When you work from home, it can be easy to blur the lines between urgent work tasks and routine household chores. Your productivity can suffer as a result. Use the following tips to help you take control of your workday, and leave yourself time to relax.
1. Set a Schedule
This is the most important thing that you can do when you work from home. Set a schedule that allows ample time for work tasks, breaks, meal times and other things that are necessary to get you through the day. Stick to it as closely as possible, but don’t beat yourself up if you must deviate.
A lot of people get carried away with the idea that they no longer have a boss that is constantly looking over their shoulders. And because of that, people start to slack off.
If you are working from home, you need to remember that you still have a boss – you are your own boss! That is why you need to plan a schedule so that you can work from home just as effectively as you worked from the office. If you are constantly putting things aside for a later time, you are going to become overwhelmed with the workload.
And it does not have to be a regular nine to five work schedule – make a schedule that fits your work habits best. If you are a night worker, then feel free to work then. Just make sure that you work in the time you have set for yourself to work and save the day for doing things with your family and dealing with your personal life.
Just because you are working at home, it doesn’t mean that you should not have any disciple. In fact, you are going to need more disciples in your working habits, because no one is going to be able to do it for you. Now that you are your own boss, you have to act responsibly and make sure that you have given yourself enough time to balance your work life and home life equally.
2. Take Days Off
This can be one of the most difficult things to do when you work from home. Don’t stay chained to your work as this causes burnout and can decrease your productivity.
If you don’t have to work the weekends, then don’t. I lot of people get stressed over the fact that they are now working from home and that they are supporting their own business ideas independently. That does not mean that you need to overexert yourself.
There are many studies that prove that people who are tired do not work as well as people who are well rested. Give yourself some days off so that you can work at your best when you need to. Many people fall into the trap of working less each day and then working none stop.
If you are creating a schedule for the weekdays, be sure to stick to it. It is better to work 8 hours a day for five days and then have a weekend off then it is to work 3 hours a day seven days a week.
No matter what you are doing and no matter how much you love your job, you are going to need some days off. If you are not taking days off, then your performance will suffer as a result. Your productivity is linked to how happy you are, and no one who is constantly indoors and staring at a computer all day is happy.
You need to set time for your family and your other interests. It’s easy to big yourself a hole when you are working from home and by in front of your computer around the clock – but it is not healthy or productive behavior.
3. Write It Down
Make a list of upcoming work tasks so you know what you have to do, and you don’t miss any important deadlines. This is not really something that should only be applied to working from home.
In every job, even if you are working at an office, you should have some type of system for reminders so that you are not forgetting about important events or deadlines. But it is especially important for people who work from home.
It is important because at home, you do not have any colleagues or co-workers who are going to remind you that you need to do something. You have to really on yourself and how prepared you are, because there is no one around to help you out anymore.
That is why writing things down is a must. It does not have to be literally written down on a piece of paper. You can use a calendar app on your smartphone to keep track of important dates and events. You can even keep it all on your computer.
No matter what you prefer, whether it is post-its on your screen or a reminder mobile app, make sure that you have something. The other thing to remember with working at home is that you now have nobody to blame but yourself. You cannot say that a co-worker did not tell you about something that he or she should have – it’s all on you.
When you are working from home it’s probably most important to be organized. And writing things down and keeping lists of tasks, dates, events and deadlines is something that is mandatory if you truly want to remain productive while calling your home your office.
4. Prioritize Your List
When you make your list of work tasks, prioritize each task. Feel free to revisit and reevaluate your priorities at the end of each work day, or even during the course of the work day if you add more tasks.
When you are working from home, there really is nothing more important than being organized. Organization is important because you are not able to rely on anyone else. You are your own boss and everything depends on you.
Many people think that working from home is easier than working from an office, but it just might be the opposite. When you are working from home, you have more responsibilities and when something goes wrong and a task is missed or a job is not done right, there really is no one to blame but yourself.
