As someone who runs a business from my home-office I know the importance of staying productive despite the inevitable home-based distractions. With the real prospect that the coronavirus will leave many more office workers confined to barracks and forced to work from home I thought I’d share a few of my home-working ‘top-tips’ to help maintain your productivity and well-being if the whole home-working thing is new to you.
- Start and finish your working day at the same time you would if you were going into the office – the lack of a commute can give you time to do other things like exercise, meditation or even preparing an evening meal
- Dress for work, whatever that is for you. It helps to get you in the right frame of mind
- Try to create a space specifically for working, somewhere that is different to the home environment and somewhere you consciously ‘go to’ in the morning (and importantly leave at night). Ideally this would be a separate room, but it doesn’t have to be, just make it feel like your office work space. And it really helps me to face a wall!
- Write down a daily ‘to-do’ list first thing each morning. Keep it visible and make sure you work through it, ticking-off completed items as you go. OK, priorities can change during the day, but try to get as much of it done as you can; this is a great measure of personal productivity.
- Ensure that you have human interaction as often as you can, at least every day; phone calls, Skype, Facetime, anything which requires a conversation with someone. It will keep you on your toes and provide important stimulation.
- Schedule breaks in which you get up and move about, have a drink or something to eat. Tempting as it may be to simply keep going you must make sure you take a break from time to time.
- Switch off all social media and other digital distractions. It’s hard to resist the ‘red blobs’ on our phones and easy to be dragged into a social media grazing session. This is a killer for productivity. As an aside, this year I’ve consciously reduced all of my digital distractions and feel much better for it (if you’re interested in doing something similar I’d urge you to read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – it’s excellent)
- Don’t try to multi-task when attending virtual meetings; be present, focus on what people are saying and be clear with your contributions – its ultimately more productive and shows respect for others on the call. Ideally use video conferencing software where you can see others and they can see you as this helps keep everyone engaged.
- Wherever possible don’t respond to home-based distractions. You can easily lose an hour loading the dishwasher, feeding the cat, emptying the washing machine…, tempting as it is it’s the first step on the slippery slope to getting the vacuum cleaner out. If you can’t resist doing the odd job align these activities to your scheduled breaks and stick to it, but I’d urge you to abstain!
These help me and I hope there’s something useful in there for you too. Please share with others, and of course if you have tips that you think will help me be more productive when working from home, I’d love to hear them.