For many people who work remotely using their home as their office, the biggest challenge can be to stay focused and self-accountable to being productive. Without other colleagues physically present and the temptation to mix home and work chores its easy to waste away the day.
Any gains won through having no commuting time can easily be lost through hanging the washing when you should be writing that report.
What you need is self discipline and a healthy dose of mental toughness achieved through adopting a defined plan and habits that help you stay focused on achieving that plan.
Courtesy of Nina Zipkin, writing in the excellent Entrepreneur journal, here are some practical suggestions on how to be productive;
1. Wear work clothes not broad shorts and t-shirts.
While we understand the inclination to be comfortable in the privacy of your own home, it could make you feel more relaxed during the workday than you intended if you opt for pajamas or sweatpants. Put on an outfit that makes you sit up a little straighter. That way you’ll get in the frame of mind to put your best foot forward and do your best work.
2. Create a defined workspace.
Pick a spot — preferably not your bed — where you will do all your work. It creates a routine and necessary boundaries.
3. Invest in your surroundings.
Make your work space a place where you actually enjoy spending time. Decorate it with inspiring or calming images and colors that will help you focus. Throw up some art, get plants and buy a chair that is actually comfortable. If you look forward to getting started with your work every day, it will boost your productivity as well.
4. Get some fresh air during the day.
Ensure that throughout the course of the day you’re not glued to your seat, otherwise you may never leave the house. Getting some fresh air and new perspective can help you with your biggest projects.
5. Limit your social media.
“Oh, I’ll just take two minutes to look at Instagram and get right back to work,” you may say. But two minutes can turn into 20, and then, studies show; it can take roughly 25 minutes to get back on track again. So do yourself a favour and delete the social apps from your phone and employ software to limit your internet access if you’re working on a major project.
6. Maximize your time.
If you know that you’re the most focused at 2 p.m. instead of 9:30 a.m., work around that and organize your schedule accordingly, and focus on the big stuff when you know that you’ll be at your best.
7. Stay connected with clients and co workers.
Especially if you and your co-workers are scattered across different places, it can be tough to build a rapport and a routine. So set up a time when you can get each other up to speed on what everyone is working on. Similarly ensure that working at home isn’t an excuse not to talk with clients.
8. Stay active.
Part of remote work is flexibility. Why should you be stuck inside to have a sit-down meeting? If you have to give a status update to your supervisor, why not take a walking meeting and chat with them on the phone while you stroll around the block.
9. Eat and drink well.
Be sure to keep a supply of healthy options — fruits and veggies, lean meats and cheeses, and whole grains to keep your energy up. Also its important to stay hydrated.
10. Set time boundaries.
If you’re already at home, it can be easy for your work time to bump up against your leisure time. Make a concerted effort to stay accountable and switch off work notifications so you’re not always on.