8 min read
The opinions of the employees of You are personal.
- Save time.
- Live by your calendar.
- Leave your house (with caution).
- Limit time at home and at work.
- Focus on tasks.
At the end of each work day, I change the sign on my home office door from “open” to “closed,” then walk down the hall and go to dinner.
I worked from home for almost 15 years. And now I’m less alone in this experience than ever because of the health crisis. While working from home seems idyllic and suggests the vision of working in your pajamas all day, it has its own unique challenges that are sometimes difficult to predict.
For most people who work from home, there are two major challenges:
- One is to stay productive.
- The other is that your job won’t take over your whole life.
In the 15 years I’ve worked from home, I’ve developed an arsenal of 10 tricks to help me overcome both of these challenges … most of the time. I’ve taught these tips to many other people in my consulting practice and they just work!
No system is perfect, but I find these strategies help me be extremely productive from home while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
1. Save time
Photo: Djim Loic via Unsplash
Something strange happens when people find out that you don’t go to the office every day. They invite you to do things during the day that you are supposed to work on.
I’ve met some people who can truly live flexible lifestyles and don’t have a set work schedule, but most people who work from home need to make sure they don’t say yes to things that affect their work hours.
2. Live by your calendar
This ties in with the last tip, but is a little different. Plan everything on your calendar. I use Google Calendar, but you can use Apple Calendar, Outlook Calendar, etc. I know some people who still use pencil and paper calendars.
The key is to set aside time for whatever you have on your schedule. If you work 8 to 5 with an hour for lunch, write it down. If you exercise three times a week, write it down.
If you let your calendar dictate what you do at any given time, you will have many decisions to make and most people will become much more productive.
Even though I’m self-employed and own my own business, I still have a boss: My calendar.
3. Get out of your house
Photo: Falaq Lazuardi via Unsplash
When you work from home, getting out can often be too much of a chore. The errands that you would normally be doing on your way home from the office are often postponed.
However, for most people, it is important to get out in order to keep their productivity high.
To go for a walk. Sit on your porch with your laptop and enjoy the sun. Do something that you enjoy outside of the four walls of your home.
4. Limit time at home and time at work
In the introduction to this article, I talked about the sign I have on the door of my home office. It says “open” on one side and “closed” on the other. When I’m working I set it to open and when I’m not I set it to close. You can get an open / closed sign at a local office supply store. As silly as it sounds … it really works if you commit to not working once the sign says closed.
When you work from home, you want to easily look productive and let your work hours flow into your personal life. But next, you’re burning the midnight oil and wondering where the day has gone.
When I work from home, I’ve found that I’m much more productive and happier when I have clear boundaries between work and family life.
5. Focus on the task at hand
Photo: Andrew Neel via Unsplash
It took me a long time to master this. When you work at home, your surroundings can be much more distracting than when you work in an office. If you enjoy your work and don’t want to be stressed all the time, it is important to focus on the task you are doing and then move on to something else.
Focusing is a learnable skill worth doing.
6. Get website blocking software
Most people who work from home do so from their computer. It is very tempting to want to leave a review Facebook quickly a video of Youtube or read a short message. Before you know it, this quick review will take 20, 30 minutes, or more. Of course, this will not help you get your job done, impress your boss, or make money.
If you want to regularly surf the web instead of working, you should seriously consider buying one of the many website blocking programs available. There are many extensions for Chrome that work well. I personally like Stay focused for its flexibility.
7. Dress for real
Photo: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via Unsplash
While it’s the fantasy that many dream of working in pajamas all day, the reality is that for most of the people I know, dressing like you are going to work can go a long way in helping you Getting you in the right mood to do this.
I find that when I look presentable, I work harder and smarter than when I’m in my pajamas.
8. Track your time
It is VERY easy to waste time working from home. One thing that really helps is using a time tracking app. I’ve found that simply recording the time you spend on each task can help add a responsible element to the place you spend your time and so become much more productive.
I like the extension Toggle Chrome. It’s easy to use and does the job.
9. Get up and move
Hunched over to a monitor all day is terrible for your back and body. Most people do best when they take a few minutes every few hours to take a quick walk or do some quick housework.
If you use a productivity system like the Pomodoro Technique, it will automatically be incorporated into your schedule. I have mine too Apple Watch It reminds me to get up and take a break ten minutes before each class.
10. Make time for joy
When planning your calendar, be sure to include things that you enjoy. This could be cooking a nice dinner, doing a craft project, or visiting loved ones.
All work and no play is good for no one. When you enjoy programming, you can look forward to something and recharge your batteries so you can be productive when you get back to work.
As I mentioned earlier, the calendar is my boss. Fortunately, my boss demands that I do things that I enjoy.
Whether you’ve worked from home for years or, like many other people, are still getting used to working from home, these tips can help you be more productive while creating boundaries between work and life. Home office and take your time to enjoy life. Try one, two, or all ten tricks and find out which ones work for you.