Do you work from home but struggle to keep a high productivity level? Here are 20 work at home secrets to keep you on track and top of everything.
Working from home is a work style that has been very popular for quite some time now. It offers many benefits to both the employee and the company. But inasmuch as productivity is concerned, could there be work at home secrets that help?
For employees, work at home opportunities serve as an opportunity to free themselves from long commute times and work in a more familiar setting. In addition, many companies actually provide work from home opportunities because it can often save them money on office space and overhead costs while still allowing their employees to complete their work tasks on time and without supervision. Even with all of these substantial benefits, there are also disadvantages that come along with work at home opportunities which means that if you're serious about working from your own residence, then it's essential that you try to figure out how you can be productive while still at home.
20 Ways to Be Productive Working from Home
First of all, I have here some work from home secrets to share and to tell you honestly, this has to start with a work plan. By creating your work schedule in advance, you will avoid having to work around distractions and unplanned events which can result in work delays. A good work plan includes both personal tasks, and work or business related tasks, so try to find a comfortable balance between the two so that working doesn't feel like too much of a chore while at the same time you accomplish everything on your list during your work hours.
How to be productive working from home? Follow this list diligently and for sure, you'll be more productive than you ever were back then.
1. Do your research and planning before you leave the house.
Before leaving your home to head into the office, you should sit down and do some planning for that day's particular tasks. This will ensure that when you get to work, you can jump right in with no distractions and knock out a few things on your list. It is also very beneficial if you have children because they may not be old enough yet to start doing this type of thing alone. This way, until they are old and responsible enough, it is one less chore for you to worry about completing before heading out in the morning.
2. Avoid taking calls or put your phone on silent mode.
When working from home, try establishing a strict no-calls policy or if you do get a call, be sure to take it in another room where your household noises won't interfere. This will ensure that your work time remains distraction free and uninterrupted. The last thing you want is to get caught up in a phone conversation and forget to complete an important task by the end of the day.
3. Take advantage of local resources.
If there are no daycare facilities available for children under school age, why not ask a friend or family member if they could babysit while you're out working? Most people would jump at the chance to help someone out since they know how much childcare costs these days and although it's only short term, it should still save you some money. Just make sure you're prepared to return the favor when they need help!
4. Keep paperwork organized but easily accessible.
You don't want to spend time looking around for misplaced papers and/or information that you'll need later on in the day so make sure to keep your work documents neatly stored in a filing cabinet or accordion file for example, but somewhere where it is easy to access such as an office desk drawer. This might seem like common sense, but if you're anything like me, I procrastinate doing this task because I know that it will take away from my Internet time.
5. Keep track of your working hours.
Since you are now considered self-employed, it is your responsibility to keep track of the number of hours that you worked on any given day. This way, come tax season which is usually during the first quarter of the year, you can deduct these expenses on your yearly income tax return and reduce the amount that you owe Uncle Sam. Be sure to keep all receipts until this time, which means no throwing anything out! Also remember to save monthly bank statements as proof of the money that went towards bills or other business-related costs during this same period, usually it's only a few months.
6. Talk with your employer about working at home more often.
Since you are already working from home, it makes sense to take advantage of this perk and make it a more permanent arrangement. Ask your employer if they would consider allowing you to work on some projects from the comfort of your own home office. I'm sure once they realize how much money they can save on office expenses (rent, utilities, etc.), they'll be more than happy to oblige!
7. Make yourself at home in another room.
If you're fortunate enough to have an area of your house that is comfortable and where household noises aren't likely to bother you, then use this space as your “home” for the day so that even when family members need something or there is a knock at the door, it won't distract you. It may sound obvious, but it's surprising how easy it is to forget these simple suggestions!
8. Avoid distractions at all costs.
You will need to create some sort of barrier between yourself and anyone who isn't directly involved with your work. This means that, if possible, the door should be closed (and/or lockable) so that no one can just walk in on you unexpectedly. If this simply isn't an option then try putting up a “do not disturb sign” or something similar where you know it will be seen immediately by everyone who goes by including pets! It also pays to stay away from windows because chances are, once you see sunlight peeking through the blinds… well, let's just say that I've been there and it's not pretty.
9. Be prepared for distractions.
If you know in advance that certain family members will be home at a given time, then be sure to “hide” your work-related items so they won't become a distraction. This means unplugging the phone if someone is expecting an important call or trying to finish up an urgent deadline project before Monday morning. If such things are needed then let them borrow your computer after hours when you're done working! Finally, don't forget to lock away any house keys so no one can tag along with you later on in the day without asking first. Trust me, this will save you from unnecessary arguments and questions.
10. Take regular breaks in between your shifts.
It is important to remember that you are not chained to your desk, therefore, don't forget to get up and stretch every hour or so because sitting too long without doing this can result in chronic back pain (which no one wants or needs), plus it also increases the risk of developing blood clots. Sitting for too long is definitely something to avoid!
