Working from home and living the dream are synonymous concepts, right?
Ask most work-from-home employees that question that you are likely to get a look of contempt. Yes, working from home is becoming far more popular than ever before, but, as with any scenario, it comes with its own set of challenges. Working from home productivity is one of them.
Many people who initially start to work from home feel like they’ve hit the jackpot. I can go for a run anytime during the day! I can raid the fridge at all hours! I can work while sitting in my bed! I can watch sports with one eye while muting a conference call!
But a few months in, it hits them: working from home isn’t as easy as it looks, and if your boss sees a dip in your productivity, the arrangement isn’t likely to last.
Here, we break down four ways to improve your working from home productivity.
Establish a separate workspace
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the lack of separation between off-time and on-the-clock time. You quickly realize that you could be working at 9 a.m. or 10 p.m. or 4 a.m., for that matter. This lack of boundaries is dangerous, but can be mitigated by creating a space specific for work.
If you can, use an extra bedroom as an office. Live in a studio or one-bedroom? Not a problem. Get a tiny desk from Ikea and create a cubby for yourself near a window. Don’t touch the desk unless you’re working. The separation will train your brain to relax when you’re away from your designated workspace.
Try working “power hours.”
Sometimes the magnetism of Instagram is just overwhelming. Or your sister keeps texting you and you need to finish a deadline before calling her back. Or you’re dying to complete a project before going out for a run, but the weather is so beautiful that you struggle to concentrate.
We’ve all been there. One of the best things to do in this scenario is to put a timer on your phone and set it for 60 minutes. Go to the bathroom before you do this. Grab your coffee or water before you do this. The idea is to be completely stationary at your desk, working hard, for the entirely of the 60 minutes. No breaks. No email. Just work. Creating such strong focus works wonders for your working from home productivity (heck, people have even created companies out of this concept).
Find your schedule
Remember back when you worked at an office and didn’t really wake up until 1 p.m.? Or maybe you’re a morning person and your energy would wane around 3 p.m. The beauty of working from home is that your time is truly yours.
So make it work for you. Pay attention to the times when you have the most energy and work during those times. Need a break from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. and you don’t have any meetings? Do it. Maybe you will work later in the evening when you feel energized again. The key here is to find the times that work best for your body and mind.
Once you find your schedule, stick to it. Try to create boundaries around work so that you do have time off. This is a huge learning for many longtime work-from-homers—usually something learned the hard way (read: many people will straight-up burn out and damage their health before realizing this).
Change up your location
While your Ikea desk may be decorated beautifully, or your home office may feel like your true sanctuary, chances are good that you need a break once in a while. Don’t hesitate. Go check out your nearest café, or sometimes even better, your neighborhood co-working space. It can help to surround yourself with likeminded people who also work from home. You may find yourself sharing ideas, getting inspired and feeling refreshed.