Get productive – even in your pyjamas.
Whether you’re self-employed and haven’t started renting your own office spaces yet, working on your Ph.D., taking care of your sick your kid or that’s just your regular Friday – there are many reasons for why, occasionally or regularly, we all need to be able to work from home.
In my case, the average weekday contains lots of cosultant-client interaction, meetings and workshops. In my office base in Zurich, I work in a modern, open space – which I love, but whenever I need to write a review or create a presentation from scratch, I just need to shut out any noise. Then again on some days, I simply need to be at home waiting for the electrician to come by.
Concentrating on my work and getting things done from home has never really been a problem of mine – I never went to the library to study when I was in university. Instead, I’d meet up with a girlfriend at my place or hers, we’d grab a cup of coffee and work until lunchbreak. Mostly in our jogging pants. It’s not that I want to be entirely alone, I just don’t want too many distractions.
Lots of people, however, complain that they can’t be productive at home and/or that their bosses don’t want them working from home because they can’t check whether they are actually working. So why is that?!
Well, in terms of your boss trusting you – if it’s a personal trust issue thing, that’s another story (a.k.a. – get a new boss). If, however, he or she has simply had some bad experiences with employees covering up a day-off as a home office day, you might want to try proving how respondent you are even on a day working from home, and by showing some great output from that day.
But what if you just can’t concentrate when you’re near your fridge, near Netflix, near that pile of laundry?
Procrastination can get to the best of us. Here’s what I do to prevent it:
1.) SET UP A CLEAN SPACE
Whether you’re going to work at the kitchen table, a home desk or on the couch – make sure it’s cleaned up and you have everything you need. That includes your laptop, notebook, smartphone and a coffee. Fine, maybe a scented candle if you feel like it. But perhaps not so much your entire snack drawer, private laptop, TV, shopping list, fashion magazines and the latest DIY project you’re working on.
If following this rule means investing 3o minutes for cleaning up at the beginning of your day – go right ahead. It’ll be worth it later on.
2.) SCHEDULE YOUR DAY
Write down two lists of things you want to get done by the evening – one list for work deliverables, one list for personal to-do’s that you want to get done in-between. This way, you are more likely to keep up the pace and use break times well. By the time you’ve checked everything off the list, you’ll feel like you’e accomplished a lot and deserve your evening off. And who knows, maybe you’ll be done faster than expected!
3.) SET A TIMER FOR BREAKS
While you shouldn’t get distracted by food and to-do’s, you can take breaks and use those for things such as laundry or private phone calls. After all, working from home can and should help you align your professional and personal duties. To maximize productivity, set a timer and stay focused for 1.5 hours at a time. Then, take a 15 minute break and repeat. During your lunch break, get out and get moving! Walk the dog, go grocery shopping, take a yoga class – anything to really refresh your mind.
4.) PUT YOUR (PRIVATE) PHONE ON SILENT
When no one’s there to listen, it’s just too easy to pick up the phone when mom calls. For people like me using only one phone for personal and business purposes, it can be quite challenging to be reachable all day long but not look at any private messages (dear Apple, still waiting for an automatic important-unimportant filter there). When I’m trying to focus, I still just switch my phone on silent. You can always let your team know to reach you by email.
5.) ENJOY THE SILENCE – OR PUT ON SOME MUSIC
Confession – back when I was in high school, studying for my maths exam, I would listen to the Harry Potter audio books on repeat (don’t judge). I was able to concentrate so well! Depending on what the task is, it can be helpful to finish it in full silence. In other cases, especially when more numerical skills are involved, I still feel that I can be more productive with some instrumental music (check out Spotify’s “Peaceful Piano” or “Reading Soundtrack” playlists). Especially when you’re doing something rather repetitive or boring, something that doesn’t fill up your brain capacity, your mind will eventually wander off. Giving it something to focus on besides work can ensure you don’t get fully distracted by something else – at least it works for me.
Well, there you have it! Those are my little tricks to ensure I can fulfill my deliverables even when working remotely. If you have anything to add – leave me a comment down below. Thanks for reading!