Working from home can be the dream for a lot of people. It gives you freedom and flexibility. But it also requires discipline. That means you have to use your freedom responsibly.
Like an office job, it has its own set of unique challenges, the biggest of which is distraction.
But don’t let that hinder you from getting into the home-based, flexible work arrangement. With almost 30% of working Australians choosing a home-based setup, it’s a trend that’s going to stay. And you can be part of it (if you want it).
Here we outline things you can do to help you become productive and successful when working from home. With these tips, you can get the benefits of both worlds: the freedom and flexibility of home-based work and the discipline and productivity usually associated with the formal structure of the office.
1. Treat it like the usual office job.
This means you don’t make work-from-home an excuse to be lazy and sleep away the days. With this kind of setup, it’s harder to remain disciplined. And that’s why it’s more crucial.
You have to do two primary things: create a space dedicated to your work and set your work schedule.
Having a home office helps keep the personal and professional life separate. And it helps keep distractions at bay. You can choose what furniture and items to put in the workspace, and more importantly, what items to keep out. Also, it will be easier to transition from family time to work time with an office. It helps the mind understand when it’s time for work.
And with a dedicated workspace, you can hold internal and client meetings at home. No more costly coffee shop meetings and single-use cups.
And then set a work schedule. Do you want to start at 8 o’clock? Or maybe you’re more productive at an earlier time? Whatever it is you decide on, stick to it. Having a ritual makes it easier to work productively and consistently. Your rituals become habit. And having good habits help prevent procrastination.
Other people even get dressed. It helps them transition to focused work. So try that too. Staying in your pyjamas can be tempting, but it might also be hindering you from your maximum productivity.
2. Eliminate distractions.
Wherever you work, be it at home or in the office, there will always be distractions. There’s social media, chitchat and others. At home, there are even more. Aside from your comfy bed and your TV, you might be tempted to procrastinate and instead do chores—like laundry, cooking or a carwash.
So, do what you can to minimise being exposed to these. Sure, maybe you can resist the distractions, but the willpower exerted in doing that can be avoided if you’re not exposed to them in the first place.
You can install browser extensions that block unwanted media. Some addons replace Newsfeed items with motivational quotes, so that you’re not sucked into scrolling endlessly through your feed.
There are also mobile apps that are based from the Pomodoro technique, helping you remain focused.
As for chores and other similar distractions, they key is to plan your days and keep track. Having a bullet journal lets you do this. It’s a method that incorporates note-taking, checklists, journals, and planners.
Schedule your household chores along with your work tasks in your bullet journal. With your days and weeks carefully planned, you know exactly what to do for each day. No more excuses of “having to do the laundry” because you know it’s scheduled on Saturday.
3. Protect your health and wellbeing.
Keeping yourself healthy prevents not-able-to-work sick days. Plus, a healthy body helps keep the mind sharp.
So, first of all, invest in an ergonomic chair. You’ll be sitting on it for hours. You need to be comfortable first before you can give work your absolute focus. And sit properly. But don’t sit on it for the whole day. Take walks. They’re good for thinking of new ideas and solving complex problems. And they’re good for your health.
Don’t skip your breaks. Rest your mind. When you go back to work, you will be refreshed and reenergised, ready to take on more work.
And make sure you shut down at the end of the day. Working from home can be consuming because of lack of the 5 o’clock checkout. You can be tempted to continue working through the night, especially if it’s your own business.
So again, do that schedule we mentioned earlier, and stick to it. When it’s time for dinner, stop working and stop thinking about work. This also helps give you a good night’s sleep.
4. Go out and work elsewhere.
Having a change of environment can be beneficial for you. Sometimes, we all just need a change and the ideas come rushing in.
We are social beings. And working in a coffee shop surrounded with people can give you a boost.
You can also plan collaborations and projects with other remote workers. Bouncing ideas off each other and being part of a bigger project can be sources of new ideas and creative stimulation.
5. Protect your family time.
You need it, as much as your family does. Proper scheduling of tasks is key. Manage your time wisely so that you can give your work enough time, and your family the much-needed quality time.
If you have kids, create a schedule around their needs. You have the chance to join trips, watch recitals and attend important occasions. Protect those moments, and do your work as needed.
One of the huge benefits of working from home is that you get to dictate your schedule. Maximise that opportunity for a holistically good life: for your career, yes, but more for yourself and your family.
Are you ready to shift to home-based? Have fun!