Working from home is a hot topic right now. What with the companies like IBM and Yahoo bringing their workers back into the office, those of us who have the flexibility to work from home, or consultants and gig economy workers whose home is their office.
There are pros and cons to working from home. These are some advantages to working from home: no commute, no office distractions or water-cooler chats, work anywhere that feels comfortable. You can finally get stuff done. Except for all the distractions at home: laundry, unfinished household projects, kids, the sun…Not to mention the real temptation to work 24/7. If your home is your office, work can seep into every minute of your day.
Here is how to structure your day while working from home so you can still be productive and successful whether
Start by Having a Dedicated Space…
An office with a desk, or the kitchen table. The point is that having someplace that is a designated focus spot. It tells your brain: “When I’m here, I’m working.” And you can make sure this ‘work area’ is designed to help you succeed, with a comfortable set up and everything you need to be productive right within arms reach. Replicate the routine you have in the office by getting ready and then arriving at your workspace with the intention of getting things done. Resisting the temptation to work in your pajamas can create a mental space between work and rest.
Then Set a Goal for the Day
People who write about success for a living like James Clear recommend this one tip for being productive:
Do the most important thing first
Why? There are so many reasons, but the two I find most true are that willpower and focus are better at the beginning of the day, but also because after working all day, I like to know the most important/ urgent thing is ticked off. Done! I don’t have to fall asleep worrying about it.
Work the day away with time management techniques
One way to get started and keep working effectively is the Pomodoro Technique. There are tons of resources explaining how to use the technique to start working and stay focused. (Like this article). But here are the basics:
- Break big projects into smaller tasks
- Work on one task for an allotted 25 min (without checking your phone)
- Take a 5 min break
- Repeat until your goal is complete
A technique like this always helps get started on something that is daunting or easy to procrastinate. But also, in this world of distracted working, allows you to sink into a task and find ‘deep work’ that is so elusive to us these days. Additionally, you can group similar tasks to be more efficient.
But the best thing about the Pomodoro Techniques is…
Taking Strategic Breaks
Time to stretch, step away from your workspace. Make coffee, put in a load of laundry. Give your brain and body time to recharge so that during the next work period you can be refreshed and productive. But put a timer on for your breaks as well so you don’t get drawn into other projects around the house.
Keep Track of Your Time
Especially if you are consulting or freelancing, tracking how you are spending your time can be incredibly important for billing and invoicing. FreshBooks has a great time-tracking feature to manage long you spend of different products. Read about how successful it can be here.
Finally, Review the Day
This means you have to stop at some point. Working from home, without a commute to break things up can mean you log more hours than in the office. Many small business owners think about work 24/7.
At the end of your day consider: How did you spend your time? Look back at your list or time log. What was successful? Did you get that most important task done? Then take this knowledge and make a list for tomorrow.
Keep Exploring ways to be more productive
Switching or upgrading your basic admin software is one way to do this. Customers from CUE Marketplace will tell you that upgrading from a spreadsheet to accounting software or getting a CRM to manage customer success rates helped their business be more successful.
Visit the CUE marketplace of software solutions to find tools that will save you time when running your business. CUE only recommends products we believe will add value to our readers. For some links in this post, CUE may receive an affiliate commission.