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11. Consider hiring an assistant if necessary.
If you're blessed with a very flexible employer who doesn't mind too much that you work at home but simply insists on certain deadlines, then consider hiring someone such as a family member to act as your personal assistant during office hours. This way, they will be able to take phone calls, handle any mail that comes in, fax documents for you, and so on. Finally, if an assistant is needed then it doesn't really matter where they work from as long as the job gets done.
12. Take a break every once in a while to weed out stress.
Did you think that all this talk about working from home meant that I had forgotten about your personal life? Of course, not! But now it's time to remind you that taking care of yourself mentally and physically is just as important as any other aspect of your life! Therefore, don't forget to make those doctor appointments, schedule those haircuts and spa treatments (yes plural because more than one isn't nearly enough), and book those “date nights” with your significant other or go out with friends. You might be surprised to learn that it actually feels good to treat yourself well every once in a while.
13. Make your home office appealing and comfortable.
One of the most important things you should do when making your new “home office” is to make it look welcoming and appealing so that it becomes more than just a place where you work, but also almost feel like it's become another room in the house; one that everyone will want to spend time in! Therefore, don't forget about comfort (i.e., ergonomic chair), lighting (natural or artificial depending on what you need for specific tasks), smells (incense, essential oils, etc.), artwork, photos, etc. Basically, anything that helps improve the overall appearance and mood of your home office while simultaneously making it more inviting to others.
14. Light a scented candle or diffuse essential oils for aromatherapy.
This might seem like a funny suggestion but the reality is that smelling something good such as the fragrance of grapefruit, lavender, rosemary, or vanilla, can help keep you focused and motivated on the task at hand…at least in my experience! Plus, if you don't want to invest in expensive scented candles then there are plenty of affordable soy candles out there that smell just as nice, plus they're better for you and the environment too. Never underestimate the power of a simple scented candle because it CAN help improve both your focus and productivity levels since it's been known to work for many people time!
15. Get out of the house every now and then and breathe.
As much as I love working from home, it can't be denied that sometimes it's very nice to get away physically from your home office for a day or two, especially if you've been “in the zone” for at least a few days straight. Therefore, don't forget about taking advantage of any vacation time you might have available because this is actually one of the best ways there is to recharge and reenergize yourself too! Plus, getting outside in nature has its benefits too so consider exploring new places that are close by every once in a while just to shake things up.
16. If possible, work during hours when others are not around… especially kids!
It goes without saying that it's usually best to avoid working during hours when other people are around so as to not cause any distractions. Obviously, this is much easier if there are no young children or other family members at home during the day but should you have kids then try your hardest to have them spend most of their time outside, away from the house, or either in school/daycare during office hours too.
17. Treat yourself every once in a while!
Do you remember how I mentioned rewarding yourself earlier on into this article? Well, now it's time for me to explain what I meant by this because it can mean different things for different people. For instance, some people might choose to reward themselves with something materialistic like a new designer handbag or pair of shoes while others may reward themselves by taking a day off from work every now and then to have fun with family & friends. Either way, it's important to treat yourself at least once in a while even if it's just a small thing because this helps to keep you motivated and productive.
18. Get rid of distractions! Have a plan set for those situations.
Another important point that should be mentioned is that any distractions around the house need to be eliminated too, especially those things that seem to “call out” for your attention every single time you pass by them such as electronic gadgets, games, toys, etc. Therefore, remove these items from their usual locations so all you'll see are the walls…or at least move them somewhere where they won't cause problems too by becoming potential distractions.
19. Plan ahead and take vacations, too!
While working at home may sound like it's the embodiment of freedom and flexibility since there aren't any strict schedules to follow, the reality is that it's still important to stick to some standard working hours because this is what your employer most likely expects of you. Plus, when you allow yourself plenty of time in between tasks rather than “stumbling” through one task after the next without any rest, it allows for greater productivity levels since you won't feel stressed out or overwhelmed by everything on your plate which in turn will make your home office work experience much more enjoyable too!
20. Consider getting an extra hand to help you when necessary.
Although perhaps not an option for everyone right away, if possible then I highly recommend at least looking into what companies and websites there are that can help with outsourced administrative support via employing virtual assistants or “remote assistants” as they're also called. This is essentially an individual who has the necessary skills and qualifications to perform certain tasks through email, telephone, or online messaging at any time of your convenience on an ongoing or temporary basis.
As long as you don't feel like you need assistance with more than just a few simple tasks that can be done without physically being in front of your computer then this could really help take some stress off your shoulders while keeping you productive too!
There you have it! If this sounds like something that might interest you and actually save you quite a bit of money and time, then all it takes is some exploring online to learn more about what options are out there. So good luck and don't forget to read more on My Work from Home Series!
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