Working from home allows you to make your own hours, work from wherever you want, and manage your productivity YOUR way. But the dream of working from home (which, these days, is more attainable than ever) takes a huge amount of self-discipline.
It can sometimes be difficult to stay focused on your work when there’s so many typical life things going on at home – not to mention all the distractions the Internet and social media have to offer! Plus, sitting in the same area where you also eat, sleep, and relax all day long can get pretty tiring.
But I believe that you can do it! Here, I’ve provided some great tips I’ve collected from people around the world who work successfully from home to keep you focused and prevent you from getting cabin fever.
First, get in the zone
One of the most important things that I found many people suggest is to never forget that you are still working. When you wake up, get dressed like you would for a regular work day (even if that just means a t-shirt and jeans!).
You should have some kind of designated work space in your home that keeps you comfortable and focused. Colleen Vizents, social media and business wiz, has converted her entire kitchen table to become a standing desk with two screens. Plus, she says, “I am able to see the water from my computer which provides me with a sense of calm and balance.”
Remote Hustle founder Megan Hargroder’s favorite time management strategy is The Pomodoro Technique. Feel free to register with them to learn more about the official methodology, but the basic concept is this: work without stopping for 25 minute increments, taking a short break after each 25 minutes, and longer breaks after four sets of these 25-minute reps. Sounds like an exercise routine, doesn’t it?
Well, it kind of is! It’s an exercise in focus, and it has been proven to massively increase productivity.
There are so many distractions today in our daily lives, let alone during our work hours. We’re constantly bombarded with notifications on our phones and computers, and when you throw in the added noise of kids, pets, neighbors, or whatever else, it can be a lot!
To a certain extent, you’ll have to figure out your own way of monitoring those distractions, but one simple way is to buy noise-cancelling headphones. Megan Hargroder swears by them, and they can really be a life-changer – especially if you want to get some work done at a cafe or coworking space.
Another way to fight distractions is to work when other people are busy. Sometimes I like to put in some hours while it’s still dark outside, before anyone else has woken up. Ljiljiana Brusic, an expert graphic designer from Croatia, likes to work in the evenings or even late into the night, when other people are busy with family, dinner, or sleeping.
If you’re willing to give up some of your z’s, it can be a great alternative work method!
Take some breaks
Whether or not you’re using the Pomodoro Technique I mentioned above, you need to be sure to take some breaks.
Leave the house at least once every day. No joke – you will need to remind yourself. You can just go for a quick stroll or make a grocery run, or even grab a cup of coffee or chat with a neighbor. Just be sure to get out of the house. Every day.
Freelance writer and CX expert Genevra Kirkland says that her favorite mid-afternoon is a nice, relaxing bath. (Honestly, relaxing baths are just good advice, generally speaking.) “A bath is a great teatime treat,” she says. “Plus it doesn’t mess up your hair for Skype calls!”
Get some exercise, too! Whether you’re into intense weightlifting, running, yoga, or even just some nice long walks, do whatever it is you need to do to get your blood flowing. Getting your body moving is better in the long-run for productivity, as well!
You don’t necessarily need a very specific plan for all the tasks you want to get done every day … but it couldn’t hurt! (And of course there will be things you don’t or can’t plan for, but that’s how all of life is, isn’t it?)
So go ahead and make some lists:
- small, annoying tasks that just need to be done
- longer tasks that you need to alot time for
- long-term goals
- whatever else you need to do!
A lot of the times it helps to start the day or your work session with those smaller, boring tasks, or whatever it is you hate the most. That way it’s out of your way, and you can feel better about the rest of your day!
Again, everyone’s going to have their own organizational style, but keeping track of what you need to get done and what you’ve already gotten done is a good way to move towards your objectives.
Be social sometimes
Lo Graham, an SEO expert and web developer, says feeling isolated might actually his biggest work-from-home struggle, so here’s a few recommendations on that front.
Check out a coworking space. Almost all medium-sized to larger cities have them now, so go check out a few and see how you feel. Each one will have its own plans and membership rules, so ask a few questions and see if you like the vibes!
Another great way to stay social without straying too much from your work is to keep in touch with other people from your team. Chatting with your coworkers or even discussing work-related issues gives you a little bit of that feel of working in an office – but not too much.
Checking in with someone throughout the day for any reason at all is also another way to hold yourself accountable for your work, so it can actually boost productivity, too!
(And I just really want to reiterate again – avoiding isolation is another really important reason to leave the house. Every day.)
Of course, these are just some of our favorite ideas. In order to work sanely and successfully from home, you’ll have to find your own groove, too. That might include making sure your office has a nice view, or listening to study/chill music – or maybe even using candles or essential oil diffusers to keep yourself in a good headspace. Do whatever works for you!
If you’d like a reminder of this guide, enter your email here to download our infographic: How to Stay Sane While Working From Home. It’s a helpful tool to keep on hand to remind you of some of these great tips!
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