I started working part-time from home in 2003 and full-time from home in 2006. Although I’ve been someone else’s employee for the last 5 years of that, I still use all of the same techniques for staying focused and productive as an employee that I used as a freelancer. Here are a couple of my favorite tips for productivity when you work from home:
- Have a designated workspace and keep it holy — Mommy’s desk is not for crafting, storage, kid snacks, or other non-work tasks.
- Have a designated phone line and keep it holy — work calls only on the work phone, whether cell or land line.
- Set and enforce regular working hours; limit “flexibility” to true emergencies. That means keeping work time for work (no mid-day errands or runs to the gym!) and keep personal time for personal (do not check your work email during dinner) unless you specifically plan set times to mix work and home.
- Get fully dressed every day (casual clothing and slippers acceptable); use regular video-conferencing in place of phone calls to fight the temptation to hang out in jammies all day.
- Create accountability by establishing interim deadlines for projects, and schedule voice or video check-ins with others about those deadlines.
- Go beyond email to reinforce human connections. Meet regularly with supervisors, project managers, and colleagues, whether by phone or by videoconference.It’s easier to stay focused and engaged when you feel a connection to the people you work with.
- Use productivity and organizational tools like OneNote, Todoist, and my Outlook calendar to keep track of deadlines, corral project information, and track progress through various tasks and subtasks.
- Create a workspace that supports what makes sense for your brain. I’m a piler, not a filer, so I have a lot of flat surfaces in my small home office where I can drop materials related to specific tasks or projects and keep everything organized. I also use lighting that energizes me and decor that motivates me to help me stay on task.
- Take advantage of working remotely by taking meaningful breaks to recharge. My favorite breaks are short bursts of exercise, like turning on my music and busting out a quick Zumba routine or grabbing my iPad to work through a brief yoga sequence using my favorite app. Whenever I get bored or distracted, these breaks help me get back on track.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay productive while working from home? Do you have a unique take on one of my suggestions? Leave a comment!