That is why it is important to not only write down all of your tasks and make a list, but to also keep updating that list and rank your tasks in terms of priority. This will help you to stay organized and to meet all of your deadlines without having anyone nag or remind you about the work.
If you don’t want to do this on a sheet of paper, there are so many great online tools and mobile apps that can help you out in planning out your workload and prioritizing your tasks.
So even though it’s harder to work from home, there are so many technological tools and online applications that make self-organization easier than ever, so it really balances out nicely. As long as you plan out your workday and keep a list of all of your main goals and tasks, your workflow should not suffer at home.
5. Scratch Paper
When you work, you most likely think of things to do, things to research, calls to make or other interesting thoughts that you want to take action on later and can’t address right now. Keep scratch paper handy at your work area so you can write these things down quickly and go back to them when you have time.
And just like with other list writing needs, it really does not have to be an actually piece of physical paper in order to use this scratch paper technique of jotting things down. You can open up a word processing document on your computer and do the same thing. Whenever you finish something or you think that the idea you wrote down isn’t a good one, you can just strike it out or erase it.
There are obviously a bunch of cool note keeping applications online and for mobile devices that you can check out as well. No matter where you are doing it, just make sure that you are keeping good records and that you have a place to jot down ideas whenever you need to.
It’s always better to write an idea out, because you can’t expect to remember every good idea you have during the work day. And since there are no co-workers to bounce these ideas off of, it’s good to keep track of them yourself. It’s a great way to stay organized and on task.
It’s also a fantastic tool for brainstorming as well. You can add to these ideas and always go back to them when you need to. It’s a perfect way to make sure that all of your ideas are recorded and that they are available to you whenever you need to access them.
6. Turn Off Distractions
Some people like to have background noise to help them focus. Other people get into the television show or radio program and can’t focus on work. Eliminate as many distractions as possible to help you focus on work.
There is another big distraction that people often underestimate at home. And that distraction is your family. Even though you don’t like to look at them as a distraction, they are one when you are trying to get some work done. If you have children, they might wrongfully assume that you are not working, since they are used to seeing you go to the office to work.
If this is the case, they can constantly interrupt you while you are working. If you are going through something like this, then you should sit down and explain to them that you are working at home, and that they should not disturb you when you are working unless it is an absolute emergency.
Another distraction that you need to get rid of social media. When you are at work, your company usually blocks these types of sites, but you when you are at home that is not the case. If you are often inclined to check out your social media sites and you are wasting a lot of time on them, then you should block them on your computer as well.
There are some great productivity programs that you can download for free as well that can keep you focused and block out all of the fun and interesting stuff on the Internet that is keeping you from your work. Make sure that you have a nice quiet place to work, even the rest of your home is anything but quiet.
7. Make Lists
Make lists of things you need to do during working hours and during personal hours so you can get everything done in a timely manner. These lists will also help you focus on what you are doing and what needs done next.
When you are working from a home office, it really is all about organization and prioritization. You really need to be a lot of things and play a lot of roles when you are working from home. Not only are you your own boss, but you are also your own project manager and your own worker as well.
Everything is up to you and if you are not organized, you probably won’t be able to flourish at home and get the same things done that you were able to do in while in the office. That’s the reality of the situation and you really need to come to terms with being more responsible if you want to work from home successfully.
Making lists is one of the best ways to stay on top of everything you need to do. Remember, there is not going to be anyone in the home with you who is going to helping you out. You don’t have your secretary anymore to remind you of meetings and you don’t have co-workers that are going to steer you in the right direction when finishing up projects.
That is why it does not hurt to be very diligent in note keeping and planning as well. Making lists and checking them and updating them regularly is a good way to stay on top of all of your work when you are working from home.
8. Everything in Its Place
If you are unorganized, your productivity will suffer. You will spend more time looking for things than working. Clean up your work area every day at quitting time, and try to keep it clean during work hours.
It can be really easy to get sloppy at home. There is no one there judging you and you can leave things messy. You should really focus on working at home just like you work at the office. A lot of people just get in front of the computer without showering or even putting their pants on when they start working from home, just because it’s so tempting.
