Working from or at home is a great experience…until it isn’t. It could be that your loving cat decided to park on your keyboard. Your neighbors might have decided it was a good time to get into a shouting match. The biggest issue of working from home is the myriad ways you can be distracted, interrupted, or otherwise pulled away from what you’re doing.
Fortunately, you’re not completely helpless! Over the years, people have discovered a few tricks that help them get through the working day and remain productive, no matter what their home life throws at them. Here are some of the best ways to stay in the game, even if your home would rather pull you out of it.
Get the Right Space
The first piece of advice is one that begins before you even start working. Make sure you have the right space for your job. Don’t get a place that’s too cramped, too poorly lit, has too much clutter, has all the wrong colors, or isn’t isolated enough from the rest of the home. You want the space to be dedicated to your work, not an extension of the bedroom or living area.
Clean up the Clutter
Clutter is a distraction. Rubbish can slow you down. A mess can be annoying. When you work, you don’t want to have a lot of knickknacks, trinkets, or unnecessary items intruding on your space. Keep your work area clean and remove anything that shouldn’t be there. You’ll keep the surface neat and improve your state of mind at the same time.
Don’t work in the dark. Some of us love being in the dark, whether it’s to brood or to think. However, when you’re working, you want to step into the light. Natural lighting is your best option, so work near a window if you can. If you can’t, then you’ll want to invest time and money in lighting options that have the right intensity and brightness for your needs.
The Proper Tools
The right tools and equipment are important, no matter the setting. A laptop stand for table is useful if you have a laptop. If you’re working in video editing, it’s a good idea to have a second screen. If you need peace and quiet as you toil away, some noise-canceling headphones might be a good investment.
Having the right tools makes the work process smoother, easier. They might seem expensive, but the convenience factor means they pay for themselves in short order.
Build a Routine
Keep a professional routine; pretend you still work in an office. This psychological trick creates a subconscious divide between the personal and the professional. By creating this divide, you can switch to a work-related and productive mindset even when your bed is just across the hall.
It may sound like the last thing you want to hear, but starting early when you work from home is important. There are benefits to waiting a moment to let the brain get into the full swing of things, yes. However, you don’t want to wait too long. It’s ideal to have a little time to let the mind “boot up,” and then dive right into the work. Sometimes, just getting started is enough momentum to push you along to the end of the day.
Find Your Peak Hours
No one is productive at all hours of the day unless they’re a machine. Take the time to figure out when you’re at your most productive. For some, it’s in the morning hours, while for others it’s in the afternoon. Whatever the time, take note of it and do the bulk of your work (or the hardest tasks) when you’re at your best.
This means that you can build a routine around your peak hours. Maybe you get the smaller, less critical work done early in the day while knocking the hard stuff out after lunch. Maybe you finish all those presentations in the morning, giving you time to handle all the minor logistical stuff in the hours before you “clock out.”
No More Social Media
Social media isn’t a bad thing, don’t get us wrong. But let’s be honest and admit that it’s a distraction. It pulls our attention away from the work and into something else. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to cut down on that problem.
One way to cut down on social media is to log out of every account. This simple trick makes enough of a hassle that you’ll focus on your job. Another method is to install a plug-in for your browser that blocks websites you don’t want to visit for a set number of hours a day. Each time you try, the plug-in will remind you to get back to work.
Boundaries are important. This means that you don’t want your home life meddling with your work, but it also means you don’t want the work interfering with your life. If you get a great idea for a marketing pitch after hours, jot it down but don’t work on it until your “office hours” the next day. By doing this, you mentally reinforce the divide between work and life and thus maintain the balance between the two.
Distract Yourself to Gain Momentum
It sounds counter-productive, but it works. Once you get the momentum going, it’s harder for you to stop. So if you have a distraction that is keeping you busy and on your toes, it can help you get more work done. The trick is to have a distraction that maintains your mental rhythm, not distracts from it.
Find A Change of Scenery
Get out once in a while! Being cooped up in your home is no different than being cooped up in an office. Both can grind away at your mind, making you less productive and more irritable. Do your work from a coffee shop or a park with wi-fi access every so often, to give your mind a quick refresh.
The change of scenery will do your mind some good. It’ll get you out of your self-imposed cubicle and push away the threat of burning out. Yes, burnout is a very real possibility even if you’re working surrounded by all the comforts of home.
Working from home is a great way to better balance life and the job. With our advice, you can stay productive throughout the day without stressing out. That way, you can be at ease at work and really relax once you “log out” for the day.