Being a design student, I spend a lot of my time working on my computer or sitting at my drafting table. I have always loved the convenience of working at home and use my second bedroom as a home office. As much as I love having a home office, I often wonder if it is better for me to work at school. Working from home is always appealing, but is it really the most productive?
I am certain I am not alone in being distracted at home; therefore, I came up with a list of home productivity rules. Whether you work at home full-time or just occasionally, the same rules apply.
- Set a daily work schedule. On a typical day, I get up at 8:00am and work until 6:00pm. It is easy to sleep in and work late when there is no one giving you a set time. Give yourself breaks throughout the day and take time to have lunch.
- Write a list of tasks for the day the night before. I always keep a running to-do list, but also keep a list for what I would like to accomplish in a particular day. It helps me stay on track and focused.
- Purchase and maintain office supplies. Treat your home office as a business, in a business it is important to be efficient and have all the materials and supplies in stock. Have you ever run out of ink for your printer, then have to take extra time to run to the store to buy more ink? It is not only very frustrating, but also very inefficient.
- Turn off the TV. This is a big rule for me. I am sure some will disagree, but having the TV on can be very distracting. You may turn it on just for background noise and later find yourself losing 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there from being enthralled in a program. Listening to music is a better option.
- Get dressed in the morning. This seems very silly to say especially because I love staying in my pajamas, but there is a psychological reaction to taking a shower and getting dressed in the morning. What you wear also has an impact on your mood and how you feel. If you want to have fun with it, dress up in business casual attire to work from home. I would be curious to find out if it results in more productivity.
- Close the door. If you have a family or live with others, it can be very hard to get work done when you are interrupted. This is especially difficult if you have small children at home. If you are sharing work and mommy time, then try involving your older children in the work by giving them fun small tasks. Also, you could have them working on one of their projects simultaneously while you work on your project.
- Arrange time for phone calls/meetings. As many know, taking meetings or phone calls can eat up a lot of work time. Schedule and limit the time for both phone calls and meetings. I like to set a block of time in the morning to get in all my necessary phone calls.
- Limit leisure internet browsing. I must admit I am addicted to spending hours looking for design inspiration or doing other research on the internet. Although I always tell myself it is work related, it is important to concentrate on the day's tasks.
- Prioritize your tasks. Even though it is more attractive to tackle the simpler tasks, never leave an important task or job unattended while you focus on something less important. At the end of the day, you will feel much better knowing all the major work has been completed.
Where are you most productive in your home - living room, bedroom, or office? Do you find it challenging to work at home? If you have other great productivity suggestions, I would love to incorporate them.
(Images: West Elm)