The number of people who work from home is ever increasing thanks to the wide range of jobs available online and improved communications. Some offices now let employees submit work by email and people like me love the freedom of working from our own office at home.
The main problem that arises is that productivity can suffer because it is too easy to switch on the TV, wake up late or get distracted on Youtube or Facebook. Hopefully, these 3 tips will help improve your productivity when working from home.
1. Get Organised
My last post was a review of Wunderlist which is a simple to-do app. If you don’t already have something similar, get it now (it is free). When a new task arises either do it straight away if it can be done quickly, or add it to the list. Immediately you will free up your mind to concentrate on the task in hand. Once you have a todo list open all of the time you can file tasks away to be done at a later date, this means you need not worry about them anymore. Even a simple notepad and pen will do the job, although they get messy if you write like me. This is such a simple way to start getting organised and you should get that clear headed feeling which comes after tidying a very messy room.
Keep distractions to a minimum. If you need to use Facebook and other personal social sites, do it at a certain time. Personally I have a quick browse there as soon as I wake up with my morning coffee, then I try to leave those sites alone until the days work is complete. Keep your workspace tidy always. Again this allows you to stay focused and free from distractions. If it doesn’t need to be there get rid of it or file it away. It should be obvious but make sure your computer is well organised too. Get a second monitor and always file everything away neatly so that your desktop is not cluttered with files. For more in depth organisation advice I recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. He really goes deep on organisation but everyone will take something away from the book.
2. Take Regular Breaks
When I first started working from home the major thing blocking productivity was actually spending too long in front of my computer screen. I thought by working for longer I was more productive, totally wrong! I would get eye strain and painful throbbing headaches. My vision would go weird after a while and I probably spend at lot of time just staring at the screen like a zombie. Then I read about the Pomodoro Technique, which sounds deep but it actually just involves having a break every 25 minutes. I downloaded a timer app which timed work and short breaks and it soon got me working much better. I could go all day with no headaches or fuzzy vision. Plus I got to enjoy regular breaks. That was a couple of years ago and I don’t use the technique anymore, but it ingrained the need to take regular breaks.
Even if it is just walking around the room and making a drink, be sure to step away from the screen every half an hour or so. I use my tablet to play a quick android game for 5 minutes, or play a 10 minute game of soccer on the X Box, or watch a 20 minute comedy show on TV. Another reason to take breaks is that you often come back refreshed. If I am doing a report then I leave the final proof read until after a break. This seems to give me a new perspective and helps me find improvements and mistakes. For example after writing this post I will take a 5-10 minute break and then double check everything when feeling fresher.
3. Get A Life
When working from home it is too easy to order food in and create a comfortable cocoon of entertainment. I became a hermit for a while, even when I was living in a great location near a beach. Force yourself to go out and enjoy an activity. I have always hated exercise like going to the gym, but rock climbing just clicked and it has become my “thing”. Everyone needs “a thing”! Having something like a sport or hobby gives you energy and fuels your inner life force. This passion for your “thing” will improve your well being, clear your mind and let you recharge your batteries. This should make you a more passionate person and help you get motivated in other aspects of life too such as work.
If you have any vices then it is time to make sure they are in check. I have always loved drinking, cutting down to 3-4 light bottles of beer twice a week means I don’t get hangovers but I do get that unwind time. When you want to indulge in your vice, get out and do something instead, even it is just means dinner and a walk at the mall. I like to find any excuse to go out. Yesterday I decided I need a soap dish, so that was an excuse to spend a couple of hours at the mall. For £3 I bought a crappy soap dish which has already proved useless, but I came back having walked a mile and clear headed. When you work from home it is more important than ever to get outside. It should go without saying that being sociable will help you become more balanced too.