I’ve been working from home for over 4 years. In the beginning, I had many more unproductive days than I did productive days. I came from a job where I could goof around for hours at a time – even nap sometimes, and so discipline was definitely not my strong point. I can honestly say that it took me years to develop a mind-set that allows me to go to bed feeling accomplished, but I also worked for 15+ years without having to have that mindset. In any case, following is what I have learned about staying on track.
Working From Home Can Be Hard But Rewarding
It doesn’t matter what you are doing from home, whether you are creating your own business or working remotely there are many distractions and pitfalls that can cause you to be less productive should be and, possibly, drive you nuts as you try to work. Following are some of the strategies that I use to ensure I have a productive and stress free day.
Create Strict Work Hours
When I first started working from home, I wrote an article about how great it was to be able to create your own hours. I still believe that. I believe that it is nice to take a vacation when you want to or take a nap sick. However, I now believe that you need to have some sort of structured hours in order to get what you want done…done.
So many times I would say to myself “I still have X amount of hours left over in the day and I can start working in a few more hours” only to get tired and unmotivated to work when my husband came home. The truth is that your should be working during the hours when you are the most motivated, the most energetic, and the most ready to sit down and just do it. Do not fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to this because chances are you will only end up putting forth a couple of hours instead of the 8 to 12 hours that you originally wanted to put forth.
I personally work from 8 to 4 at the very least. By creating a structured work time, I am very dedicated to the habit of working between those hours and not allowing myself to go off for a walk, watch TV, or do something else.
Focus Is SO Important To Productivity
This took me a long time to figure out, and even longer to implement into my workday. But now that I do, I can tell you that focus is extremely important to your success. Once I increased my focus, I increased my productivity and success by tons. For instance, I was able to do in one day would use to take me a week to do! (I`m not kidding!) Every single success guru out there will tell you the focus is the key. I had to hear it a lot of times before it finally sunk in though.
Being focused is really a habit though. And, building the habit of focus in this technology driven world is extremely hard. Between Facebook, email, my phone, and everything else that is around me, it was hard to focus on one task at a time. I have had two computer screens, one phone on, and one tablet open at the same time. To say that is unproductive is an understatement.
The point is that you have to find a way to remove all the distractions in your day and focus on one task at a time. Build an office space away from distractions and start working on building the habits that will lead you to focus. For instance, try to build a habit that you only look at Facebook after 6 o’clock in the evening. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the more you will benefit.
Set Goals In Your Day
By having distinct goals to work towards, your day become so much more productive. Instead of working in circles, you know exactly what you need to do closer towards your goals.
After reading ‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalya, I realized one thing – you have to set realistic goals that match your skills and that challenge you. If you are experiencing boredom or anxiety, then your skills and the challenge your goals provide do not line up and you need to adjust something.
For example, if you are bored, then you need to increase the challenge, and if you are anxious, then you need to either bring down the challenge or develop your skills. Creating goals based around this premise is important to keeping you motivated and on task.
So if you work from home, create some goals that both challenge you and fit into your skill set at the same time. You will find that you’ll be excited to ‘get to work’ and face those challenges head on. The end of the day will feel much more productive this way too.
By the way: I use Goals On Track to keep track of my goals. I highly recommend using some sort of goal software to keep track of your work and even personal goals.
Be Consistent With Pets
Your pets are going to be very happy that you are working at home, and they are also going to be very distracting. Because you are home they will want your attention, they will want to go for walks, and they will just want…
It is important to stay focused and realize that your pets are fine. This took me a long time to do. I would get up at the slightest whine, bark, or fussiness. Now, they know that my work time is my work time, and they have developed the habit of sleeping or amusing themselves during this time. In addition, I am careful to be very consistent with my work hours, which is important to them maintaining that habit of not distracting me during that time. Consistency is really the key to training your pets to do anything.
In the end, working from home can be highly productive. I find it much more productive than working in an office. Even my husband enjoys working remotely because there is nobody bothering him, asking questions, or talking about nonsense. He can just focus on his work and get it done. The above tips are things it took me a long time to put into practice but are extremely effective at allowing me to be productive and move towards my goals quicker.