Technology has increased the number of jobs which can be carried out remotely. Employers can save on office space and other amenities which are made necessary by the presence of a full-time staff while the employees themselves (contractors is a more accurate term) have far more flexibility in their work life. Unfortunately while many may welcome freedom from the pressures of the work environment (and superiors breathing down their necks), actual productivity is still needed.
Depending on your own self-discipline and home environment, you may encounter varying levels of difficulty in integrating your home and business life. While the ability to work from home has long been cited as one of the hallmarks of a modern technological utopia, the truth is that many consider the ability to commute to work, a welcome way of temporarily escaping their home life which tends to have its own set of demanding responsibilities.
Set aside long periods of time for work
One of the most commonly cited advantages of working from homing i.e the ability to set your own hours can quickly work against you. You have to realise that even when you are working from home, the number of hours in a day is still limited, this means that this celebrated ability to manage your own time makes it possible to inadvertently mix-up your work and personal time.
If you want to keep yourself as productive as possible and reduce the possibility of work interfering with your personal life, set aside long stretches of uninterrupted work time every day. You should be very strict and be very clear about your inability to entertain idle visits during this time. Do your best to avoid being drawn into normal home life during your time of work. If possible try to emulate a normal worker’s office hours. This means starting work early in the morning to avoid being forced to work late into the evening.
Set aside a work station or an office
Even when you are working from home you still have to do your best to create a conducive environment. This may mean setting aside a separate room in your house as an office or when this is not possible, a suitably located work station. By suitably located I mean somewhere where you are less likely to be disturbed by the rest of your family members. I once heard from one of my former lecturers that there is such a thing as an ‘inspiring’ work environment so you can also keep this in mind as you choose your place of work.
Though you may not have noticed this before, your house is full of nothing but distractions which can be managed not only through very strict enforcement of your chosen work hours to everyone around you but also copious amounts of self-discipline. Limit your breaks to planned ones as unscheduled ones can quickly spiral out of control resulting in you finding yourself doing something completely different.
You also have to work away from disturbances like television. If distracting noise is inevitable you can invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. You should limit the checking of your social media accounts to breaks. Most of these applications were designed to be highly addictive and can easily derail your otherwise meticulously planned day. Communicate your schedule with any people you may be living with and ask that it be respected.
Plan your day
It is important that you at least create a to-do list before the start of your day. This allows you to schedule and cross off tasks as you complete them and thus keep track of your progress (or lack of). Planning your day is especially important if you cannot completely isolate yourself from domestic responsibilities. By planning for these, you can reduce their impact on your productivity.
Planning your day and allocating time to all your activities also allows you to keep track of which ones are gobbling up your time and the failure or ability to adhere to your preplanned schedule will give you a more realistic idea of how much work you can actually complete in a day.
Create a reward system
Human beings are different from machines. In order to do work and be at their most productive, they need motivation. In a conventional work environment, your superiors’ watchful (and sometimes disapproving) eyes are usually enough. At home, you have to keep your self motivated and stave off any mental fatigue that may try to creep in.
The thought of a looming endless workload may make you feel tired before you even start, that is why you must break down your work into smaller chunks and promise yourself rewards after each one of those is completed. This reward can be as simple as a break or a walk but these must be short so that they do not throw your whole day into disarray.
As you can see working from home takes discipline, but if you follow the above tips it should be easier. The key is to avoid letting work encroach on your life or even worse your sleep.