I’ve discussed this topic before, but it bears repeating: it’s all about structuring your time and getting your head in the right space if you want to be productive while working from home. To wit:
Get out of your PJ’s. First things first – take a shower and put on your work clothes. Sitting around in your PJ’s is self-defeating – you won’t ever feel like you’re actually ‘at work’. You need to start your day with an eye to productivity and that means eating a healthy breakfast, changing into your work clothes, and getting started on the job at hand.
Pre-set your work hours. One of the big benefits of working from home is the ability to take care of daily chores, whether that’s dropping the kids off at school or picking up your dry cleaning for your next business trip. But since you know what chores you’ll need to take care of, you should also be able to pre-set the exact hours you will be at your desk taking care of business. Set a schedule and stick to it.
Turn off social media. Once you’ve set up your schedule for tasks that you need to execute on, don’t let anything interrupt you. Set aside time to look at your social media, sure, but don’t do it at random and distract yourself. That becomes a habit that can kill productivity.
Take a break every hour. Stay focused for 45-50 minutes, then take a break. Assign yourself tasks, schedule out your phone calls and email follow-up. Work hard for 45-50 minutes and then get up and take a break. Get a snack. Start a load of laundry. Train yourself to hone in on getting meaningful work accomplished in 50 minute spurts and then take ten minutes to clear your head before moving on to the next task.
Reward yourself for a job well done. Since you don’t have a posse around to pat you on the back for a job well done, you’ll have to take it upon yourself to recognize and reward your efforts. It starts with looking in the mirror and saying, “Nice job!” to treating yourself to lunch. Everyone needs to feel appreciated, so don’t hesitate to appreciate your own bad self when you hit a home run at work.
Design your optimal workspace. Nothing is as important then having a well-designed workplace. Sitting on the couch in your PJ’s with your laptop is NOT an option. Build a quiet, private, functioning workplace with everything you need to be productive. Get the right computer, phone system, printer, office supplies and most important – the right software. These are productivity tools that should not be ignored. It’s not a nest, it’s your office! Design and build something that will keep you motivated and that you are proud of.
Daily exercise. On a normal business day for people who commute to a job, there is a built-in amount of physical ‘exercise’ – walking to the car, walking from the car to the office, walking to lunch, etc. Not enough to really take the place of some strenuous exercise, but at least you’re moving. But sitting at home all day is definitely not a fitness regime, so take at least an hour a day and get some purposeful exercise. The big side benefit is that you get a chance to be by yourself and think about strategy and direction. If you’re not healthy, you’re not going to be productive.
I’ve found that routine is the biggest asset I can leverage when working from home. When I get up, how I start my day, how I manage my time and how I carve out breaks and exercise time. That productive routine keeps me motivated and helps me stay completely focused when there’s work to be done.