The truth is that some of us do really well working from home, and others of us don’t. Some people can get right into “the zone” when left alone in a quiet kitchen. Others, need to station themselves in their dedicated office workspace in order to get the brain into “work mode.”
Sometimes there is no choice in the matter and we are forced to work from home. Most of the time this is a weather-induced problem—snowstorms, icy roads, etc.—or something else like a sick kid can mean a day at home.
So how do we become productivity powerhouses while at home?
1. Get up, get going.
You don’t have to commute if you are working from home, but if you are used to leaving the house at 8am and not actually getting settled at your desk until around 9am, don’t wait until 9am to start work. Start work as soon as you can.
If you have it in your head that you are going to start work at 9am, you have this whole hour of “spare time” which you would have spent driving. The danger is, that you’ll start doing other things around the house, and the next thing you know it’s 10:30.
2. Get dressed.
Put on your work clothes. It’s a psycho-schematic thing that you get dressed for work and your brain will be faster to shift into work mode. But, whatever, it works.
3. If you can’t work at home, don’t!
If you find your house too distracting don’t stay there. Walk to the nearest coffee shop, library, or anywhere with Wi-Fi and set up shop there for a couple of hours.
4. Treat distraction social media as a real thing.
Social media is a distraction, and some of us are great a staying away from it. Some of us, however, aren’t. Know which camp you fall into, and if you are prone to getting distracted by Facebook take very active steps to limit the amount of time that you spend on it. That’s not to say don’t take any social media breaks at all—as the odd break will do you good—but commit to just having a dedicated 10 minutes every couple of hours or something that you feel is fair and realistic.
Then stick to it.
5. Stay connected to the office.
Make even more effort than usual to stay connected with your colleagues when you are out of the office. At MobileDay we love Slack, but we also email and dial into meetings when we cannot be there physically. (Well, actually we don’t dial ever, because we built an app to do that for us. )
Star tip: Use the free MobileDay app to get you into conference calls and online meetings so that you don’t have to waste time dialing.
6. Manage the people around you.
If you are working from home and you are not the only person in the house, it is really—really—important that you set expectations with your spouse, roommate, parents, children, best friend, dog, or whomever you are sharing the space with.
There are some tricks to doing this, and you have to be understanding too as sometimes people find it really hard to remember that you are “working” when it looks like you are just sitting in the kitchen. First, have the conversation before you start work and explain that you are actually at work. Then, if you are still being interrupted too much, get a whopping big pair of sound blocking headphones.
Now, here’s the trick: even if the headphones don’t block all the sound and you can still hear people talking to you, pretend that you can’t. The person who is trying to speak to you will have to make a bigger effort to get your attention, and if they realize that what they had to say wasn’t that important, they’ll likely not bother.