Working from home begins with a honeymoon period. For the first month or so, there’s a feeling of elation that comes with the knowledge that you can work all day in your pajama pants and sleep in rather than fight morning rush hour traffic. But as time passes and working from home begins to lose its novelty, it can become increasingly difficult to stay focused on work. You can easily become distracted by the allure of the television, the bottomlessness of the Internet and the sense that no one is actively watching you work.
The various distractions that come with working from home are inevitable, and if you’re not careful, they can easily become overwhelming and detrimental to your productivity. If you plan on successfully working remote long-term, you’ll need to learn how to say no to these distractions. The following tips can help you work better from home:
1. Build a routine. At first, one of the joys about working from home is the feeling that you don’t have to stick to a routine. While it’s true that you may not necessarily have to conform to your office’s routine, not having any routine will quickly leave you listless and inefficient. You don’t have to wake up at 5 o’clock every morning, but you should consider getting up at the same time every day and starting to work at a regular time.
2. Set up an office. Success requires a room of one’s own. Working out of your family room, bedroom or kitchen is fine short-term, but over time it can lead to constant distractions and the feeling that you’re not really at work. Set up a home office in a spare room if you have one; if you don’t, do your best to set up a working solution with the space you have. Try rearranging your furniture to make a designated office area. If you are planning to do video calls at home, set up a designated spot for this. Add a picture behind you to make your space visually interesting and ensure the area is well-lit.
3. Craft a to-do list. It can be easy to stay on top of projects at the office, often because your boss is continually reminding you about deadlines. Left to your own devices, it may be harder to prioritize. Keep a list of things you need to do and arrange them in order of importance.
4. Be wary of your electronics. One of the biggest distractions for people working at home is the ubiquity of electronics. Televisions, MP3 players, chat programs and web browsing can cause your productivity to crash and burn. Set ground rules for yourself and allow yourself to check personal e-mail or surf the web only when necessary.
5. Give yourself breaks. Just as you would at the office, it is important to give yourself physical and mental breaks from work. Take a stroll around the block or grab a snack. You will be amazed at how much better you feel afterwards. It is even better if you set goals for yourself and give yourself a break when you have achieved those goals.
By following these few simple rules, you’ll turn working from home back into the fun, low-stress experience it was when you first started. And remember – the more productive you are when you work from home, the more your company will want to let you keep doing so.