5 Useful Tips on How to Be More Productive in Your Home Office
When you first pictured having a home office, think about what you envisioned.
Did you imagine lots of hanging out in your pajamas, reclining backward with your feet on the desk?
In reality, you’ve likely noticed that it’s quite different from what you anticipated.
While millions of people around the world probably covet your ability to work from your home office, there are drawbacks.
If you aren’t careful, your home can be full of distractions and stresses. This type of work requires strict boundary setting to be successful.
Ready to make working from home the dream job it’s supposed to be?
Use these five tips to increase your productivity and decrease your stress. Bonus — you’ll be happier too!
1. Keep to a Routine
Working from home usually means that you get to be a little more lenient in your routine than if you were working at an office.
Of course, this depends on your job and its demands. But in general, those who work from home offices have more freedom to decide what they’ll do with their time.
You could use this flexible schedule to neglect important parts of daily life, like your hygiene. It’s more crucial than ever to keep to your regular routine of personal care and get dressed every day.
When you neglect yourself physically, it affects you mentally. How you dress affects your attitude. If you let yourself work without taking care of your appearance, it negatively impacts your productivity.
Get up in the morning a little early, so you don’t have to go straight to the office. Use those extra few minutes to clean up and dress presentably.
If you enjoy meditation, exercise, or inhaling your coffee scent on the back porch, give yourself time to do those things, as well.
Find a routine that works for you. Don’t rush, but don’t slack either.
2. Create a Dedicated Home Office
Social media can be a pleasant distraction or part of your business. Be careful, though.
As you scroll through your feed, you’ll see people posting pictures as they work from the beach or another scenic panorama. And you’ll likely start to wonder why your home office isn’t as majestic.
When you can work from “anywhere,” it’s tempting to work from “everywhere.” But this constant movement leaves us scattered and distracted.
Even moving your work from the office to the living room disconcerts your brain. Now you have distractions that weren’t there before, and it’s harder to focus.
Instead, create a home office area that is clutter-free and only used as a workspace.
Surround yourself with an atmosphere that helps you to be productive. This might be visual depictions of your goals, or it could be a sparse, clean desk, and room.
To keep yourself on track every morning and start the day on the right foot, take some time at the end of the day to clean. Clear your desk from trash, notes, and work that has accumulated.
Before you walk away from your office, think about what you’ve accomplished and what you need to do the next day.
Tip: Keep a notepad in front of your computer screen with reminders and a projected schedule, so your morning starts off with momentum.
3. Stay in Touch with Reality
Working from home means that at least once a week — you forget what day it is. The days can blur together if all you do is work, eat, clean, and sleep.
Messing up the days of the week is funny sometimes, but other times it can cause you to miss deadlines.
If your days always repeat, it’s extra important to stay in touch with time. Keep your calendar updated regularly and check it every day.
It’s also helpful to include activities that make certain days stand out. You don’t have to do something fun every day, although that is fine as long as your work is getting done.
Once a week, at a minimum, try to make plans for social engagements, like lunch with a friend.
If you can plan your “days out” to be the same day and time each week, it makes your schedule easier to plan and gives you something to look forward to regularly.
This, in turn, helps you to keep in touch with the passing days.
4. Practice Healthy Habits
If no one is looking over your shoulder, it’s easy to slip and listen to the little devil on the left that prods you to play around.
One minute scrolling through social media usually turns into half an hour before you realize you got caught in the black hole. This is a bad habit you have to nip in the bud — particularly when you work from home.
Knocking out bad habits is one thing; engaging in good practices is another.
Practicing healthy living is hard enough when you have time on your hands. But it’s a necessity you need to add in your day, especially if your work consists of sitting in front of a computer screen working from home.
Exercise is one of the first things to fall by the wayside when you sit at your desk all day. Set a timer for every hour to remind you to get up, stretch, and take a few minutes to increase your circulation.
Healthy meals also take a backseat. You can find yourself so caught up in getting the job done that you forget to prepare a decent meal.
This unhealthy lifestyle will quickly catch up to you. When it does, it will reduce your happiness and productivity.
5. Set Boundaries
You’ve probably noticed that your friends and family equate your “working from home” job with “can drop everything when needed.”
Don’t let that offend you. This is a common issue with people who work from home.
But don’t let it slide, either.
The reason for your loved ones’ and coworkers’ confusion is possibly that you haven’t given them your schedule yet.
Think about it. If you work from an office, they know that from this time to that time, you’re unavailable. Now that you’re working from home, they don’t know your routine, so you’re always available — until you tell them otherwise.
If you don’t set boundaries early and stick to them, your productivity will end up taking the hit. Decide what your working hours will be and then make sure everyone knows when you’re not available.
As you create your daily schedule, leave some free time for errands or returning phone calls. Let your family and friends know when these open spaces are and encourage them to use those time blocks to contact you.
Those of us who get to work from home have everyone’s dream job flexibility. That same freedom can turn the dream into a nightmare, though.
You have terrific perks and an environment that you created.
Keep these five tips in mind as you enter into each day so that you can be happy and productive. Use them to benefit you as best as possible!
About the Author
Caitlin Sinclair, Business Manager of THEO, has been with Alliance Residential Company for over five years. She has extensive experience with a variety of properties, from large lease-ups to smaller, more urban assets.