I remember when I first started working from home as a domainer, my Dad was adamant it wasn’t a real job. In his mind a job meant getting up early in the morning and going into the office. He has since begun to understand the online world a little more, and at the same time I have begun to understand his initial point, too. Working online from home can at times feel like you aren’t really working at all. Moreover, because you aren’t in an office environment, it is difficult not to be distracted, and even more difficult for family and friends to understand when you are working and need to be left alone. You can’t blame them though for thinking that you earn money for staying at home tinkering about on the computer.
While the dream might be to work as little as possible and make as much money as possible, if you aren’t disciplined in your approach to home working you will never realize the dream. So how can you become more productive without making work seem too…well, work-like! Here are a few tips I’ve implemented in my own life to help you maximize efficiency and ensure family and friends respect your work time and space…
1. Keep a To Do List
Almost forgotten but by no means redundant, the ‘to do’ list is the ultimate work from home tool. This underestimated, simple, practical and motivating old skool organization method allows you to keep on top of things, empty your busy mind on paper and ensure you forget nothing. However, the ‘to do’ list is useless created on a laptop, smartphone or tablet; it must be handwritten and stuck – ideally on a Post-It note – somewhere on your desk. Add the next day’s ‘to-dos’ before you shut up shop for the day and tick them off as you get them done.
2. Buy/Make a “Do Not Disturb” Sign
When you’re working let family know you are in the zone by putting up your “do not disturb” sign, either hanging on your door or highly visible on your desk. This sign means only urgent “have you got a moment” queries will be accepted. Make sure household members know that when this sign is in effect a disturbance is a sin unless it really can’t wait.
3. Set a Work Day Routine
Sounds scary, right? But this routine need not be 9-5 like an office, because after all, that would defeat the object of having the freedom of working from home. However, it is important to recognize that often we get so out of routine it becomes unproductive. So schedule a routine that maximizes productivity but still provides you with that same air of freedom. So perhaps 3 hours work in the morning, and then a break for gym and lunch, 3 hours in the afternoon, and then pick the kids up from school, and then an hour’s email sorting after dinner. Do whatever suits you, but remember, the more of a routine you have the more likely you are to be productive.
4. Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today
Not having a boss breathing down your neck can make you a little lazy. Having the power to say, “Ahh, to hell with it, I’ll do it tomorrow” can impact negatively on the success of your work online. Why leave something until tomorrow when you know full well you can do it today with a minimal amount of effort? If you really don’t have time, put it on the ‘to do’ list.
5. “Tidy Office Tidy Mind”
This encompasses a number of things, but mostly this is about mindful work practice. Just because you aren’t in an office environment doesn’t mean you should neglect your workspace and organizational skills. Make sure you incorporate the following 5 things into your office routine.
– Keep emails organized by using folders to sort different projects/correspondence.
– Don’t be lazy and save everything to your desktop with the promise that you’ll get around to sorting it out one day (it’ll take you ages to find anything).
– Put your office to bed at the end of the day by leaving papers tidy and desk items neatly in order.
– Shut your computer down and turn off the power to ensure your space is carbon friendly.
– Keep your office space clear of non-work related items that may become a distraction >> keep the PS3 in the living room 🙂
Time to get some work done!