Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, particularly amongst the millennials and not to forget the freelancers whose office is their home.
In fact, about 34% of the US workforce – 53 million people are doing freelance work, but work from home can be bad for your productivity if you don’t take the right measures to counteract the distractions and the impediments you face at home. Maybe your kids are playing right next door and you are tempted to join them, or maybe there is a new show on Netflix you are tempted to watch, etc.
So how do you manage to stay productive despite the distractions and do a great job? Here are some tips:
An ergonomic workplace can enhance your productivity at home. The concept of ergonomics is to design a workstation in such a way that it will minimize the physical strain on a person; poor workplace setting can hinder your health and cause fatigue.
For instance, consider working in an uncomfortable chair for hours together as opposed to a comfortable chair with a good backrest, the former will decrease your productivity considerably.
Also, poor ergonomics can lead to frustration, which in turn will affect the quality of your work.
Two points you should keep in mind:
When working out of home, you also have to take care of your meals, do the laundry etc.; there will be times when you’re tempted to alternate between work and household chores. This can be very distracting.
Plan your meals for the whole week ahead of time so that you don’t waste time worrying and planning about every single meal for each day.
Apply the same logic for other household work like laundry, cleaning etc. Plan them in advance and assign slots for these chores, to make sure they don’t interfere with your working hours.
Planning out your day and work smartly is key when working from home. Fresh out of bed early in the morning, you are full of energy and raring to get to work. Use this morning energy to get the difficult and the monotonous tasks done. According to science there are specific times when we are highly productive and it usually depends on the person; knowing when you work best and making the most of it is crucial to have a productive day.
For many of us, once the clock strikes 1 in the afternoon, all you can think of is food and sleep.
Hence, a smarter thing to do so is to keep some action oriented tasks like client calls, video conferencing etc. to help yourself beat the afternoon slumber.
Organizing your day can save a lot of time. Knowing exactly what to do at a given time well ahead can minimize time loss. Also, when you plan ahead, you can strategically plan your work to derive the maximum productivity out of the day.
Keep your workspace and your desktop organized. Knowing where’s what can help you avoid wasting time in searching for things. Also, in a chaotic workspace, you run the risk of losing important documents etc.
There are about a gazillion amazing productivity and time management apps and tools for you to experiment with and take advantage off. Utilize them to maximize your efficiency, make use of time management apps like Finish and task management apps like Evernote, and more.
It not just the apps but also make sure that your hardware is working in tandem with you, For example, use a high processor speed laptop and a typing-friendly keyboard.
If you don’t want your productivity to succumb to distraction, don’t blend your workspace and your personal space even though you are working from home..
I know it’s great to watch something on Youtube while working parallely, or to munch food, or to sit with your child, but it is highly counter-productive. It will decrease your efficiency; you will end up working on a task which could have been finished in an hour, for hours together.
Besides slowing you down, mixing your work and personal space/time will decrease your accuracy. You will tend to make more mistakes such as overlooking a line in the code, which can cost you dearly.
Make your workplace a sacred zone and make sure you don’t do anything except work there. After you are done with your work for the day, step out of your work zone into your fun zone.
At my startup, Hiver, I often encourage my employees to use the Pomodoro technique when working, whether at home or at office. Many of my employees have reported increased productivity and better time management.
It’s a simple enough technique to work with – you work in 25 min chunks and pair them with a 5 min break to relax and stretch and after 4 such cycles, you get to take a longer break. Simple yet powerful.
There are also many other variations of the Pomodoro technique and you can experiment and see what suits you best.
And of course, there are a number of apps that help you integrate these techniques into your lifestyle – a personal favourite of mine is the Pomotodo app.
These tips and tricks only help you to a certain extent. They will not be of much use to you if you fail to exercise self-discipline and self-control.
Productivity cannot be achieved with the click of button or some magic formula, there has to be a conscious effort from your end to make this happen.
Niraj is the founder of Hiver (hiverhq.com), an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a fusion music aficionado, loves to play the guitar when he can.