How to *Productively* Work from Home

For a lot of people, working from home may seem like a dream situation. Getting up late, working in your pajamas, and being able to spend the entire day hanging out with your favorite living thing on this earth…your dog (or at least that’s my dream anyway). But what about when you actually have to buckle down and get work done? Working from home while also meeting deadlines and producing quality work requires a high amount of drive and discipline. It’s not for everyone, but if you think it is a good fit for you or you’ve been given the opportunity, here are some good ways to make your home more “work friendly” so you’re as productive as possible:

Stay away from personal tasks.

Work time is work time and personal time is personal time. When working from home, the two may be in close proximity to one another but should never overlap. Would you watch Netflix or online shop while sitting in an office cubicle while you complete a PowerPoint? No. This is how it should be working from home as well. The human brain, while one of the most amazing structures in the universe, has a hard time focusing on more than one task at a time. If you’re attempting to finish up monthly reports while also binging the last season of OITNB, spoiler alert, those monthly reports may not turn out great. During work designated time, it’s time to work.

Discipline your time.

This may be the most hard-to-swallow pill about working from home. In order to successfully work from home and still contribute and be productive for your business, your time management skills need to be great. If you’re constantly torn between responding to emails or watching Netflix, working from home may not be the best fit for you. But if you’re able to consistently manage your time throughout the day to get projects done and actual work accomplished, then you’re doing it right! The last thing you and your boss want is for business productivity to suffer, so get a planner, fill out a calendar, and make sure you are setting at least a few hours aside per day to get quality work done.

Power Hour

Designate the first of hour of at-home-work to complete your most “daunting” or “un-enjoyable” tasks for the day. Without a direct superior over your shoulder when working from home, these harder projects may tend to sit on the back burner purely because they are more difficult problems to solve. As most people’s productivity is highest in the morning, take this time to chip away at these more difficult projects.

Do not stay in your pajamas.

This has been proven time and time again! Look good, feel good as some would say. By making the effort to get up and change clothes, your brain switches into work mode and begins revving its engine for the day, ready for  you to bust out some quality work. No, you don’t have to put on a formal dress or that tux that’s been collecting dust in the back of your closet since senior prom- but putting on a change of clothes cleans the slate and gets your ready for a great day of work. Plus, if you get called into a last minute meeting, you’ll be all ready to go!

Set up dedicated office space in your home.

One of the biggest issues work from home employees cite is the inability to separate their work life from their personal life. After all, your living space essentially becomes your entire office! If you aren’t in a living arrangement that allows you to set up your office in a separate room, at least try to segment only a single area of your space that is dedicated to working. A quality desk and desk chair are a great place to start! As long as you are able to shut down your computer and step away from this space at the end of the workday. Being able to create this boundary between work and personal life will be extremely beneficial in the long-run.

Communication is essential.

It’s important to remember that unless you are an entrepreneur/sole employee of a company, there are other people within your company that you will need to communicate with on a daily basis. Whether it be emails, Slack, phone calls, or otherwise, it’s important to remember that good communication is essential to a company performing like a well-oiled machine. Make sure to properly mark your calendar when you have meetings when you’ll be physically in the office, when you have a vacation, etc… This makes it easier to set meetings and deadlines and also prevents you from becoming “that employee” (yeah, you know the one).

Get out and interact during the day.

Work from home doesn’t always mean work from home. In an age where everywhere has wifi, and some cities are completely wifi-enabled, work environments are endless. I’m a big fan of working from coffee shops because caffeine…but many people say libraries, parks, and restaurants are also great places to work! But choose your work spot wisely, especially if you are someone who is easily distracted or can’t focus with tons of external stimuli around. However, the human brain is often most productive when learning tasks in a new or novel environment, so if you’re stuck in a creative or productive rut, getting out of the home office and grabbing a cappuccino from the cafe down the street may be exactly what you need!

Get at least 20 minutes of exercise during the day.

I think by now we can all agree that regular exercise is a good thing. If you work a 9-5 job, your workout time is most often limited to early morning or late evening, also known as times when working out seems like the last thing you want to do. Working from home allows you to take advantage of a non-traditional work schedule and squeeze in a workout during a time you may not normally be able to. Sometimes this means being able to take a walk at 1 pm when the sun is shining rather than at 8 pm when it’s dark and you’ll be eaten alive by mosquitos.

As a reminder, working from home is not for everybody. It takes a level of self-discipline that is extremely important when settling down to get work done. If you are someone who is easily distracted or slacks off on work when unsupervised, working from home may not be for you. If you think it might be a good fit though, bring it up to your boss – even if it’s just starting with one day working from home a week. Get your space ready and get your mind right because your productivity is about to be off the charts!

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Digital marketing specialist from Milwaukee, WI. I semi-hibernate through Wisconsin winters and eventually make it to spring. My hobbies include reading, piano, the gym (gains?), and spoiling my puppy. I've never met a hobby I didn't like. Follow along on my journey of apartment triumphs and defeats, served with a hearty side of sarcasm.

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