Once you have a clean, functional home office, it is finally time to sit down and get to work.
Though working from home comes with amazing perks, it can also be more distracting than working in an office. At home, you do not have your boss or other superiors monitoring you, so if you spend a little extra time on social media at home, who will know? And if your children are at home or a friend drops by in the afternoon, how can you stay focused?
The truth is, working from home comes with its own set of challenges, but with the right frame of mind (and a solid door), you can be productive in your own home. Here are a few great tips to get you started.
Set up office hours and stick to them
When people start working from home, they often get caught up in their freedom. Why start work early when you have all day? Why not run an errand or stop by for coffee at a friend’s house. By the end of the day, you are either up all night catching up or you never get anything done at all.
Having too much freedom can hinder productivity. The best thing to do is to set up office hours just as you would if you were going into an office or other place of work. You can be flexible and start work early in the morning and finish in the early afternoon, or if you want to wait until your children go to school, start work in the late morning and finish in the early evening.
Make sure your partner, children, friends and family members respect your work hours and treat them as if you were not at home at all.
The clothes you are wearing and the state of your hair can affect your motivation levels. If you are still in your pyjamas, what is there to stop you from crawling back into bed?
Getting in the right frame or working mind starts with a shower and a clean shirt. Once you set up office hours, set your alarm early enough so you can get up, make coffee or tea and take a shower. Dress as if you were going to a casual restaurant. You do not have to wear office apparel (though you definitely can if you want), but definitely don’t opt for the trackie dacks. Put on a pair of jeans and a nice shirt or sweater and get to work.
Choose a cloud system
Your computer is in excellent condition and you back up your files every now and again, but if you are not saving files to a cloud system (such as Dropbox), then you could lose everything.
Research cloud systems and discuss them with your boss or clients, if necessary. Choose one that is easy to use and organise and begin saving files to it at the end of every day. This will help you backup your files in case something happens to your computer or you are away from your computer and need to access certain files.
Invest in a noise-cancelling headset
As you are working from home, you will probably have to phone into meetings in order to participate. Therefore you need to give your full attention to the task at hand. Invest in a noise-cancelling headset that will block out at lawn mowers, construction or television sounds in the area and let you focus on your work. Your headset should also have a mute button so people on the other end of a conference call cannot hear sirens or other noises coming from your end.
Even if you are not on a call, you may want to wear the headset around your office anyway to cancel out any distracting noises.
Develop a system for checking in
All offices and departments have different communication needs. Some require almost constant connection to co-workers while other employees only speak to their supervisors once or twice a day.
Consider different types of communication technology to fit your needs. Skype is great for instant messaging as well as voice and video calls. You can also set up conference calls with Skype if you need to reach more than one person. As an alternative, try Google Hangouts, which allow up to 10 people to talk at once.
Of course, you should be meeting with your co-workers in person at least once a month, but that does not mean you have to go into the office. Invite everyone over for a lunch meeting (cook on your own or order take away) or meet everyone at your favourite bakery or coffee shop. Talking out a problem or drafting an idea is sometimes more productive when done with everyone in the same place so remember to be social now and again.
Avoid the kitchen
When you do not have limited access to food at the office, you do not have the option of distracting yourself with a snack, but at home, it is really easy to slip into the kitchen a few extra times a day and fix yourself something sweet or savoury.
Keep a few quick, healthy snacks in your desk, like granola bars, dried fruit or crackers, and go into the kitchen only for meals. This will take discipline on your part, but if you can stay out of the kitchen, then you can stay in your office.
Indulge in a distraction now and again
When you are in an office and you want to take a five or ten minute break, what do you do? You might pop over to your favourite social media platform, or you might go and chat with your co-workers briefly.
What is really great about working out of a home office is that it gives you the ability to let yourself be distracted now and again. On nice days when it seems like you have hit a brick wall, it is okay to go outside and go for a stroll to clear your head. Walking away from work for even ten minutes can help you see your problem in a whole new light.
Working from home is the dream for many people, but if you are not focused, your beautifully organised home office will stand empty. Keeps these great tips in mind as you are working from home, and your productivity will surely skyrocket.