As entrepreneurs we love to dabble in the freedom of ‘working from anywhere’! Choosing new locations gives you a daily dose of a certain kind of creative inspiration. Each new spot, co-working space, or coffee shop brings with it new opportunities to connect with others and share ideas. Here you are constantly inspired and motivated to work harder as you see the progress that those around you are making. Productivity is high when it counts most, and there are enough opportunities to take all those much-needed breaks.
Often times this location also includes that one and only ‘home office’. Unlike the productive work environment of being surrounded by others, working from home can sometimes bring with it it’s own challenges. We become too comfortable with where we are, and new inspiration and influence can be lacking.
Working from home comes with so many benefits – greater flexibility in work hours, decision-making autonomy, and the best of all… a commute of less than 15 seconds! But these benefits come with some important responsibilities. There is no one who is going to tell you when to work or push you to meet your deadlines – it’s all up to you! Now, this works great for many people (especially those who have amazing self-discipline), but some need a little extra guidance to stay focused and get the work done.
Along with flexibility there is new found ‘freedom’ that can sometimes look inviting, especially to friends and family. And what’s more, there are all those house duties that need to get done, that can sometimes be great procrastination excuses!
So how do you keep yourself from being distracted by all those ‘domestic duties’? How do you deal with that friend who drops by unannounced during your working time? Here are 14 great tips I use to get the most out of my “home-office” work day.
1. HAVE A DISTINCT WORKSPACE
We so often read about the need to have a specific workspace sectioned off just for work. This is very sound advice, but what I’ve found is that it also comes down to personal preference! For me, I love to have a desk area to work, put all my office needs, and really get in the zone. Having a distinct place really helps you compartmentalize so you can walk away from your work when your day is done. However, some days I need a little bit of variety to avoid the repetitiveness of one space, all day, every day… Isn’t this why you chose the ‘work-from-home’ lifestyle in the first place?
So first off, I do love to set up my home office space and fill it with things that make me happy while also making sure that I have everything I need to get my work done efficiently and effectively. This is everything including my laptop, chargers, pens, sticky notes, notebooks, iPad, stapler, printer, and whatever else you use on a daily basis. When you have everything you need and you’ve really taken the time to invest in your work space and make it your own, then your mind is at ease and you can start to focus on what really matters.
Another great tip is to ensure that your space provides you with some natural lighting. It is so beneficial to your mood and energy levels if you get a bit of sunlight shining in on your work area. I live for this and it really keeps me fuelled all day long! You can also go ahead and add a bit of greenery to your work area. This is a great way to liven up your office and adds to your ‘Sunny-Day’ mood. Don’t forget to create a productive atmosphere, such as some stimulating background music. Now, this really depends on personal preference again – some people prefer music without lyrics, while others work better when the music is playing through their headphones. Try out some different settings to see what works best for you.
So back to what I said before about adding some variety – I really try to make a point of having at least two other spots to work at within the home. For example, some days I enjoy the breakfast nook because it gets great sunlight in the mornings, I can get right into working straight after breakfast, and it still provides a quiet area away from the rest of the house. Another great place I love to use is outside on the porch. On a day when the weather is amazing I hate to waste it by spending all of my time indoors. This way I get to enjoy the day while still having a productive workday. These alternate spots can really give you the variety you’re craving, and usually work best when the house is quite for the day. Don’t forget that you can always move back to your primary office space if or when you find that your productivity is lagging.
2. DRESS FOR SUCCESS
This is big ‘must-do’ for me and especially for us as women! Getting ready and dressed up for the day has a significant impact on not only your productivity, but your motivation as well. It allows you to fully wake-up (if you’re a slow riser like me), and creates a mindset that you are ready for the days work and determined to get the most out of your time. Now whether you do a full shower routine or not really depends on you. I find that showering and getting dressed first thing helps me to feel prepared for anything to come – especially impromptu meetings and the like. However, some days my schedule my vary and I know that I will be heading to the gym a bit later in the morning, so I get suited up in my gym outfit instead. Surprisingly, this makes me feel even more motivated and ready to take on the day!
Another part of getting dressed that we often miss is that it is also a great indicator to your friends and family that you are in fact working. Your dressed appearance helps to enforce the boundaries that need to be respected in order for you to successfully complete your work for the day. This is a great reminder to your family, especially in the beginning phases, and really helps to get you into your routine. One other part of getting dressed that I find extremely important for a productive day is how it makes you feel about yourself. Getting dolled up and ready to go boosts your confidence, preparing you to attack the day with enthusiasm! This helps to sky rocket your productivity even more and energizes you to face the day head-on. Feeling confidence is such an amazing asset to your overall performance during the day, and that why dressing for success is not something I would easily pass up!
3. KEEP YOUR WORK SPACE ORGANIZED
As we’ve discussed in the first point, it is important to have everything you need at your designated work space. This allows fewer interruptions and enables you to flow smoothly through your work process. It is surprising to see how much time each interruption takes out of your day, so minimizing these can help not only conserve your time but also increases overall productivity. Staying organized (no matter how neat and tidy you are) always has a positive effect on your productivity. Knowing exactly where everything is placed cuts down on the time spent ‘searching’ for things or trying to remember where you wrote that one very important note! De-cluttering also helps put your mind at ease because you are not constantly thinking about your surroundings, leaving your mind free to focus on what is really important.
