distracting, which perhaps explains why I tend to end up with classical music playing, but find whatever works for you. Research shows that music is particularly helpful when dealing with repetitive tasks, so even if you usually find music a distraction, why not try immersing yourself in something to help you complete the more mundane tasks?
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