Working from home is many people’s dream. No hour-long commute, able to keep the pajamas on while laying on the couch, and the freedom to cook whatever you want for lunch with no one judging you is quite the life. There are an estimated 54 million freelancers and millions more who work from home in the U.S., and it is becoming more and more common to work remotely.
However, the problem for many is once they get the freedom to work from home, productivity goes right out the window. Working from home isn’t for everyone, so if you are finding it impossible to concentrate, here are our top five hints to keep your boss happy and your workload manageable.
1. Decide your most productive work hours.
Working a traditional 9-5 might not work out the best for you. Look at your work schedule and decide when you are the most productive and have the least amount of potential disruptions. This answer will vary from person and to person. For some, it might be earlier in the morning, but for others, your most productive time might start later in the day.
That is one of the advantages of working from home; unless you have to be on the clock from particular hours, you can determine the best time for you to work based on your individual productivity levels.If your work schedule doesn’t require you to set hours, make sure to decide ahead of time how long you are going to work before you get started. Otherwise, you can feel overwhelmed by the day and find yourself losing motivation.
You can choose to either quit at a particular time or select a measurable milestone that needs to be finished before you can stop. If you decide to finish at the end of a project, then it will motivate you to work hard and focus on completing the project so you can quit for the day.
2. Limit the sites you go on.
We all do it. We hop on social media for just five minutes, and then we get sucked into the black hole of never-ending feeds. While social media might help you feel connected, it is not doing your productivity any favors. Try out StayFocused or Cold Turkey to help limit the sites you can go on during the day. You can also use your favorite sites as a reward for good behavior and productivity. Every few hours of staying focused, you can choose to reward yourself for just a few minutes with your favorite time wasters.
3. Get out of the PJs.
Something as simple as getting out of pajamas and putting on work clothes can help you stay on task when you are working at home. When you stay in your pajamas or relaxing clothes, you might not feel like you are really working, which might make you more likely to get distracted.
Even you are working from home, try to follow your usual morning routine and act as if you were heading into the office. You don’t need to be putting on a three-piece suit every day, but make sure you are getting out of the sweats. By putting on comfy work clothes, you can hopefully see a boost in your productivity and motivation.
4. Have a dedicated workspace.
It is fine if you don’t have space in your home for a work office! No matter how small an area, you can set aside a space that is dedicated to just work-related activities.
Only do work in that specific space, so that it can help get you in the mindset of work and reduce the potential distractions. When you relax or take a break, make sure to get up and leave the dedicated workspace. If your family members or roommates are home while you are working, ask them to treat the area just like an office. That means when you are working in that space, you are not available for chatting or anything else.
As lovely as it is to work from the couch or bed, it is not the best place for good productivity. You will continually be moving around trying to get in a comfortable position, and you are very open to distractions or naps. Not only is it bad for productivity, but it is also bad for your body to be staring down at a laptop in your lap for long periods of time. Instead, find a comfortable chair and desk and use it.
5. Build in breaks.
It might seem counterproductive, but building in breaks increases your productivity tremendously. A study by DeskTime in 2014 claimed that they had found the perfect work schedule: Work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break.
But make sure you are actually taking advantage of that break and not just using it to check your Instagram or emails. Neither of these relaxes your brain, and they can distract you too much. Instead, get up from your desk to take a short walk or grab a quick, healthy snack.Or, if you want or need a more extended break, consider incorporating a workout during your workday. Setting aside time to exercise during the workday can actually increase productivity by more than 21%. Try to make it a part of your daily routine and see if your work output starts to rise.
When you are working at home, it is easy to feel lonely and isolated. Without the water-cooler banter and workplace gossip, you might be feeling alone. Make sure to schedule breaks and human interaction time with others throughout the day. Keeping your mood up and fulfilling your need for talk time with others will be another great way to increase your motivation and productivity.
Studies have shown that working at home can increase productivity. However, if you aren’t careful, the entire day can pass you by without accomplishing much. Look at your work schedule to make sure you are getting the most of the day and not needlessly wasting time. By establishing checks and balances, you can stay productive without fighting off constant distractions.