No one is watching and there are no rules, so you can essentially do what you want. But that is an easy way to fall into bad habits. If you are going to successful at work, you should treat it like you are going to work in an office, but without the commute. Make sure that your work space is well organized.
And make sure that you tell your family not to move things from there. They should know that it is your space and that you need to know where everything is at all times.
Remember, just because your co-workers are not there to judge you, does not mean that you should be a complete slob. You need to approach working at home the same way you approach working in the office.
This will help you get used to it more quickly and will enable you to be just as productive even when you are not going to work anymore. Organization is key, not only with your work, but your workspace as well.
9. Dedicated Work Area
If you just throw your laptop down and start working wherever the mood strikes, your productivity will suffer. You won’t have the things you need to work and you’ll spend precious work time hunting things down. Have at least a small space of your own in which to set up shop.
This is also important for your family as well. If you are sitting in front of the television in your living room and working on your laptop, then your family will never know if you are busy.
Why is that? Because that’s what you look like when you get home from work and are just chilling out on your coach. That’s why it is better to set aside a room, or at least part of a room that will be your work area.
So now when you are sitting in your work area, your family members will know that you are busy and that you should not be disturbed while you are sitting in that area and on your computer. It would be ideal to have a whole. This would enable you to close the door as well to avoid distraction.
And it’s a good way to let your family know that you are busy. If you have the door closed, they will know not to bother you unless it is an emergency. And when you have the door open, that will signalize to them that you are free and they can approach you.
It is harder to stay focused at home then it is at the office, and that is why you most take some extra steps to ensure that you will be able to remain focused when you need to be.
10. Dedicated Work Hours
This is extremely important for those who work from home. Since your office is in your house, the lines between work time and personal time can become blurry, and clients may feel like they can contact you at all hours. Set up work hours and stick to them.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of working from home. If you don’t set work hours for yourself, you can slack of all day and work intermittently.
You might be able to get all of your work done for the day that way, but you will probably be on the computer for 14 hours a day instead of eight hours, and that is just not acceptable for anyone, especially for other people in your life. It has been shown that people who have healthy lives outside of work are happier and work better as well.
And that is why it is important to make sure that you are able to balance other aspects of your life with your work, especially when it so easy to let things prolong themselves and it’s so easy to slack off when there is no one controlling you.
If you are setting up work hours, the most important thing to do is to not only stick to them, but to also work diligently during these work hours. If you do that, you will feel better about yourself and you will be reaping all of the benefits of working from home and avoiding all of the potential downfalls.
But no one can make you work during certain hours, you really need to do it yourself and force a disciplines set of work hours on yourself in order to make it work.
11. Distraction Blockers
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites can be a major time-suck. You can get programs and apps that block these sites during specified hours to keep you focused on work.
If you ready any survey on worker productivity, you will see that time spent on social media is the absolute greatest plague on productivity these days. Most companies have a way to neutralize this. They install programs on your computer that will not enable you to get on these sites, but at your home, it’s all on you.
If you are someone who is constantly tempted to check your Facebook and Twitter or Instagram, then you really need to takes yourself to make sure that you are not doing that all day and that you are focusing on your work.
A good idea too is to put your smartphone in another room as well, because you can easily be tempted to check your social media profiles on your phone when you have blocked them on your computer. It is very important to limit the distractions. You have taken out the television and the radio.
You have gotten a workspace for you to work in peace and quiet. You have made it clear to your family that you are working and that you should not be bothered. Now all you have to do is make sure that you are not your own worst enemy.
Block those sites and forget about them until you are done with your work for the day. Or if you can’t do it entirely, give yourself ten minutes every two hours to check out these sites. Just make sure that you are not overdoing it.
12. Reward Yourself
All work and no play just makes you frustrated. Give yourself time off, a sweet treat or some other reward for meeting goals. No matter who you ask or what study you want to look at, all of them say the same thing. People who have a balanced work and personal life are always the best workers. A lot of people talk about putting in extra hours, and that can be necessary at times, especially when you have some big projects to take care of.
