Looking for the best way to maximize your efficiency when working from home? While every job has its own requirements and demands, with a few simple tricks you can ensure that you’re operating at peak productivity. Whether you work for yourself or you are an out-of-office employee, the following tips can give you an edge over your office-bound counterparts.
- Get ready for the day. When you work at home, it’s tempting to take advantage of the relaxed dress code and simply stay in your pajamas or sweatpants all day. However, by getting up and getting ready as though you were heading into the office, you can actually trick your brain into being more productive. Not only will you be ready to work, you’ll be prepared for any unforeseen activities that may require you to leave the house.
- Have a designated work area. No matter how small your home may be, set up a space specifically for work. Even a desk in the corner of a room can be sufficient; stock it with everything you need to be productive during the day, and make sure you have good lighting. Ensure that it’s free from distractions and other motivation killers that could keep you from getting work done. Collect any needed office supplies and make them off-limits for personal use, to ensure that you can find them when you need them.
- Expect the unexpected. Interruptions happen: Your boss calls an emergency video conference, you have to pick up a sick child early from school, or your 10 a.m. appointment thinks the meeting is at 1 p.m. By remaining flexible, you can minimize frustrations that arise during the day.
- Take regular breaks. Without other employees around, it is sometimes tempting to work straight through the day. It can seem counterproductive to stop during the day to take an hour-long lunch or a 10-minute walk in the afternoon. Establishing and adhering to a routine that includes regular breaks can actually give you a productivity boost. Allowing yourself time each day to stretch and disengage from work will help you focus and be more effective.
- Plan healthy meals. Working from home gives you the opportunity to eat regular, healthy meals. Plan ahead and prepare easy lunches so you can quickly assemble them and have a leisurely lunch. With a little prep time in advance, you’ll avoid having to rummage through the cabinets in search of something to eat. This wastes time and increases the likelihood that you’ll grab the nearest junk food, or take off in your car for the closest fast-food drive-through.
- Maximize your work hours. Setting boundaries is vital when you work from home. It’s important to take breaks, but don’t run time-consuming errands during your workday, for example. In addition, make sure your friends and family know that you aren’t necessarily available during the day, just because you’re at home. Otherwise, they may assume you’re free for phone calls or impromptu visits during work hours. By establishing firm work hours and being clear with others about them, you can prevent unnecessary interruptions and stay on task.
- Minimize distractions. No matter where you work, it’s hard to deal with distractions during the day. Working at home comes with a unique set of interruptions that you must teach yourself to ignore. Turn off the TV and train yourself to ignore text messages during work hours. If complete silence is a distraction, turn on the radio or use headphones to listen to music.
- Keep a regular schedule. One of the best benefits of working from home is the ability to set your own hours. To maximize your productivity, create a schedule and follow it. If your best work hours are from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., structure your day around this time frame. If you find that you’re more productive during the afternoon, block those hours off and don’t schedule any non-work-related activities.
- Clock out at the end of the day. Regardless of when your workday is over, make a clear distinction between your work and your free time. Otherwise, working from home can make it seem as though you never leave work. To avoid this feeling, simply put your work away when your day is done. Not only will this give you a much-needed break, it will prevent you from becoming burned out.
- Assess your success and failures. Make regular evaluations of your productivity and work habits. Be honest with yourself about your workload, your ability to work productively, the number of hours you must work, and your efficiency. Make adjustments as necessary. For example, do you need to change your hours? Would you be more effective working from a public place, such as a coffee shop or the local library? Do you need a better set-up in your home? Your success depends on your honest assessment of where you’re winning and where you could improve.
Working from home can be both rewarding and challenging. It may require adjustments and changes until you establish the perfect rhythm and balance, but the rewards are long-lasting and worth the effort.