The internet has provided businesses a new avenue for workplace ingenuity—working from home. Many companies now give their employees the opportunity to work from home for a day or two a week. Some are even outsourcing entire projects to online crews who work remotely from around the world.
While working from home has its perks—fewer interruptions from chatty colleagues and faster ways to save money online—it can be difficult to motivate yourself when you’re only surrounded by the sounds of, well, nothing. Your workload is still exactly the same and those deadlines aren’t going to go away on their own. How are you meant to stimulate yourself in an environment where nothing is pushing you to work?
Here, we look at a few ways you can stay productive while working from home.
The first thing you want to do when you know you will be working remotely is to decide when you want to start and end your day. This is easier to do when you are only at home for a couple of days a week—you will naturally follow your office’s opening and closing hours so you can keep in touch with your colleagues during the day.
However, when you are a remote employee, especially one who is geographically far away from the company you are affiliated with, like many freelance blog writers are, this becomes a little harder. You have to decide on the start and end times of your day on you own.
When that is the case, it is always best to choose your most productive hours—do you work better early in the morning or in the evenings? Perhaps you are an early riser, and start waning towards the middle of the day. Or you could prefer to sleep in in the mornings and work till later in the evening.
You have the flexibility of choosing your timings when working from home, so make the most of it.
Just as you would do in an office, you should be creating a task list for everything you need to accomplish while working at home. A task list will help you organize what you need to do and by when. With a task list, you can avoid unpleasant surprises like unexpected deadlines, and save yourself the trouble of ending up with too much work to complete on a particular day.
You can easily use a checklist maker to ensure that you are completing projects on time, so you can move on to the next item on your list.
Once you have an idea of your timings, you can create a schedule for yourself. Are there more distractions for you during a certain period of the day, such as when children come home from school? You can structure your work tasks around those hours so that you can get the most of your day.
A schedule will also help you take breaks during your working hours. Without the companionship of an office environment, it becomes easy to stay in one place for long periods of time. Sitting at your desk in front of a computer for long hours isn’t good for your health or your posture. With a schedule in place, you will be reminded to take breaks, to eat, and what projects you should be working on.
Working from home will likely make you feel cut off from your colleagues and managers. Such isolation isn’t good for your mental health in the long run, and will act as a demotivator, as well. Use effective communication tools to stay connected with your workmates—like Slack and WhatsApp messenger—so you never feel like you aren’t part of a team.
This may seem like a strange piece of advice for someone trying to be productive, but don’t stay in a completely silent environment. We are all geared towards sound, and one of the biggest benefits of an office environment is the calming hum of humanity.
To replicate that hum at home, keep the television on. You don’t have to watch it—but keep it on to a channel you are comfortable with at a low volume. You will be surrounded by sound that isn’t distracting but makes you feel like you are part of a busy environment.
Alternatively, you can use music to help you work. While songs are fun to listen to, they can be diverting. Instead, listen to film or video game scores that don’t have distracting lyrics. You can also listen to ambient sound videos on YouTube that generally last 8-10 hours, a full working day.
If you worked at a store or an office, you would be physically going to a different location for work. So, you could easily switch to ‘work mode’ once you were there. And when you got back home, you would be able to switch back to ‘home mode’ or ‘fun mode’.
This division is harder to create when you’re working from home. All your home spaces can become co-opted for work, which will make it difficult to disengage when your working day is done. If you’re spending your day sitting on your couch, in front of your television, working with an online store to sell jewelry, at evening time, when you’re trying to watch television for fun, all you will be able to think about is work.
Instead of working in every available space in your home, create a dedicated work area—like your desk or a particular room. This will help you enter ‘work mode’ when you arrive at that space—much like walking into an actual office—and will let you leave that mode when you depart from that area.
Though you are working remotely, you don’t have to stay at home, unless your work is somehow connected to the equipment you have at home. You can go to your local library or coffee shops, where you will be able to access free wi-fi, while enjoying being around other people.
The great thing about leaving home while not having to work in an office is that you can still work autonomously and save on resources at home. A strong enough wi-fi connection will let you access your online influencer marketing tool, and even let you download large work files, all without using up your home’s resources.
Plus, being away from home will stop you from distracting yourself with home-related tasks like washing clothes and dishes, instead of finishing your work.
Your home can be as productive a place for working as you want it to be. Instead of getting bogged down by the silence surrounding you or the daily distractions of being at home, create a schedule for yourself, and find ways to enrich your environment with sound that will motivate you. Keep a clear distance between your working and living spaces, so you know when to clock in and out. With the right tools and attitude, you can become your most productive self at home.