More and more people are working from home these days. Either because their employer permits them the luxury of working remotely, or more likely, because they are self-employed and can do all of their work with a phone, a computer and a WiFi connection.
Then, of course, we have the impact of Covid-19, which looks as though it could have some profound and long-lasting effects on how we work and interact with others, which means that working from home may even become the norm for many more people in the future.
As someone who has worked from home for the last few years, I can tell you that although it comes with some obvious benefits – the main ones for me are not having to commute and being able to spend much more time with my family – working in the same place you live can present some challenges if you do not manage yourself and your time properly.
Here are ten things that I have found help me to manage my time effectively and work in a productive manner from home.
1. Create the right environment
Having an environment that is conducive to work, e.g. a dedicated office space or corner, is crucial if you want to make the most of your time and be as productive as possible.
Not having the right environment can result in difficulties getting into work mode.
I had a friend who worked from home a couple of days a week, but he often found it difficult to get into work mode, so instead of sitting at his laptop in his jammies, like a lot of us do, he used to get fully dressed up in shirt, tie and suit like a normal day in the office. Only then did he feel ready for business and able to get stuck into the tasks for the day.
That won’t work for everyone and I am not saying it will, but if it worked for him, I’m sure it can work for others.
2. Work when you are most productive
I know for certain that the morning hours are my most productive, so I do all of my deep work and tasks that require focus during that time.
Therefore, I always start early and start on time.
Check out this post: Tips For A Great Morning Routine >>>
Just because I am working from home does not mean that I should get slack when it comes to working hours.
Sure, I have the luxury of sleeping in an extra hour if I feel like it, (actually I have to take the kids to school, so bad example), but that doesn’t mean it should become a habit.
If you’re more productive in the evenings, then arrange your schedule accordingly and stick to it.
Check out this post: Tips For Productive Evening Routines >>>
What do you do if you are not really sure what time of day you are most productive? Read this post for some pointers.
3. Always use a To-Do list
Be clear on what your objectives are for the day.
Sometimes this is easier when you have a boss to direct you, but when you’re working under your own steam, you need to be on top of this and stay focused on your objectives and the tasks required to complete them.
Check out this post: How To Write A To-Do List – Properly! >>>
While working from home does mean I have (to some extent) the luxury of being the master of my own time, I do find that personal and house-related tasks and chores can take up time I have scheduled for work, if I am not too careful.
It is important to be strict with your time and prioritize your daily tasks accordingly.
An excellent way to prioritize your tasks, if you don’t use it already, is with the Eisenhower Box.
Check out this post: What Is The Eisenhower Box? >>>
5. Pomodoro Technique
I am finding this technique is working really well for me.
Using the Pomodoro Technique also means taking clear breaks, when otherwise it might be easy to stay at my laptop working less efficiently until my backside has molecularly-bonded to my chair.
Check out this post: What Is The Pomodoro Technique? >>>
Check out this post: Does The Pomodoro Technique Work? >>>
6. Reward yourself
Getting things done is usually significantly easier when you’ve got a purpose and a ‘why’ to guide you and this can also come in the form of little incentives for yourself.
Try giving yourself a reward if you can complete your task within the desired timeframe.
For example, maybe after completing a small block, you can reward yourself with a chocolate bar, a coffee or whatever you enjoy. Whatever motivates you, use it as a carrot.
Of course, you’re a fully-grown adult and you could go grab a chocolate bar or a coffee anytime you fancy, but sometimes it is helpful to play these little mind games with yourself.
You might be surprised how effective they can be if you let yourself buy into them.
7. Eliminate distractions
Avoid television and other distractions like websites not related to work.
I have very little interest in social media and don’t really waste any time on it. However, my weaknesses are YouTube and Reddit and I find I can fall down either rabbit hole quite easily if I am not careful.
To prevent this from happening, I use a website blocker.
Yes, of course, you can always turn it off or use a different device, but I find it is a helpful reminder to refocus if ever my fingers tap on the YouTube icon without my knowing.
Removing all of your social media icons from your laptop might also help. If you have the luxury of additional devices, use a dedicated device for that stuff (e.g. iPad or tablet) and keep your laptop or PC for work-related stuff.
Other potential distractions around the house need to be controlled where possible.
Examples for me might include temptations such as guitar, piano, music, video games console, DIY, other chores. The best thing is to schedule a time for them, rather than let them interfere with time blocked out for work.
Some distractions are unavoidable, such as when you have kids at home, pets, neighbours doing renovations, road works outside, the doorbell ringing. Solutions may include working somewhere else, arranging child-care or doing care-shifts with your spouse.
8. Take a proper lunch break
When you’re home, it’s easy just to grab a sandwich and then sit back in front of your computer to keep working.
While this may be okay on occasion, say when you have a looming deadline to meet, you should avoid doing this as a general rule, as it doesn’t allow you to recover properly in between periods of focus.
Instead, take a proper break. Get away from your desk and laptop. Go outside. Meet your spouse or a friend for lunch. Give yourself a chance to recharge before hitting it again in the afternoon.
9. Change the scenery
If you’re having one of those days when you just can’t seem to focus, change things up a bit.
Work in a different room, go to a coffee shop, or if it’s nice weather, work outside. You have that luxury, so don’t feel you have to stay at your desk just because you feel you should.
Sometimes, if I really cannot get into the groove, I might arrange to meet a friend for a coffee and take a break from work for a couple of hours.
One thing that can bother people about working from home is the lack of human contact, even if you’re more of an introverted type of person like me.
So, getting out and just having a natter with someone else can help you re-find your work mojo when you get back.
10. Have a clear start and finish time
When you’re self-employed, an entrepreneur or side-hustler, it can be easy to fall into the mode of working all hours, even though you are probably working much less efficiently than you would be if you were working to a set schedule.
Maintaining boundaries between work and personal life is even more important when your home is also your place of work.
You don’t have to be accessible all the time. And if you are building your own business, you don’t have to be working 24/7.
Check out this post: How To Set Boundaries At Work >>>
Time Hack Hero Takeaway
Although working from home comes with many advantages, there are some downsides and potential pitfalls that you need to be aware of.
However, these can be reduced or even eliminated if you manage your time and your environment in a disciplined and diligent manner.
How do you get the best out of yourself when working from home? Comment below!