If you work from home you’re likely to hear something like “I wish I could work from home, it would be so nice” or words to that effect from others. But many don’t realize the challenges of working from home, thinking it’s an easy thing to pull off and that it’s all fun.
On the surface most simply see the benefit of not having to commute or get dressed into work attire daily. What’s often not considered is the level of discipline and dedication required to work from home and actually get things done.
You see, the home is loaded with all of your creature comforts and things that are not conducive to actually working. It’s loaded with distractions like that HDTV and your favorite recliner, pool table, awesome sound system, all of which are designed for comfort and relaxation.
So how do you avoid being drawn into these areas and spending time doing things other than being productively working?
Let’s go through the list below.
Establish a Dedicated Work Area
You need a personal workspace, designed for just that, working. If there is a room available to make as your office, do it. Convert a bedroom or basement storage area if you must, but without a dedicated workspace the battle is pretty much already lost.
When you have a home office two things happen right away.
1. You have established that you are serious about working.
2. You have escaped most of the distractions of working from home.
Now don’t turn around and load the workspace with an HDTV and audio system unless you know you have the discipline to leave them off during peak working hours.
Establish Regular Working Hours
It is very important to establish a set of hours that you are regularly working. It’s called working from home, not working when you feel like it. The only thing that has really changed is the location. Whether working for an employer or yourself, take your business matters serious and work a regular schedule.
Inform Your Family and Friends
When you work for XYZ Company your family and friends know your schedule. They have a good idea of when you are not available for socializing and general chit-chat. The same applies when working from home. It’s one of the main reasons for establishing regular work hours, the other being that you want to actually get things done, right?
If you fail to do this the perception will be that you work totally at your leisure, therefore they can call upon you anytime.
Forget That Working in PJs Crap!
You hear a lot of work-from-homers talk about working in their PJs or, well let’s stick with the PJs. Forget about that. Get dressed and get serious.
Psychologically speaking, I feel more like work if I have some clothes on; otherwise my mind is confused thinking it may be time to stretch out again.
Your results may vary!
Create Slots of Time for Phone Activity
When others know that you work from home it is pretty much expected that you can talk on the phone anytime, and it’s true. However, it may not be wise to do so if you have something you really need to concentrate on and move closer to completion.
Hey, don’t tell my friends, shhh!
I don’t take calls during certain times, and no I won’t disclose what those times are. Rather, concentrate on your work for several hours, then catch up on a few calls, and then get back to your project.
Seriously, it’s best to avoid continual interruptions all throughout the day. That’s what they do in the corporate environment, which is one reason you want to work from home.
Avoid the Internet
If what you are working on does not require you to be logged onto the internet then don’t log onto the internet, it’s a distraction. One of those sites like CNN or MSNBC will have an auto-reload and drag your eyes right up to the page headline. 15 or 20 minutes later you’ll return to work (maybe). See what I mean?
On the other hand, if what you are working on requires you to be online open only what is related to your project, nothing more.
Find your zone on this one. What I mean by that is some of you are more productive with music playing while others find it a distraction. Personally, I’m all over the place on this one, sometimes it’s good while other times I crank out more work in silence. Decide what’s best for you and stick with it.
Love Thy Neighbor
Inevitably your neighbors will find out that you work from home and will find their way to your door. Greet them nicely; give them the butter or coffee that they always seem to be out of, but kindly mention that you’re “in the middle of a hot project with a deadline approaching”. This sends them on their way quickly and causes them to think about whether to ring the bell or go to the store next time.
I love my neighbors (most of them anyhow) but I’m seriously building something special and need to stay on-track. I’m sure you love your neighbors as well.
Huh? Oh yeah, we all have one of those types. Love em anyhow, just keep them at bay.
Be Sure to Take Regular Breaks
Much like in the corporate office, you should take some regular breaks throughout the day. Just don’t take them when the neighbor comes by.
I like to work for about 2 or 3 hours then take a 20 to 30 minute break. You should find your comfort zone on this. Just keep in mind that it is really important to get up and stretch, move around, even get out of the office and come back after a break.
It’s sort of like recharging the batteries.
Don’t Eat in Your Workspace
Getting the proper nourishment during the day is important, but so is getting away from that project you’re working on. You may be surprised at how refreshing and energizing it is to completely leave the work environment, have a real lunch (or dinner) break and return fired up and ready to roll for a few more hours.
Once you’ve established a regular routine for working from home remain true to what you are doing. It becomes a habit and increases your discipline for not only this, but other things in life as well.
When you start breaking your routine and making exceptions for this and that it begins to work against you after a period of time. The exceptions will become the new habit instead of the tightly focused routine you’ve worked so hard to create.
I didn’t mention it above but we all know that none of this will work on any given day. Hey, life happens right? Emergencies occur and what have you. But for the majority of the time, stay in-charge.
Working from home can be a really wonderful thing to do, but you have to actually produce and get things done. Otherwise it becomes frustrating because you can feel that you haven’t made the progress that you know you should have.
Remember, you chose to work from home so you must control the environment. If you can master this, you’ll be very productive as you move that much closer to creating the lifestyle you seek.
So how about you, how would or are you staying productive in your work at home? Share a few thoughts in the comments below.