Working from home is not always as great as it seems. Here are tips to stay disciplined and productive when you work from home.
Are you a freelancer who works from home? Did you just start a business and are working out of your home? Did you decide to work remotely for personal reasons?
In fact, there are 53 million people doing freelance work in the U.S., 34 percent of the national workforce, a significant portion, and other than freelancers there are a number of other professionals who work from home quite often.
But many times it can get really tough to work effectively from home, don’t you agree?
Your kids are playing in the room next door, and you just feel like sitting with them, or you longingly look at your bed as the afternoon dawns, or you just opened Netflix and found a new Marvel TV show to binge watch.
So, how do you stay disciplined and productive even with all these distractions? Here are some tips:
1. Create a Shell, Work From Inside It. Don’t Let Anyone Enter Here.
Blending both your workspace and personal space can be a little too distracting.
I know it’s great to have Netflix on while working, or to munch food, or to sit next to your child and work, but it is counter-productive.
Often, working on a task that should have taken you one hour, will take you several hours.
Besides slowing you down, mixing personal and work hours can get very distracting, thereby increasing the chances of you making mistakes like overlooking a line in the Java code, for example.
Make your workplace a sacred zone, where you won’t do anything except work. Once you are done with your tasks, step out of your work zone into your fun zone.
Related Article: How to Design a Home Workspace for the New Year
2. Keep Your Calls to Afternoon
Early in the morning, fresh out of bed and with a fresh cup of coffee, you are just raring to go. Use this morning energy to get the difficult and the boring tasks done.
In fact, according to science there are very specific times when we are most productive and it is important to make the most out of it.
You know very well that once the clock strikes 12 noon, all you can think of is food, and once it strikes one 1:00 pm all you can think of is sleep.
So, set aside some action oriented tasks, like client calls or video conferencing to keep yourself productive during the low energy afternoon sessions.
3. Invest in an Ergonomic Chair and Desk
Point one says, you must have a work zone at home, yes, very important, but what is also important is that you make sure your work zone is comfortable for you to work in for long hours at a time.
According to science, an ergonomic workstation can boost your productivity. The point of ergonomics is to design the workstation to minimize the physical strain on the worker. You can’t have your work and health hindered by poor workspace settings.
For example, consider working in an uncomfortable chair for hours at a time. Will it not tire you out much faster than working in a chair with a proper back rest? Sure it will.
Also, poor ergonomics can lead to frustration and fatigue, which will affect the quality of work.
Related Article: Working from Home? 6 Free Tools That Boost Your Productivity
4. Use Cloud Sharing to Avoid Unnecessary To's and Fro's
Cloud sharing tools like Google drive and Dropbox have made it extremely easy to work remotely.
For example, if you are a freelance writer and you have written an article and want to send it out for editing. All you have to do is upload the doc to your Google drive and share it with the editor, and if the editor has any comments or changes for you to make, they can simply add comments.
Instead of sending emails to and fro, which will only create chaos, confusion and ultimately cause low productivity, sharing on cloud is a much more effective way to collaborate remotely.
5. Track Your Work Hours and Be in Sync With Company Work Hours
Two points here:
- Set your work time same to be as the work time of your company/client. This way if you have any questions on the task or suggestions, you can discuss and resolve the issues instantly, instead of waiting for another full day.
- Always keep track of the number of hours you are working, more specifically the number of hours you are productive. Apps like Toggl can help you track your time. Tracking is necessary if you charge based on work hours like consultants. Otherwise, it can help you keep track of time and hence, work with more discipline.
6. You Must Discipline Yourself
If you get easily distracted by social media or E-commerce websites while working on your laptop, you can use productivity tools like Rescuetime to block those websites during your work hours.
Whatever distracts you, food, books or phone calls, tools like Rescuetime make it difficult for you to access them, thereby helping your stick to your work discipline.
7. Always Dress for Success
I know that being able to work in your PJs is one of the best things about working from home, but at the end of the day, sitting around in your pajamas, drinking coffee and eating junk is not healthy for your mind or your body.
It has been proven scientifically that power dressing can change the way you feel about yourself. Feeling powerful, confident and productive can undeniably help you do a better job.
You can also compartmentalize your life by keeping work mode on when you are dressed up and work mode off when you are dressed down.
8. Plan Your Meals and Personal Work Ahead
When working from home, you may be tempted to really take time for yourself and prepare a nice breakfast or lunch to enjoy. As tempting as this is, it is very time-consuming and will interfere with your work plans.
Hence, plan meals for the entire week ahead of time, so that you don’t have to waste time worrying about it and planning every single meal for every single day.
The same goes for other household work like laundry and cleaning. Plan them in advance and keep time slots for these activities, to make sure they don’t interfere with your working hours.
Related Article: 5 Ways To Make Work From Home Options That Work For Your Business
9. Start Early, Finish Early, Binge Away on Netflix
Just because you are working from home and you think you have all the time you need, doesn’t mean that putting of tasks till they’re urgent is a good call.
Especially when working from home, it’s all the more important to get a headstart on your toughest and most important projects.
This way even if there are some distractions at home, you still have enough time to effectively work on the task, as opposed to rushing around at the last minute and doing a terrible job at it.
In fact, a better solution is to finish the task as soon as you can, call it a day and use that extra time you earned to eat ice cream and binge watch shows on Netflix.
10. Get Out of the House to Fight Slumps
Sometimes, no matter what you do, your home gets to you, either through distractions, or the plain boredom of sitting in the same room day-in and day-out.
Well, you should consider going out to a cafe or library to work for a while. Seeing people around and working in a different environment can be a healthy change, once in awhile.
Especially, when the afternoons seem to suck your energy dry, this is a great solution.
11. to Save Time, Declutter Your Day and Your Desk
Two points here:
- Organize your day, knowing what to do when, well ahead of time can save a lot of time for you and also, planning ahead can help you strategically plan each task to derive the maximum productivity out of the day.
- Organize your workspace and your desktop. Knowing where everything is, can help you avoid wasting time and confusion.
12. Don’t Forget to Make Technology Your Super Power
There are about a gazillion (not exaggerating) productivity apps and tools for you to experiment with and utilize. Make use of them, make use of time management apps like Finish and task management apps like Evernote.
Also, make sure that your hardware is working well for you too. Make sure to use a high processing speed laptop and a type friendly keyboard.
13. Use the Pomodoro Technique
If you like to work with intense bursts of focus and take short breaks frequently, then this technique is for you. The technique encourages you to work for 25 minutes continuously and take a short five minute short break to stand, stretch and relax or drink water.
And yes you guessed it, there are indeed apps to help you implement the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomotodo app is a personal favorite of mine.
"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." -Paul J. Meyer