There is great freedom and flexibility in working from home. However, the downside, from a productivity perspective, is the torrent of distractions available in a building designed for sleeping and relaxing in.
When you work from home, there’s no getting away from it – the dog will bark, the postman will knock and that heap of clothes will need loading into the washing machine. Sometimes it’s just an afternoon on the laptop here and there, but at the other end of the spectrum, many employers are encouraging working from home full-time as it saves on employees’ travel expenses and allows them to rent smaller offices.
Here are our seven tips for keeping those distractions in check whilst working from home.
1. Keep it separate
Have a clearly-defined space for working in, ideally a separate room but if it has to be the kitchen table, clear the dishes away first. You can extend this to your digital space too by logging out of any personal email and social media accounts.
2. Plan your day
When are you at your most focused, and when does your concentration tend to flag? If you’re a morning person, starting by ploughing through emails might not be the best use of your time. Start early (there’s no train to catch) and get as much creative or concentration-requiring work done first thing. You can attend to the emails later, maybe during that post-lunch dip.
3. Right task, right place
Most of us don’t work from home all the time and it’s best to plan the tasks you want to save for when you’re back in the office. Writing reports and blog posts or planning a campaign are all ideal for working at home in concentrated blocks of time. Trying to get through a day of meetings by relying on speakerphone at home is a recipe for stress for most people.
4. Store it
Even if your office is the kitchen table, invest a small amount in some attractive storage boxes and files to put that important office paperwork away. It will keep your work safe and help you create a separation between work and leisure.
5. Look the part
It might seem strange getting dressed up to sit in your own home, but it can massively boost your productivity. Having a few smart shirts or dresses purely for working hours will help distinguish between your job and your home life. And as soon as your day of work is over, you can simply get changed into your normal attire – just like after a day at any office.
6. Routine is important
If you usually get up at 6:30am to leave for work after a shower and a bowl of cereal, do the same when you’re working from home – don’t fall into the temptation of having a lie-in. The extra time you’ve clawed back from the commute can be the most productive hours of your day.
7. Pack lunch
There are distractions lurking in that kitchen; dishwashers to unload, tempting dishes to whip up. If you make yourself a packed lunch, as you would if going to the office, you’ll avoid those temptations and feel more professional about your working day.
With a bit of thought, you can avoid the distractions waiting behind every door at home.