Productivity is key to work at home success. It doesn’t matter if you have a home based job or business, you need to be productive. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your days.
1. Get a Good Start to Your Day
It doesn’t matter if you work first thing in the morning or start later in the day, a good start to your day is a big help when you’re trying to be productive.
Get up when your alarm goes off. Don’t fool around by whacking the snooze button. It feels good in the moment, but can really mess with your day. Those few extra minutes of sleep really aren’t that worth it.
Instead, use that time to get your morning off to a good start. Get the kids off to school at a more relaxed pace, if your kids are that age. It cuts a lot of stress from your day if you aren’t starting things off in a rush. Get a decent breakfast.
It doesn’t matter if your main work hours aren’t in the morning. A smoother start to your day can feel better all day long.
2. Plan Ahead
At the end of each work day, plan what you need to accomplish the next day. It’s a nice way to wind things down, and it will help you to focus on what needs done right away the next day. Much better than starting each day wondering what you ought to get done.
Do the same for whatever your kids will need. Have them pack their backpacks with homework or anything else they need to give their teachers. Think about what they’ll need for lunch the next day, if necessary. The more organized things are for your kids, they less often they’ll be rushing around in the morning wondering where that big assignment or permission slip got to.
3. Expect Professional Treatment
The more you treat your work as professional, the more others will do likewise. Don’t encourage people to view your home based work as just a hobby or otherwise easily interrupted. This includes you. While there are times that you can take advantage of the flexibility of working at home, you can’t do that all the time. The more you behave as though your work is as serious as a job outside the home, the more others will do likewise.
4. Switch Tasks When You’re Stuck (If Possible)
Sometimes you just get stuck on a particular task. Maybe it’s writer’s block, maybe you’re having trouble with something else. Rather than trying to work your way past it, try working on something else for a time. Often enough, that clears up the problem to where you can complete the task later.
Of course if you’re on a tight deadline, this may not be easy or possible. Avoid this kind of time crunch when you can, but you won’t always succeed in that. If you have to get it done, keep on pushing until it’s done, with maybe a quick break if you think that might clear things up fast.
5. Give Yourself Deadlines
Just because someone else isn’t giving you deadlines doesn’t mean you can’t have any. Giving yourself a deadline can be a huge help. Figure out how soon you think you can complete a given task, and give yourself an appropriate deadline. Many people work better with deadlines – just think about how students will race to complete a project right before a deadline. A deadline gives you a bit of motivation to finish projects promptly rather than procrastinate.
6. Look at Where Your Time Goes
Ever come to the end of the day and wonder where the time went? Write it out. This can be great for spotting time wasters if you’re honest with yourself. You may also be able to see the times of day that you’re most productive, which can be useful in planning your day.
7. Have a Comfortable Workspace
A good workspace is vital to a productive day. It should be reasonably free of distractions and have the tools you need to get your work done. Hopefully it’s even fairly ergonomic. A door you can close so the kids and other family members know to let your work is a big help too.
Setting up a workspace in your kitchen, for example, is rarely a good idea if you can avoid it. There are simply too many distractions there, from people coming in for a snack to the temptation to do a few dishes, get a snack for yourself or make a meal. Find a better place if you can.
8. Minimize Electronic Distractions
If you really need to work, get rid of as many electronic distractions as you can. No Twitter or Facebook unless you’re really using them for a work reason. No email – plan when you’re going to deal with it, don’t just go in and out of it all day. Ignore your phone unless it’s important. No TV, no YouTube or other online videos.
9. Take Breaks
Even when you’re swamped with work, occasional breaks are a must. There’s a reason why employers are required to provide breaks. Even if you’re just working for yourself, take a break from work every few hours.
These breaks shouldn’t just mean goofing off on your computer, although that can be a part of it. You should be getting up regularly just to stretch, for example. Your breaks should be refreshing, and goofing off on your computer only does so much. Get moving. You’ll feel better.
10. Maintain a Work-Life Balance
Even people who work outside the home sometimes find their work taking over practically their entire life. It’s often worse for those who work at home. Work is always there, and it’s too easy to go back to it when you should be enjoying the other parts of your life.
Learn to put your work aside. Make time for family, friends and yourself. You’ll be more productive if you aren’t totally drained from working too hard all the time.