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Be productive when Working from Home

Working from home sounds great for many people – freedom and focus, sweatpants and daytime television – it’s all great. Working from home a few times a year is very different than working from home on a daily basis. There are some incredible aspects of working from home but there are also numerous downsides. Having spent years in various offices and an equal amount of time working in a home office there are little techniques that you can use to ensure your productivity is optimized.

Identify and limit distractions

When you are working in a quiet, isolated environment you’re able to bypass all the distractions of working in an office environment. This includes the mind-numbing meetings that aren’t applicable or interesting to your actual responsibilities, that guy who pops his head over your cubicle to ask a question about Excel when you’re in the middle of balancing a budget and the inability to make to and from the kitchen without stopping for that quick chat about your weekend with that woman from finance whose name you just can’t remember.

However, for many who work at home there are distractions that are just as tempting, if not worse. Since you’re right there, you may as well load the dishwasher and when that toothpaste in the sink catches your eye you may as well just stop and clean the sink, right? These little distractions can easily pry you away from your work and end up taking over half of your day.

When working an office one of the easiest ways to drown out the distractions is to throw on a pair of headphones and keep your head down. This technique works just as well at home, even you are there alone. Don’t wander around your house or apartment.

Your work space

This is the most important area to focus on when you work from a non-office environment. In an office you typically have an office, cubicle or least a desk. There’s a reason they don’t give you a couch in front a TV to work from in an office. It’s distracting and inefficient. When you’re working from home you need an area that is specified for ‘work’. This doesn’t need to be a separate room, though that is ideal. Clear out a corner and put a desk there with everything that you need within arm’s reach. By confining yourself to this ‘work space’ you’re much less likely to get distracted by the environment around you. Do not sit on the couch with the TV on while you ‘work’.

Treat your work space as you would your cubicle in the office. That is where you belong all day long unless there is a specific reason to leave it. You wouldn’t randomly sit on a couch in the reception area of your office with your laptop perched on your lap so don’t do this in your living room at home.

Leave the ‘office’ when it’s time

Just as important as staying in your work space during the work day is leaving it after work. When the work day is over don’t keep walking back over to your desk or sitting there all evening. You wouldn’t swing by your office cubicle for ‘just a few minutes’ at 10PM so don’t do this in your home. Being able to shut off the work and leave the work space makes it more manageable to stay all there day during your normal works hours. Cutting out the commute already lets you have a larger number of hours available daily for work so take advantage of that and be productive during your work hours.

Keep the office mentality

Many people find it much easier to start the day and focus when they get up and ‘get ready’ as though they were heading into an office, this includes wearing pants. Whether this is your style or not there are benefits to acting as though you’re around people and being watched as though you were in an office. Particularly with today’s online videos and all of the other distractions it’s easy for your focus to slip. Keeping the mindset of thinking your boss may walk by any second can help you stay on track.

Ignore everyone

The biggest problem with working from home is if you are not alone all day. Having kids around is the ultimate distraction as they don’t understand that you’re ‘working’. If at all possible you need to put some sort of physical barrier between you, even if it means creating your workspace in your bedroom. Out of sight is out of mind. When you work from home most of your family, friends or roommates will not comprehend that you are actually working. You’ll get requests to meet up in the middle of the afternoon or they won’t understand why you can’t run an errand for them at 10AM on a Tuesday. You do work from home after all. This can be a delicate balance but you’ve got to stand firm and when you’re ‘at work’ you’re ‘at work’. Treat it as though you are in an official office and you’ll be all set.

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