As more and more people start working from home, whether by telecommuting or freelancing, it's not uncommon for work days to stretch out into your free time. Thus, working from home can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your work ethic and how to strategize your work hours. Since the internet can either aid or distract productivity, it can be difficult to find a middle ground to get stuff done while you're at home. Here are some of the ways we've found to help in keeping motivated and focused while working from home...
1. Stop Multitasking: It's a known fact that multitasking doesn't produce as good results as when you concentrate on a single task. Intensive tasks like designing, programming, writing, and others where you need to concentrate fully on one task will easily show you that you best stay away from multitasking. There are some people who are able to multitask well, but most of us don't. To implement this, you could switch to another browser to do your work, if you need to use the Internet for your work.
2. Ditch Social Networking: Keeping an open Twitter or Facebook tab might be something that you've gotten used to when you're at home, but when you work, it's best to switch social networking off. They'll start eating into your work time, and before you know it, you'll finish working at 10PM instead of 6PM.
3. Using "Work" Software: Depending on which field you work in, you might actually have to use specialized software, or programs that you don't usually use at home. Make sure that you use those and close the browser windows to allow you to concentrate. If you don't need to be online, you can log off.
4. Using "Work" Computers: Some employers supply laptops to their employees, so that they can get some work done. These are usually loaded up with everything you need to get your work completed quickly. Stick with using this computer to finish working quicker.
5. Switch Off Your Personal Phone: When you work in an office, you aren't really allowed to talk much on the phone. Sure, each employer is different, but we've always kept our personal phone conversations at a minimum. You should do the same when you work from home. Switching off your cell phone might seem drastic, but it will stop you from texting and messaging your friends while you're supposed to be working. If your employer supplies a cell phone for work purposes, keep that one on.
6. Let Family Know that You're Working: It's important that your family knows what's happening, especially if you already spend quite a bit of time in front of the computer. This can be challenging with young kids around, but sticking to some basic common sense will make you more efficient.
7. Keeping Distractions at a Minimum: Whether you tend to compulsively check your Facebook feeds or Google everything that crosses your mind, it's important to keep away from distractions when you want to work from home. It can be quite hard, depending on your home situation, but you'll probably have to stick some rules and guidelines to finish work at a reasonable time.
8. Alternate Workstations: If you get bored being alone in your place then you can easily find some other workstations to make work better. A coffee shop, a library, a nearby college or university campus, all of these will provide interesting opportunities to get a change of scenery while you're still able to work.
9. Set Small Attainable Goals: If you are working on a big project, it's best to set small, attainable goals so that you can motivate yourself by completing them. It's easy to get discouraged or to be overwhelmed if the project is somewhat complex. Don't be afraid to ask help from colleagues, friends, and other professionals.
10. Dress Up: Technically speaking, you could work in your PJs when you work from home, but we've found that it's actually more conducive to an efficient work day if we take a shower in the morning, and dress. Some people find that dressing up will work even better. We tend to stay in jeans and t-shirts. It can also give you a clear indication when you start working. For example, like most people, you probably check your computer while you drink your coffee. Once you've completed this task, step into the shower, make more coffee, and dress so that you are under the impression that you are leaving for work. A good indication on what's appropriate is whether you'd have to change if you have to run an errand or meet some colleagues for a quick meeting. It works pretty well.
(Images: NY Daily News, Range, Flickr user Cseeman via CC license, Flickr user Stig Andersen via CC License, Flickr user Anyul Rivas via CC License, Flickr user Cayusa via CC License, Flickr user Mikel Manitus vis CC License, Flickr user Sean Dreilinger vis CC License)