Working from home is a funny paradox: On the one hand, yay pajamas! On the other, you can't get any work done being cozy. So what's a professional to do when the siren song of the TV and the bed is just feet away? There are ways to be productive working from home, but they take a lot of discipline and effort from the person involved. Discipline in the fact that you can't just stand up and start baking a lemon tart because you're bored working from the kitchen table, and effort in the way that you have to stay committed to acting like a professional in an office even if your dog is acting super cute by your knee.
It can be hard work at times, but once you get yourself into a set routine, those distractions don't take up as much room in your mind as before. It's like you're back in your cubicle, your mind on the game and tackling your to-do list with gusto. But if you're still having trouble hiding the TV remote from yourself or getting out of your jammies, then I'm here to help. Below are seven tips on how to be productive when working from home.
1. Create A Schedule That Reflects Your Office One
Chances are you didn't linger over breakfast for an hour at the office, and my bet is that you didn't have Downton Abbey nonchalantly playing at your desk. If you want to stay productive at home, structure your schedule very similarily to the one you had at work to keep you focused and powering through your to-do list.
Content Marketing Strategist Ginny Soskey shared with Hubspot, "Are mornings for writing while you're in the office? Use the same schedule at home. While you probably will get tasks done faster at home than at work, this structure will help keep you focused and productive." The similarities will keep you on track and in the same mindset you have being in an office.
2. Dress Up Like You're Going To Work
Shuffling around all day in your pajamas and bedhead will make it so much easier to climb back into bed or turn on the TV like you're indulging in a fake sick day. But if you get up, put on some nice work clothes, and brush your hair like you just might step outside into public, you have a chance to keep it professional.
Graphic designer Anna Faber-Hammond told Hubspot on the matter, "Get fully ready for the day and pretend you're actually going to work. Otherwise, you might find yourself back in bed." It's all about getting yourself into that professional mindset.
3. Train Away Your Naughty Work Habits
I have this thing that if I put up Netflix "just for one second" to destress from a hectic assignment...I'll keep watching up to the point where deadline is in five minutes. I know this is my kryptonite, yet denying myself it is pointless because I'll go ahead and do it anyway (I'm weak.) So instead, I keep tight discipline around my naughty work habits in order not to let them get carried away. In this case, I turned it into a system: Set an alarm on my phone for 10 minutes, and when it rings I close the Netflix tab and get up to make coffee.
Lifestye writer Nick Thacker from Lifehack wrote, "Know what your strengths and weaknesses are with each of these, and start to recognize the cues and habit loops you’re triggering each time you enter this place." In my case, replacing one bad habit with a treat works perf for me.
4. Find A Spot That's Your Office
Whether it's a specific table at your favorite coffee shop, the desk in your room, or a corner at the kitchen table, it's helpful to create an "office" to trigger your mind to get into work mode.
Business writer Kelsey Libert at entrepreneur site Inc offered, "Don't confine your life to an area the size of a mattress. Instead, make sure you've designated space in your home that will serve as your work area." Avoid your bed (let's not mess with siren songs,) don't put yourself in front of the temptation of the TV, and if you could, try to avoid hang-out places in your apartment. It's important to separate play from business to make this work.
5. Put Parameters Around What You Can And Can't Do
Does your friend want to pop in for a quick coffee? Or did you notice your fridge is looking a little empty and you might want to stock it back up? Here's a question for you: Would you do that if you were in an office? If the answer is no, then put those activities outside of your workday boundaries.
Business writer Lisa Evans from Entrepreneur explained, "As much as possible, avoid answering personal phone calls or doing your laundry during the workday. Ask yourself if you would do this activity if you worked in an office. If not, then don’t do it while working at home." Keep focused!
6. Fight Loneliness
When you don't have cubicle mates that you can chat with, working inside your home — no matter how cozy — can make you go a little stir-crazy, and quick. Because of that, schedule some away-from-the-home-office days to get your work done and interact with other humans.
Evans said, "Working from home can get lonely. And when you live and work in the within the same four walls, you can easily get bored of your surroundings." So set up in a cafe, go to a quiet bar, and surround yourself with chatter.
7. And Breathe
While you shouldn't break your workflow to go laze around the couch or fall into a Pinterest black hole, sometimes it's easier to take a break and satisfy your nagging cravings rather than letting them take up space in your mind. Libert supported, "It may seem counterintuitive to take breaks in order to be more productive, but research has shown that the most productive workers focus for 52 minutes, then disengage for 17 minutes."
Giving your mind a rest helps you come back to your work feeling sharper, letting you approach your work in a more jazzed up and excited way.
Keeping these rules in mind, you should be able to be just as productive (if not more) as working from the office!
Images: @lichipan/ Instagram