When I tell people that I work from home, the first question I always get is, "how do you get anything done?" The truth is that I don't really think about working from home in that context, as I've been doing it for so long. However, there are definitely a few productivity-boosting rules to live by if you're working from home and want to avoid procrastination.
1. Schedule a start and stop time. It's so easy to sleep in and avoid work when you are your own boss. However, this usually inhibits your momentum into "work-time." Setting an alarm to wake up and get to work will keep your schedule tight and your brain on track. Who cares if you're working in your pajamas? Same goes for your end time—establishing a "stop" time at 8pm when my computer absolutely must shut down has saved my sanity and my sleep. In the past, (although I may have stopped doing my actual work around 7pm) the emails and social media kept me going until late into the night. When there is no stopping point, there is no peace—establish a stopping point.
2. Turn the TV off. I've mastered the art of ignoring background noise, but I have found that if the TV is on, I'm definitely more distracted. Plus, the constant blather is draining to the subconscious. Best to turn the TV off! I promise there is nothing on during the day, unless you're really into The Wendy Williams Show!
3. Turn some music on. I've found that classical music (the less vocals, the better) really helps to jump-start my creativity and helps me to work faster. Join Spotify or Pandora and turn on a nice, soothing station that gets your mind ready.
4. Remove personal social media alerts from your computer, phone or other device. It's really easy to avoid social media when it's not constantly beeping in your ear, which means more time for productivity! If you've got a habit that just won't quit, consider using a program like Self Control, which will block out your email, Facebook or Twitter for an allotted amount of time. Also, this habit is easy to break. Once you get to used to avoiding distraction online, you will begin to forget about it for a long period of time.
5. Take a lunch break. Do what you would do on a lunch break at a job off-site. Would you sit at your desk, eating a nice lunch looking at celebrity gossip? Then do that. Would you go for a brisk walk and grab a coffee? Then do that. Giving yourself a scheduled lunch break with a bit of leisure time will recharge you and prepare you for getting back to work.
6. Do your errands before or after work. It's so easy to go grocery shopping or to the dry cleaners whenever your heart desires when you work at home—no lines! If you're using these errands as an excuse to avoid a deadline or procrastinate, get your work done first. I am very guilty of this one. In fact, I have cleaned my apartment with a fine-toothed comb to avoid a deadline. Although, after the apartment was clean, I still had to finish the work.
7. Coffee. Enough said.
To those who work from a home office—what are some of your favorite tips for staying productive at home?