I lie in bed staring blankly at my laptop screen. Drool seeps out the crack of my lips, trickling down the side of my face. Groggily, I wipe it off with the back of my hand. My bedroom is pitch black except for the bright light emitting from my computer. I look at the time on the top right corner of my screen. 10:34am. “Shit,” I thought “I was supposed to be working from home. I was supposed to be productive…”
Working From Home: You Either Love It or Hate It
Everyone I have asked either seems to love or hate working from home. The people who love it enjoy the freedom that comes with working unsupervised. The people who hate it find it hard to be productive outside of an office environment.
Much of this stems from how we think about the office and the home. We associate an office with getting work done. It’s a place for hard work and productivity.
On the other hand, we think of home as a place where we can relax and be comfortable, away from the stresses of life.
The Structured and Productive Office Work Day
When you have a 9-to-5 office job, your day looks something like this:
- Wake up
- Get ready
- Come home
In a work day, you have a schedule in which you leave designated blocks of time for certain tasks. This makes it easy for you to focus on one thing at a time. You are also supervised and monitored when working in an office, which prevents distractions and multitasking.
These two things make it easier for you to focus on doing work and being productive when you are in an office.
The Potential Benefits of Working From Home
But if you think about it, none of these benefits are specific to working in an office. You can maintain a schedule even if you’re working from home. And there are ways for you to remove distractions.
Working from home allows you to remove commuting, saving a few hours every day. If you are able to be as productive working from home as you are from an office, the benefits are obvious.
Before we get into those, let’s look at a typical work-from-home day.
The Amorphous and Unstructured Work From Home Day
On the other hand, a work-from-home day is unstructured. It can include watching TV, cooking, doing laundry, or playing video games.
As long as you finish your work, you can do whatever you want.
Naturally, this leads to multitasking and bad choices.
The lack of structure and supervision leads to unproductive behavior. In order to have the same productivity level at home as in an office, we need to find a way to treat working from home the same way as working in an office. To do that, we’ll need to change our mindset.
The Solution is to Develop a Strong Personal Routine
To change this mindset, we need to treat working from home the same way we would treat working in an office. In order to do this, we need to keep a personal routine or schedule.You need to treat working from home the same way you would treat working in an office. Click To Tweet
When you take the 9-5 out of the equation, you no longer have a routine. There’s no need to wake up or to be somewhere at a certain time.
The freedom and flexibility will sound great at first, but not having your own schedule will cause you to live a reactive lifestyle. This means that you base your actions on whatever is going on that particular day. This encourages you to be lazy and put things off until the last minute.
If you don’t have anything to do in the morning, you’ll sleep in until the afternoon. If you get caught up in a TV show, you’ll stay up all night.
When you work from home, it’s important to manage yourself and your time effectively. And it’s all up to you.
The 3 Tips to Boost Work From Home Productivity
The 3 tips that I would recommend are the following:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule
- Shower after waking up and dress as if you were going to work.
- Structure your day into blocks.
- *Bonus Tip: Avoid multitasking by blocking out distractions.
1. Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule
The time you wake up and the time you go to bed are key when it comes to productivity and keeping a schedule. Having a consistent sleep schedule will give you a good amount of rest so that you have the energy to carry out the next day’s tasks.
More importantly, it allows you to schedule and plan out your day since you have a defined starting and end time. This sounds very basic but it’s incredibly powerful.
2. Shower and Dress for the Office
This is my favorite tip. Whenever I stay home and work in pajamas, I feel lethargic and just want to get back into bed.
To get rid of the cobwebs, I make sure to shower, make my bed, and get dressed every day before I start to work. – even if I’m working at home. By doing so, I get myself in the right state of mind to confront the work day head-on.
We’ve gone through the motions countless times. From going to school as children to working at our jobs, we have conditioned ourselves to being more productive when we treat our day like a 9-to-5.
Prepare to work from home the same way you would prepare to going into the office by showering and getting dressed. Click To Tweet
To get ourselves into a productive mindset, we just have to prepare to work from home the same way we would prepare to going into the office.
3. Partition Your Day Into Blocks
The 9-to-5 is successful because it forces you to commit a certain amount of time for work. To be successful working from home, we need to do the same.
I would recommend dividing your day into blocks. And to have each block devoted to certain tasks. This way you know exactly what you need to be doing at a certain time and can hold yourself accountable.Divide your day into blocks so you know exactly what you need to be doing at a given time and can hold yourself accountable. Click To Tweet
4. Bonus: Avoid Multitasking by Removing Distractions.
Now you have your schedule and routine in place! The next thing you need to do is to make sure that the time you’ve blocked out is productively used.
To do that you’ll need to remove everything that you find distracting. For most millennials, this means:
- Staying away from TV.
- Blocking distracting sites.
- Steering clear of social media or messaging applications
I’ve written a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to do the above, titled 3 Steps to Removing Distractions and Tripling Productivity, that you can reference. It contains my three favorite strategies for distraction-free work.
Being Productive At Home
By following these tips, you will find yourself more productive than ever when you work from home.
I’d love to hear about your experiences using these strategies or about your own tips and tricks. Feel free to share in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.