Working from home isn’t always the dream job it’s made out to be. You will often see online how these people are leading the perfect lives, getting up when they want, having as many coffee breaks as they like with their own personal Spotify playlist in the background.
Sure, all those things can happen and you can lead a very nice balanced life whilst working from home but sometimes like in all aspects of life things can get in the way.
This article is crafted to help you stay focused and hopefully on track so you can still meet your targets and deadlines.
Lets just go over that last point first before we continue. Targets and deadlines are a must with working from home (in all work really). You must hold yourself accountable and measure your work.
For example, if you write do you have a minimum daily word count you like to reach each day?
If you are a blogger, do you have a minimum target of blog posts you like to write each week?
If you are an eBay reseller or run an e-commerce store do you have a minimum amount of items you like to list each day/week?
If you do client based work such as web design then you will also have deadlines and targets. These are very important.
Task management software is great and there are many options online but most will set you back a monthly fee. Alternatives are of course a whiteboard (my preferred choice), good old notepad and pen or free software such as Google sheets.
Either way, make sure you track your tasks and set targets and goals.
Here are five ways in which you can stay focused and on the right track whilst working from home.
Focus on one thing at a time
This is a really important step and also a create one towards reaching a much higher productivity rate. Trying to multi-task and do several jobs at once is not going to cut it. You will find you will do them half-arsed and not to the highest quality you can. Just focus on one job at a time.
You can’t build a website, write a blog post, design a logo and list 5 ebay items simultaneously. You just can’t. Simply focus your time on just one thing.
You mind will hone in better and your concentration will be higher and you are much more likely to complete the tasks better and in the given time period than trying to complete them all at once.
Create to-do lists
Lists are essential when working from home. You should always make a list, in fact its really good practice to create a list the night before so you know what you are going to be working on when you get up. Lists make you feel good as you can track your progress and see how many tasks you have completed in that given time period.
Some people like to make daily lists (which I recommend) whilst others will have weekly or even monthly lists. It does not really matter, a personal preference I guess. Either way, do it though.
But, when making lists its easy to start with the easier tasks first as completing tasks makes you feel good and worthwhile. Do not fool yourself into not doing the more taxing tasks as they will still be there at the end of the day/week.
As I mentioned before you do not need any fancy software to create your lists. A simple notepad, whiteboard will do.
However if you work in teams or partnerships then some cloud based software like Google docs can be a useful way to share your lists with other users.
There are a ton of smartphone apps you can use too for managing
There is a free version and it is a very good list and calender management tool.
Set a routine
Setting a routine is also a very important part of your day to day management. Set your alarm to go off at the same time each morning. If you have kids to get ready for school and need to plan around them first then do so, do not try and work and get them organised in the morning at the same time.
You can obviously go the extra mile here and some or even all days you can get up earlier and do an extra hour before the kids get up. The twilight hours for some can be the most productive hours in the day.
Dress up properly, I am not saying put a full suit on although some people do this even whilst working from home. But I mean sitting around in your pyjamas all day is not going to cut it. You are a professional remember and this is your business.
Eat and take breaks at set times. The brain likes things organised a planned. Stick to the same times you take breaks and have your lunch.
Treat it like a work day. If you do have to work around the kids your day could look something like this.
- 5:30am – Get up
- 5:45am – Write for one hour
- 7:00am – Get kids ready for school
- 8:45am – School drop off
- 9:00am – Work through to-do lists
- 10:30am – Mid morning coffee/drink
- 10:45am – Work through to-do lists
- 12:30am – Lunch
- 13:00pm – Work though to-do lists
- 15:00pm – School pick up
Then you can choose if you want to do another hour or so in the evenings once the kids are back in bed. Your choice.
Obviously for many people working from home the routine will be different, but stick with a routine. It definitely helps with your productivity.
Create a happy and productive working environment
If you think that laying around in bed with your laptop is a good working space then think again. If you can you really should have a home office or at least an area with a table, chair and good lighting.
The very fact that you “go to a place to work” tells your brain that this is work time. Sitting on the sofa with the television on really isn’t a productive way to work.
Some people like to have some gentle, relaxing music on in the background while other prefer silence. I like both and do work in both conditions.
The lighting is important too. Too much strain on your eyes can lead to fatigue and headaches if you are spending too much time in front of the computer. Some adjustable LED lights work really well for home office work stations.
Whilst I don’t want to get all “health and safety” here it is important to stress that a good, ergonomic chair is a very important purchase. You are going to be spending a lot of time in it so make sure it is a good one.
Another good idea for your working environment are picture boards, these can be things that you are aiming for or indeed things you already have. A good message and reminder as to perhaps why you are working in the first place. Maybe this could be a picture of your family, a new car or a holiday destination you are aiming for.
Switch off and tune in
I can’t stress this last one enough. In order to be focused and productive you need to hone in on what you are doing. When you are fully concentrating and focused is when you will get your best work done.
Switch off all your social media notifications or move your phone to another room. If you work in “chunks” then you can check it after you have finished your chunk of work. (40 minute work chunks are a good time frame)
This method is based on the Pomodoro technique developed by
Francesco Cirillo in the
Log out of all your email tabs when on the PC. You do not need an email notification too when you are working. Emails are fine left for a while – seriously, do not worry about replying in the next 5 minutes. Nothing will happen if you don’t reply straight away. You can check your emails once per day and that is more than enough.
Same goes for the TV, unless you are a trader then I can think of no reason why you would need the TV on during the daytime whilst you are at home trying to work.
If you apply these techniques in your working from home routine then you will get more done, which will ultimately lead to more sales.
Which is of course the one metric you should always monitor.