Commuting to an office to work in a cubicle for eight hours a day may soon become a thing of the past. With Skype, Slack, and Basecamp, among other project management systems, it’s easier than ever to work from the comfort of your own home.
“With what they call the ‘gig economy’ and people freelancing and doing their own thing, being in the office isn’t as important as it used to be,” says Lisa Geller, founder and principal of Geller Consulting Group, an organizational development and human capital strategy firm that she manages from her home.
“Working remotely, though, provides its own set of challenges to stay focused and productive,” she says, adding that there are a few things people should be doing to stay productive while working from home.
Here are her tips for staying on task and making the best use of your time.
Have your own space
You might be tempted to work from your bed, or sit on the couch while working, but those are places associated with free time and relaxation — and they should stay that way. Sitting at a desk with a clear workspace puts you in the right state of mind to be productive. Geller suggests having a space in your home set up as an office, devoted solely to work.
“The best thing is to be out of the way, where you can close the door. It makes you feel like you’re at work,” she says. “You have to remember, you’re not just doing this for fun and hanging out and doing emails and looking at your Facebook, and the right set up will put you in that frame of mind.”
In the same vein, staying in pajamas all day doesn’t make you feel like doing all that much, does it? A suit and tie isn’t necessary (unless you need that to get motivated), but waking up and putting on something that makes you feel like you’re ready to get some work done can help jump-start your work day. And don’t just take our word for it.
According to study published in Human Resource Development Quarterly, participants reported feeling more authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire.
In an office, you have someone to report to and to check in on the work you’re doing. At home, though, you’re on your own. To stay on track and give your day some structure and purpose, you need to set short-term and long-term goals.
To get started, create a list of everything you need to accomplish on a daily basis, and cross them off as you go. Make sure the list is realistic, measurable (e.g. “Make five sales calls per hour” or “Complete one section of monthly report. But don’t forget to keep an eye on larger projects. Write down a few big-picture goals, with the idea being to work on them a little every day.
Using this approach, you’ll stay on track of your day-to-day tasks, and get closer and closer to your overall, yearly goals.
If you’re curious about other ways to set goals, check out how to start a bullet journal.
Reduce the chance for distraction
Be mindful of things that might interrupt your day unnecessarily, and do your best to prevent them. For Geller, for example, her dog is often her biggest distraction.
“I’m on a business call, and she’ll start barking her head off,” Geller says. “So I’ve learned to close the door, and a lot of times I’ll lock her up when I know I have a meeting or call.”
So, if you have small children, teach them that your office is off limits. If you know that the sound of a text message could break your focus and sidetrack you, put your phone on silent (or in a drawer). If the urge to scroll through social media is too great, you can add a browser extension like Dayboard or OneTab, which will block tempting, time-suck websites during working hours.
The trick is being honest with yourself. What is it that will distract you, and keep you from accomplishing your goals? Answer that question will help you figure out the best way to get things done.
Looking to ditch the office? Find a work from home job today.
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