Working from the comfort of your own home is, understandably, an idea that interests many people – on paper, it sounds like a great way to find the often elusive work/life balance.
However, if you don’t take a careful and structured approach to working from home, the reality is that you might be better of working in the office.
Keeping distractions down to a minimum is paramount if you want to be successful with online, remote jobs from home.
With that said, here are some of our top tips to help you stay focused and become as efficient as possible when working remotely, or from home:
Before you start
First of all, you need a proper, comfortable workstation. You have to create yourself a designated workspace. This will help ensure that you stay in “work mode” throughout the day, and is the approach that any serious remote worker should be taking.
Get yourself a proper chair, and make sure that you have plenty of office supplies, and any essential extras (chargers, printer, coffee pot etc.).
As with any job, but especially important with stay at home jobs, you should have your schedule for at least the next few days already planned out ahead of time (a full week ahead would be ideal).
Keep a planner, and a calendar close-by your workstation and be disciplined in keeping it up-to-date with meetings, deadlines, and other to-dos.
Waking up and getting ready
Now you have your workstation and agenda for the day laid out, it’s time to wake up! Make sure you wake up with plenty of time to get ready ahead of your agreed/self-defined start time. If you are to start at 9am, it is no good rolling out of bed at 08:57, and opening your laptop.
You should be aiming to get ready for work, just as you would if you had to leave for the office – online jobs should be treated no differently.
Before you sit down at your workstation, you should have already taken a shower, made and eaten a healthy breakfast, and got dressed as you would have if you were leaving the house. Getting into the habit of maintaining this routine is sure to boost your overall productivity.
During the working day, the main challenge you are going to face is keeping focused. To help you maintain concentration on the task at hand, give yourself set times to take breaks (and stick to them!).
Keep a full bottle of water or a coffee/tea pot nearby to prevent you having to keep leaving your workstation mid-task. Get up and go for a walk around your home/outside for five minutes to rest your eyes, and refresh your mind.
Try your utmost to avoid procrastinating on social media platforms, or generally just browsing the Internet. We aren’t robots, and some degree of time-wasting is to be expected but you should be wary of its pitfalls at all times.
Also avoid the temptation to multitask, you already have your daily list of tasks to complete, so go through them methodically, giving each of them the proper undivided attention that they require. There are plenty of productivity apps that will help you along the way.
When working from home, there is the potential to be distracted by things like household chores, making a “quick” call to catch up with a friend or family member etc.
To be as productive as possible when working remotely, during work hours you must stave off the urge to see to any personal tasks you have on your agenda. That pile of dirty clothes can wait until later to be washed.
The key is to make a clear distinction between your professional life, and your private life. Don’t allow friends and family to interfere, make it clear to them that you are busy at work, and can speak to them later when you are on break or have finished for the day.
This can be especially difficult if they are at home during your working hours, but you have to set constructive boundaries with them.
To round up
As you can see from the advice given above, it’s clear that maintaining focus, and a professional mindset is key to ensuring a productive output when working from home. If you are able to get to the stage where you treat your home workspace the same as you would going into an office, you are more than on your way to mastering the art of working remotely.
If you still struggle to keep yourself properly focused, and find yourself slacking off for 10-15 minutes here and there to get non-work related tasks done, here is one final tip: use a prop or a picture placed close to your workspace and pretend that it is your eagle-eyed boss, watching over you!
If you are still struggling to maintain concentration, then maybe working from home isn’t for you – we are all different and this style of work certainly isn’t suited to everyone.
Working from home isn’t as easy as it seems, and it does take some tinkering to find the right balance that works for you. Follow the advice given above to give yourself the best chance of success in your online job from home. Good luck!
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What do you think are the major challenges faced when working from home? Do you agree with the advice given in this article? Do you have any experiences of working from home that you would like share with us? Let us know in the comments below…