Before the internet transformed the way we work and how we communicate, the idea of working from home was something most of us only dreamed about. But the attitude to working remotely (or telecommuting) is changing rapidly, not just among workers but employers as well.
A recent study by the International Workplace Group (IWG) shows that almost 50% of Australian employees work remotely for at least half of the week while more than two-thirds work at least one a day a week outside the office.
While there are many benefits to working from home, staying productive can be a challenge. Whether you’re working from home full time, or a few days a week the following tips can help you stay productive and get more done:
Stick to a routine
One of the benefits of working in an office with set hours is that you don’t have to think about your routine; from the minute you walk in you’re on the clock. When you’re at home, it’s easy to break your routine by getting distracted or finding other things that need your attention.
If you start your day with a routine, you’re creating your own set of expectations that can help you determine whether the day was a success or not—this could mean getting up, having breakfast, replying to emails, working on reports and so on before finishing your work day. A routine can help break up the day so that you know what to do and when, without it getting in the way of your personal time.
Have daily, weekly and monthly goals
If you’ve worked from home for any length of time you might have discovered that time does not always equal productivity. That’s because it’s not about how much time you spend, it’s about what you get done in that time. Marianne from Open Colleges advises “setting a monthly goal will give you something to focus on, while having a daily to-do list helps you break bigger tasks into more doable chunks so you don’t get discouraged or put things off for too long.”
I find what works best for me is to measure productivity through goal-setting. At the beginning of every week I write down my goals for that week and each day I write my goals for the day. It’s very much a to-do list but it gives you tangible results so that you can see what you’ve done that week or month.
When you’re at home, it’s easy to slip into “comfort mode”, where meal times don’t matter when the fridge is right there and no one’s telling you off for wearing your pyjamas all day. While these freedoms are great at first, it’s important to establish boundaries that separate the comforts of home from the demands of work. For example, avoid working on your laptop in bed, or watching television while replying to emails. Have a designated work area in your home where you can comfortably work without distractions.
Listen to music
Not all music is created equal and listening to music with lyrics can be considered a form of multi-tasking.
However, some music may actually help make repetitive tasks much easier to complete. You could argue that it perhaps isn’t the music itself, but the improvement in mood that you experience after listening to your favourite songs—either way it’s worth a try.
Factors that might determine whether music is distracting or helpful include the musical structure, lyrics, your personal listening habits and difficulty of tasks.
If you’re finding yourself getting bored with your work, it might be a good idea to switch on some tunes and see whether it helps.
Make time for movement
It’s a good idea to get up every hour and do some stretches or go for a 15-20-minute walk at lunch time. You might not think that it helps your productivity, but research has shown that exercise can indeed increase productivity levels. Some experts believe that exercise can make you more alert and energised, which can have an effect on your productivity.
At the end of the day, being productive when you work from home comes down to how you manage your environment, and how you spend your time.
Did you find these tips useful? Tell us how you stay productive at home!