Working from home gives you a lot of freedom and control over your schedule, but sometimes it can be difficult to stay on task. When you’re the boss, it’s up to you to stay focused and commit to a daily to-do list if you want to meet your daily or weekly goals. Being productive when working from home (and working on projects using Toad Diaries) is easier said than done, especially if you have household distractions such as kids, pets or surprise guests to handle throughout your busy workday. Here are just eleven ways to take command of your schedule and boost your productivity:
1. Create a plan the night before. If you find it difficult to get focused in the morning, plan out at least the first half of the next day the night before. This will give you a chance to visualize what the next day will look like, so you can wake up and get going without too much effort.
2. Make appointments for projects. Being conscientious about time can help you stay on track and get things done. Make an appointment with yourself for different projects so you can push through your task list easily.
3. Eat a solid breakfast. It’s incredibly difficult to focus and concentrate when you’re hungry, so make sure you’re eating properly so that food isn’t in the back of your mind when you have work to do. When you work from home, it’s easy to skip meals and just snack on whatever’s available. Create a structured meal plan instead so you’re chugging along at a steady pace throughout the day.
4. Do your least favorite tasks during your most productive time. Are you more creative and focused during the mid-morning, early afternoon or closer to the end of the day? Schedule your least favorite task during your ‘prime time’ so you’re not too tired or stressed to tackle the major project.
5. Schedule time for time wasters. Working from home means there’s no boss to look over your shoulder or track your time spent on Twitter, Facebook and other networking sites. However, having open access to these sites can suck up your time, fast. Schedule just thirty minutes to an hour of ‘play time’ into your day so you can still get your fix, but do it in a more structured manner.
6. Check your e-mail two or three times per day. Unless you’re using your e-mail client as an instant messaging tool, checking your e-mail only two or three times per day can boost your productivity. Checking e-mails constantly can make it very difficult to focus on a task at hand, especially if you feel the need to reply to everyone.
7. Create a master list, and a daily to-do list. Your master list will be a ‘bigger picture’ type list that gives you some direction for the day. Your daily ‘to-do’ list will be your task list for any given day, and supports the master list. Get into the habit of creating these and sticking with them to reduce feelings of overwhelm, and give your productivity level a boost.
8. Wear headphones to drown out noise. If you have kids or pets in the house, consider wearing headphones so you’re not distracted by the noise. Some people become immune to the constant noise in the background, but if you’re not one of them, think of ways to eliminate the extra noise so that you can focus.
9. Eat meals away from your desk. When you work from home, your desk and home office can become your entire nucleus of activity for the day. Take a real break by eating your meals away from your desk, preferably in a different room, or even outside if the weather’s nice. The change of scenery can boost your productivity and replenish your energy levels.
10. Create a work routine. Working from home means you don’t have the routine of preparing clothes specifically for work, driving to the office, or listening to the radio during your commute. These simple activities can become a part of the ‘normal’ workday routine that prepares you for the day. Since these steps are eliminated, you might benefit from creating a different routine for yourself such as watching the news for a few minutes, preparing coffee or breakfast, and then settling into your workstation. Make a conscious ‘disconnect’ from your home to the office space to give your productivity a boost.
11. Break up your work day into segments. Unless you’re working as a telecommuting employee that needs to be logged in somewhere from 9-5, make the most of your flexible schedule by breaking up your workday into chunks. Chunking your time into two or three hour blocks can actually help you become more productive.
Working from home offers numerous benefits, but one of the biggest challenges is staying focused and productive for long periods of time. Use these eleven strategies to boost your productivity and maximize your workday when you work from home.