Staying Productive While Working From Home
Winter is fast approaching. It isn't all smiles and holidays. Winter means stomach bugs, the flu, snow, ice, kids' school is cancelled, and more. If you're lucky you won't get hit with multiple winter downfalls at once.
As the chaos ensues outside of work, the office doesn't slow down. There is work to be done regardless of the forces of mother nature.
This is a busy time of year. With icy roads trapping you inside, kids being out of school, and the flu circulating, people consider working from home. It sounds like a great idea, but as you may have discovered, opening your computer at the kitchen table is a whole lot different than your desk at the office. Screaming kids, chores, television. There are a ton of things that have the potential of tugging at your attention span.
A study from a couple of years ago suggests that working from home can actually boost productivity and save companies money. For myself (and many others at our office), we love working at home. Building your own schedule, sleeping in an extra hour, the comfort of your home, etc. That being said, adding in sick toddlers, energy filled kids out of school, a stressed out parent, or a short attention span can make it a bit more complicated.
So what CAN you do when working from is less than ideal? Here are the basics to stay productive when working from home:
1. Set aside a specific place in your house specifically for work
2. Create a daily work schedule
3. Setting boundaries with your family
Create a Space
It’s really tempting to just work in your pajamas, but I suggest getting dressed and preparing for work as you normally would. This will help to set an environment that gets results. If you’ve got a home office or spare room, great. If not, set your kitchen table up like your office and act as though you’re actually there. Don’t surround yourself with the normal clutter and make sure everything on the table has a purpose. If you can get out of the house and have a coffee shop or hangout spot nearby, you could even consider setting up shop there for a while.
Create a Schedule
Boundaries are good, and you’ll need them if you’re working from home. You might be tempted to watch TV while you work…or take a break to finish up some chores. Don’t do it! Create a schedule with defined work hours and set break times. Set a timer on your phone if you need some help to stay on track.
There are lots of techniques out there to help you stay productive. A good one to consider is the Pomodoro Technique. This time management process involves breaking tasks into manageable pieces so you don’t get off track. Apps for Android and iOS available too!
Lifehack.org has some good suggestions for setting up a schedule and making sure your family knows your boundaries. They can even help you stay on task!
They setting specific times to check emails, having a family calendar and explaining to kids why you need to work. Of course, it’s just as important to STOP working when the day is done. It can be tempting to work later into the night or start early in the morning when you work from home if you don’t set boundaries. When 5 o’clock rolls around shut things down! Family time should still be family time. That will help to keep everyone happy!
Working from home can have it challenges, but it can be a good way to get work done if you set up some guardrails.