But overall, making sure that you have time to relax and get away from work is the best thing that you can do for you and your work ethic. It has been shown that people who are relaxed are better workers and much more productive in the long run.
There are two other very important things to remember in this equation. One is that you need to sleep well. You need to make sure that you are getting your eight hours of sleep if you want to work better. This is a proven idea, and it is something that is recommended by all HR specialists. People who sleep enough work better. Also, eating healthy is important as well.
A lot of people who work at home let themselves go. Do you catch yourself wandering to the fridge every 15 minutes to take a bite of something? Are you constantly in the kitchen looking for something to snack on?
You should be aware of what you are eating and try to eat a healthy and balanced diet even when you are at home. At lot of people equate being at home during the weekend with eating unhealthy food and relaxing. But if you are eating at home every day, you cannot think that way anymore.
13. Educate Friends and Family
Another issue for those who work from home is interruptions from well-meaning loved ones. Inform them that you are working, and let them know when you will be free for a meal, a chat or just a cup of coffee.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of working at home. However, when you are doing this, you really need to explain the situation nicely to your family and friends so that you don’t offend them. This is especially important when you have children.
A lot of children are simply used to the fact that their parents leave the house to work and that when they are at home, they are not working. If your child does not understand this, then you have to explain it to them. That is why it is important to have a place in your home that is all your own and that is designated for work.
This will make it a lot easier on everyone. If you are in your room and the door is closed, then your family, friends, and even pets, will know that you are working and that you should not be bothered when the door is closed. However, it’s also important to make time for them.
Don’t stay in that room if you are not working and make sure that you have enough time to spend outside of that room doing other things. Taking breaks for lunch or a coffee and going to the kitchen to hang out with your family is a lot better than just taking food and drinks into your office and shutting them out again. Make sure you can balance the two effectively.
14. Keep It Moving
If you get stuck on one task or project and don’t know how to proceed, switch gears for a moment and work on something else. This will allow you to regroup your thoughts and start fresh.
Once again, it is important to remember that when you are working alone, you have to rely on yourself for motivation. There are some great things about working in an office, even if you hate going there. One of those is that you have people around you who are going to help you out.
That is no longer the case once you start working from home. And if you get stuck on something, you might be stubborn and not want to move on. Worst of all, you won’t have anyone there to tell you that and to guide you into a new project. You have to think about all of that yourself.
And that’s why it is important to be well organized and to understand that you can’t waste any time. If you are stuck on something, beating yourself up over it usually is not the solution. Simply move on to something else and then come back to the task that you were stuck on.
This will give you a new perspective and it will usually help you to solve that problem once you go and revisit it. If you are stuck in a rut, there is nothing you can do about it at that time.
And when you get stuck, it’s usually not something that is on a short deadline, because these problems usually arise at the beginning of a project. Simply move on to something that is working well and then revisit this problem when you have had some time away from it.
You may feel that you don’t have time for exercise – you have work to do! However, taking 30 minutes a day to walk around the neighborhood or do some yoga will energize your body and your mind. Your productivity will soar.
You need to remember that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. As stated before, sleep should come into the equation as well. If you are not getting enough sleep, your brain in not going to be able to perform at a high level. The basic thing you remember is that you need to stay healthy in order to work at your full potential. Sure, this includes exercise, but it includes eating well and sleeping well too.
Exercise can not only help you to stay healthy, it can also help you to relieve stress after a very long and difficult day of work. When you are sweating and working out, you are releasing chemicals in your body that make you feel better.
You know that many people talk about the natural high that they get from working out, and that’s where that comes from. Working from home is hard, because you really have to balance a lot of things.
In order to perform at your best and to be happy, you need to balance your work, your family, your personal hobbies, your exercise, sleep and general health, and make sure that it all works for you. It is definitely no small task, but it is one that can lead you to a greater sense of personal and professional fulfillment.
If you are able to balance all of this out and continue to work from home effectively and support yourself without having to go to the office, then you know that you are doing something right.