Working from home is for the most part, a wonderful thing for many people. You don’t have to commute which saves time, money, and the environment! You can eat your own food in your own kitchen (or not worry about a co-worker stealing those tacos you ordered.) For many parents of young children, working from home is a godsend. However, the home office can also feel like a distraction-filled prison without the right attitude and preparation.
The Downsides to Working From Home
Home can be full of distractions: that overflowing laundry basket that needs to be taken care of, the pile of mail you need to sort, a new recipe to try, and cats that need petting. The list goes on. Depending on how chaotic your home is, it can feel even more distracting than the noisiest of huge open office plans. Now, if your residence is owned by you and a business partner, things might be a bit different – but that is not the norm.
Additionally, when you’re at home, you may feel an urge to relax and/or focus on personal and family tasks and priorities instead of work. This is because, after all, it’s the place where you live, eat, and sleep. A more traditional job or business outside the home may present some annoying obstacles like commutes, but an advantage that model has is that it separates your home environment from your work one more pointedly.
While you’re at home, you may also fall prey to the kind of distractions you used to get yelled at for in an office like being on your Pinterest board or other social media, making personal calls, and putting things off to the last minute as a result.
How to Be More Productive Working at Home
Prioritize your tasks by deadline and/or urgency. Sometimes, your personal needs will need to take a higher priority if you can only finish these tasks during business hours or in a limited timeframe. Take advantage of not having to go to an office and just get them done so you can focus on work after.
Try to make a separate area in your home just for work. This is harder to do when you don’t have much space in your home, but if you can you should make a separate area for work to avoid that temptation to have work leak into your personal life just because you’re at home.
Let others know that just because you’re home, it doesn’t mean you’re available. This includes yourself. It can be tempting to jump on that text your friend sent or get sucked into social media, if you don’t have family members or friends wondering if you’re free to do that thing for them “because you’re home”.
You’re home. But you’re not available. So don’t answer that text unless it’s an absolute emergency, and use apps like AntiSocial and Cold Turkey to lock yourself out of social media, games, and other digital distractions while you tell the real-life ones you’re not their gopher.
You can make working from home work for you, whether you telecommute, freelance, or have a home-based business. By establishing firm boundaries and keeping digital and physical distractions to a minimum, you can develop greater self-discipline and get the most out of working at home. Don’t forget to leave wiggle room for real life, but remember to separate work from fun time.