Another part of this includes having all of the necessary equipment that you need in order to work effectively and efficiently. This may even include things like having the right kind of office chair for lower-back support or any other need you may have. Setting yourself up for success starts by ensuring that you are completely taken care of. This also prevents future hindrances by ensuring that you don’t end up with some type of ‘office injury’ because you neglected to care for your body. So as I mentioned before, take the time and resources to really invest in your office space because it will save you from those pesky headaches in the future.
Finally, keeping your area clean and organized is an ideal way to maintain your company appearance. If you use your home-office space to meet with clients or potential buyers then it is key to receive them in an area that is clean and comfortable. This not only helps your overall company appearance but improves the customer experience as well. So if you’re not doing it for yourself, be sure to create a positive atmosphere for your clients as well!
4. UNDERSTAND YOUR PRODUCTIVITY TIMES
Now this is a big part of improving your productivity when working from home. Since working a regular 9 to 5 job doesn’t often allow for time flexibility we aren’t always aware of when exactly we are most productive (as an individual). So I suggest taking a few days to experiment with different work times in order to find when you are most productive. This is one of the most individualized criteria of improving productivity and is also one of the most important to establish. Sometimes however, in order to meet client needs you have to be available during certain hours – so do not neglect their needs when making this decision. If you notice that productivity is not very high during these times, you may need to train yourself or establish a routine to help you get into the swing of things.
An important thing to remember is that this is also an ideal way to establish if perhaps a split work day would work best for you. Maybe you need to work around your family needs, or perhaps you work best when breaking solid work hours up into sections. This is a great way to establish some key times of productivity and balancing them with times of relaxation. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of options, but be sure to make your decision to avoid creating too many options for yourself in the end.
5. SET BOUNDARIES
This is something that can be seen as a “catch-22”. Family and friends can often times be mislead by your ‘at-home’ presence, leading them to assume that you have all the time in the world to get your work done and that it won’t matter if they interrupt you (even when you are in your designated office space). This can become a tricky situation and should be one of the very first things to tick off of your office set-up to-do list! Once they understand that you are serious about your work-hours they will respect your space and allow you to get the most out of your day.
One key thing to remember is that if you expect friends and family to respect your work hours, then you need to respect them as well! Don’t be lenient with your hours in front of others because then they will assume that it is okay for them as well. This is definitely not the message you want to send, so be strict and pay careful attention to how you handle yourself, especially during the initial phases of your home-office setup. It may seem somewhat of an extreme approach at first, but soon it will become the ‘norm’ and everyone will be respectful of your office hours. So don’t worry – it will all work out great!
6. OUTLINE SPECIFIC WORK TIMES AND GOALS
So how can you actually see if your productivity is high? And how will you know if you have been successful with establishing your home office? This is where you need to set specific work times for your projects and outline goals you’d like to achieve. In this way you can track your progress and visually understand just how much time you need to put into a specific project in order to get it done. If you haven’t put in the hours, then you will see the results in your progress.
Again, these specific work times will also allow your friends and family to become used to the times when they know you are fully focused and need to be left uninterrupted. This helps both you and them to form habits around when it’s appropriate to enter your workspace, without having to spend your time and energy trying to get re-focused after each interruption. When habits are started early, they become engrained in our daily routine, and will give you a much larger effective productivity time overall.
Another benefit to these clear times and goals is that you can empower your family to support you in your journey towards reaching your goals. When they know what stage you are on in accomplishing your milestones they can lend the extra support by helping out around the house and giving you the extra time you need ‘at work’. This is a very effective way for you to stay on track towards reaching each step of your goal journey.
7. PRETEND YOU’RE NOT HOME
This may sound a bit funny, but it is definitely a sure-fire way to ensure that you do in fact get your work done for the day. If there are unannounced guests who drop by in the middle of your most productive work-hours then this is a great way to continue without sacrificing any extra time. Every time you allow for an interruption to take place, it not only takes away precious work-time but also imposes extra time needed to get back into your optimal ‘work-mode’. These transition costs can really add up to make a significant different in your overall work time and productivity.
Although this may seem like the ‘easy way out’ option, it is a much more a strategic decision to enable you to appropriately allocate your time and energy to things that are most important in your work day. This is similar to ‘choosing your battles’ as it it much more effective to remain in your productive space and follow up with other later than it is to explain yourself each time. Again, this also helps your own family to create an understanding that you are currently ‘at work’ and that it is similar to being away from home.
This is a great mindset tool to help you remain focused on your work, rather than becoming distracted by the duties of the home. Although working from home gives you the flexibility to do both, the mindset of being away from home during your most productive work hours can really empower you to get the most out of your precious hours.
I hope you found these first 7 rules enlightening and inspiring. Stay tuned next week for Part II of the 14 Golden Rules.
Now over to YOU!
- Did you find these helpful? How have you incoporated them into your work day?
- Love these first 7 Rules? Share them now on social media with others who would benefit!
- Want more great business advice straight to your inbox? Sign up for the VIP list below!
As always, desire to inspire!
Featured Image: Shutterstock