Working from home is a privilege that more and more entrepreneurs and executives are enjoying. With the advancements in technology, you can be just as productive from home as you could at the corporate office, but there are also some challenges that come with that.
Working from home requires discipline and the development of new productive habits that allow you to get the same amount of work done there as you would in an office setting.
Here's a few habits that will help you be productive:
1. Have A Designated Work Space
Your work space is not supposed to entertain you, but inspire you to be productive. It will help your consistency by working in the space everyday in your home and actually having things surround you that help you focus.
Personally, I have a spare bedroom that I turned into an office space, which works great. Whatever helps you do your best work, have it in your home office. It may even help to recreate the typical corporate environment with your home office.
2. Avoid Distractions
One of the biggest challenges you may face working from home is accountability. No one is going to be there to tell you what to do all day long like at a regular job.
You have to avoid the temptations of watching TV, spending too much time on your smartphone or doing chores around the house that aren't as important as your work.
Multitasking is also out of the question. You can only get your best work done when you are 100% focused on it, so don't try and watch your favorite shows or do anything else during work hours that will compromise that.
3. Dress Well (Even When You're The Only One There)
You may think that you could do a little less laundry every week and be more comfortable if you just lounge around in pajamas while you work all day, but this might hurt your productivity.
Our psychology is the most important part of being productive everyday and when you don't take your work wardrobe seriously, it sends the wrong message to your own brain.
When you look and feel good throughout the day, you naturally perform better because it puts you in more of a “work mode”. If you have pajamas on all day, it creates more of a “lazy mode” for your psychology and it will be tougher to take your work seriously.
Also, if you are always dressed pretty well, you will be ready for any Skype chats, Google hangouts, etc. that may come up throughout the day. No more scrambling to dress up for a meeting.
4. Work In Cycles
If you constantly overload yourself, working from home won't workout too well for you. The whole working 8 hour days with just a lunch break in the middle was established back in the early 1900s and hasn't really been updated since by companies.
Science has suggested that people need more breaks and can't work at their peak level of focus without working in a more period-based schedule. One of the best ways to work is using the Ultradian Rhythm.
To always be working at peak performance, try working for 60-90 minutes and then taking a 20 minute break. Then, repeat throughout the day.
Instead of watching the clock all day trying to get your times right, I recommend using an app called “Work Cycle”.
This is the app I use to make sure I work in consistent intervals while still getting my much needed breaks throughout the day to recharge.
5. Have A Plan
One thing I had a problem with when I first started working from home is I was always getting too scatterbrained. I had no structure to my work and would just randomly come up with things to do and it was just a mess.
Now, I am 10x more productive everyday because one of the first things I do in the morning or even the night before is write out my goals for the day and what tasks I must get done. Then, I go through and knock them out one by one until I'm done.
If you are completely self employed, you may want to try figuring out exactly how much you need to make for the month to live comfortably and then divide that by 30 to see what you must make per day.
If you always focus on what you need to do over the course of the month, you will get sidetracked easily. Focus on one day and one task at a time. Ask yourself how much you need to make for the day and what tasks give you the best chance of making that happen.
Then, right down those tasks on a whiteboard or somewhere that you can see it and use it for a checklist.
6. Have Routine Office Hours
Have you ever noticed that you're more consistent as well as productive when you have a routine that works? If you bounce around working a few hours one day and pulling an all-nighter the next, it definitely won't help you make more money.
I recommend that you find the best hours that allow you to get everything done you need to get done on a daily basis and stick with them every single work day. Become a consistency machine if you want the best results, no matter what you do.
Without very specific hours you will have trouble with procrastination and inconsistency. You may even get overloaded throughout the week because of you not getting your business taken care of in a timely manner.
7. Know When To Stop
Having a home office makes it very easy for you to work all day and all night, but that is not good for your wellbeing. Know when to call it a day and give yourself some much-needed relaxation time to unwind and recover for tomorrow.
Even if you are working in Ultradian Rhythm cycles, you still need a few hours every night to enjoy your family, friends, hobbies, favorite shows, etc. This will keep you in a better mood and give you something to look forward to every evening.
8. Stay Connected With Your Team And Other Connections
You can get lonely throughout the day if you are always home alone and working from home. But, if you have a team or employees that you work with, stay connected with them. Make sure that they are staying as motivated and productive as you are.
As the leader, you have to make sure that they always know what to do and feel like you care about how they are doing as well. Communication is one of the most important aspects of being an entrepreneur.
Don't just check up on your team and employees though, make sure you are always building new connections as well. Even just replying to a few emails or blog comments can create some goodwill with your audience and be the beginning of some new business deals or relationships that could bring great benefits.
9. Avoid Family And Friends During Work Hours
Now, let me clear on what I mean by this. If you're a parent with kids at home or to take to and from school, that is one thing. But, if you have friends or family trying to get you to come hang out during a workday or get you to do something that is not near as important as your work, avoid it.
Having some solitary time without being bothered is what will help you be the most productive while working from home. Some family and friends may not consider that if they have a day off or something.
It maybe okay every once in a while to take an extra day off to spend with family or friends. It kind of just depends on what your business needs from you on a daily basis.
But, it will definitely help to make it clear to your loved ones that you are busy during work hours and need to keep earning a living. Tell them to just pretend you are at any real office. They will understand.
Otherwise, if you keep talking to them back and forth all day and doing chores here and there, you will fall into a more casual state of mind and be much less productive or focused.
10. Reward Yourself
If you get a big business deal or complete a rigorous task that took what seemed like forever to complete, reward yourself with something nice. Maybe have a longer lunch than usual and go out with some friends.
Maybe you could take off early and spend more time with your spouse in the evening that night. Maybe you could even go on vacation or buy something you've been really wanting.
Either way, reward yourself when you have a job well done and it will encourage you to keep getting positive results.
Working from home really is a privilege that 1 in 5 Americans are now enjoying. Don't take it for granted though. Stay productive, focused and consistent with your daily actions. What helps you stay productive while working from home?