As technology provides more connections, it also creates the opportunity to tap in to work from any place, at anytime.
Eighty-five percent of office workers expect their employers to provide technology that lets them work and collaborate from anywhere, according to a study by Softchoice. Furthermore, 74 percent of employees noted they would quit their jobs to work for a company that would allow them to work remotely more often, per the study.
“The great thing about working from home is the flexibility,” notes Fiona Adler, founder of Actioned.com, a productivity tool for individuals and teams. “But it’s also one of the problems! We tell ourselves we have all day to get work done so it’s easy for the day to slip by being filled up with things other than our high priority tasks.”
If you work from home on occasion or full-time, follow these guidelines to boost your productivity and vamp up your daily output.
1. Write it Down.
“Begin each week or each day planning what you want to accomplish during your work hours,” suggests Chelsea Krause, head accounting writer at Merchant Maverick who has been working from home for more than a year.
Either jot down your goals on in a planner, plug them in to a Google Calendar, or use project management software like Redbooth.
“Crossing off my goals as the week goes on always helps me feel accomplished and motivated to continue working,” adds Krause.
2. Set Aside a Space.
Whether it’s a room or table, make sure you have a spot for your computer and anything else you’ll frequently reach for, like pens, reference material and a phone.
And if you have an office in your house, keep a lock on the door, suggests David Tevendale, director of business development at Vast Conference with 11 years of experience working from his home office. The lock serves a dual purpose: first, you can walk in and close the door in the morning to separate your work life from the outside world; then, when you’re done for the day, you can simply close the door and walk away.
Also make sure the space has a fast, high quality Internet connection. If you have family members who will be online during your working hours, buy enough bandwidth for everyone to share.
Once you have a dedicated work space, look for ways to make it your own: hang inspirational quotes, keep it clean and uncluttered, invest in proper lighting, and use a standing desk if you get tired of sitting.
3. Make a Schedule.
Set consistent hours to get work done, and let your family and friends know you’ll be unavailable during those times. Get dressed and ready before your starting time, just as you would for an office.
To get into the right mindset, “create productive habits that trigger your mind to know when it’s time to focus,” suggests Krause. Perhaps you grab a fresh cup of coffee, put on a certain type of music, or close the office door.
Take breaks during the day to keep your energy levels up. Use these times to take a quick walk, do a household chore, or check personal messages.
4. Use a Productivity App.
“When working from home, you must have the ability to control your attention, and not be constantly distracted,” notes Maura Thomas,founder of RegainYourTime.com and author of “Personal Productivity Secrets.”
5. Communicate Clearly.
Keep in touch with others to create the same effect of accountability that is notably present in an office environment, advises Adler. Have a weekly meeting to discuss priorities for the week. Google hangouts, WebEx, and Zoom can make face-to-face time take place from anywhere.
Then stay updated on projects using email, Google Docs or Slack.
And if you run your own business, look for a mastermind group or others in your industry to connect with, adds Adler. “Even though your work might not impact them, you’ll still find the accountability motivating.”