Working from home can be a blessing, but there is a definite learning curve to staying productive when you’re in the same space you use for relaxation. Fortunately, it takes just a few changes to your process to stay on track.
1) Establish a cue for when it’s time to be in the zone. If your work area is multi-use, changing the atmosphere can remove temptation. Turning on bright lights, opening curtains, or playing the news or low music can all help make the space seem different.
2) Shut the door or use headphones. This tip isn’t about you- it’s about those around you. Having a visual cue that you are not to be disturbed can make a big difference when you have others that are prone to interrupting.
3) If neither of those work for you – get out! Coworking spaces are valuable, private spaces where you can still set your schedule and not get asked about dinner. Search Remotely is a great resource for remote workers that can link you up with coworking spaces in your area.
4) Get the little things out of your brain: You’ll never be your most effective if you’re constantly trying to remember to buy milk. Write future plans, doctor’s appointments, and shopping lists down on paper or record them in your phone so they’re not floating around in your head to distract you. Just don’t throw that post-it away at the end of the day!
5) Be visual. A whiteboard lets you draw out projects so you can see your next step at a glance. Simple Kanban boards are a great option if you have multiple projects to juggle.
6) Make digital visual: If you’re lucky enough to have multiple monitors, a great use of one of those monitors is for virtual whiteboards, to hold all your digital information at a glance. Milanote is a popular tool to track projects, add research, create mood or storyboards.
7) If social media or news feeds are pulling you away from your work, use software like Freedom to block them during your working hours. You can customize your filters so only your most problematic sites and apps are blocked.
8) Pomodoro techniques are perennial for a reason. They let you power through work in bursts, usually 25 minutes at a time, with structured breaks so you don’t wear yourself out.
9) Take a step back. If you’re floundering in a project, it’s time to reset. If you’re not sure what you should be doing, write down the three most likely options. Then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.
10) Leave work at work. Switching in and out of work mode all day because it’s near at hand is a recipe for burnout. Make sure to leave yourself some time. Pet your dog, watch your shows, and start fresh again tomorrow.
Sometimes, working from home can seem like more of a curse than a blessing. Hopefully with these ten tips, you will be able to harness your time constructively and make working at home a dream come true.