Thanks to the rise of companies with geographically dispersed workforces, working from home is becoming the day-to-day reality for an increasing number of people. It’s nice to be able to work in an environment in which you are comfortable, and set up the way you want it to be. But the downside of working from home is that it can be difficult to stay on task and to be productive without a manager or coworkers physically present to motivate or coach you. If you’re experiencing these issues, here are some tips for increasing productivity in your home office.
Quantify Your Time
Have you ever sat down to think about how much your time is worth? As a way to internally motivate yourself, assign a dollar amount to tasks, or lengths of time. Wasted time is the worst. If you’re aware of how much your time is worth, it may be easier to stay focused on the task at hand. Ask yourself if getting sidetracked on Facebook or taking a quick phone call is really worth that much to you.
Dress the Part
As tempting as it is to hang out in your pajamas or sweats as you work at home, try to resist the urge, and dress the part. Shower, eat breakfast, and get ready for your day the same as you would if you worked in a traditional bricks and mortar office building. Doing that will put you in the mindset of working, and should help you tune out the rest of the world as you complete your work.
Sometimes the biggest factor when it comes to increasing work productivity is enhancing communication between managers and their staff. Make sure that your communication software is up to date and on par with the systems used in the main office. Ask your supervisor if they can suggest any tips for you to communicate better; everyone needs feedback from time to time.
Even though you work from your home office, you’ll inevitably be dropping into the corporate office from time to time, whether it’s for meetings, for big collaborative projects, or to simply process paperwork. Assuming your company has implemented BYOD security solutions, plan to familiarise yourself with your company’s policy so you can bring your devices from home while you’re working on site. In doing so, you’ll more seamlessly access files and communicate with necessary parties; it’s a degree of connectivity will create a continuity between your workflows at home and the demands of your corporate office.
Along with recognising the value of your time, setting mini-goals for yourself will help you stay on task and on track toward meeting deadlines. When you begin a task, no matter whether it’s a huge, month-long task, or one that you can complete in a few hours, designate a specific date or time by which you need to complete it. Give yourself mini-goals and deadlines, and hold yourself to them.
It’s easy to get distracted, especially when you’re working on things that aren’t of particular interest to you, or that is challenging in some way. Just remember the deadline goal you set for yourself, and look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Respect Your Time
The best way to influence people to respect your time while you work at home is to respect it yourself. Family and friends will inevitably call you throughout the day, or ask you to run quick errands for them. By no means should you hole up in your office; it’s okay to be on watch for the cable guy or take a call here and there. But be mindful of how much time you’re spending on those activities and how easy they can steal precious time out of your workday.
Assign Time Limits to Tasks
Another common place to get off track is when it comes time to take care of routine daily tasks like checking emails and voicemail messages. Give yourself a time limit of 20 minutes or less to handle these. One good way to go about it is to organise emails according to their urgency. Set aside any emails that you can respond to later, or are of a personal nature. This way you’ll have a better idea of the tasks you’ll need to attend to and when, and you won’t end up wasting an hour of your morning processing emails.
Other tasks can have time limits too. Before you set out to start a new project or task, decide how much time you’ll need to devote to it, and stick to that timeframe. Of course you can adjust it as you go; it’s your project, after all. But at least you’ll be aware of how you’re spending your time.
Working from home can be highly rewarding for those who are self-driven and can stay on task. It’s nice to work at your own pace and by your own schedule. But even the most driven, dedicated employees can get distracted and see their productivity fall as a result. Hopefully these tips will help you stay on task and headed toward a successful career from your home office.