Working from home is the ideal situation for many Americans. A recent study by Skype revealed that 34% of Americans work from home at least part time. While working from home offers more flexibility in your daily schedule, extra comfort, and the ability to sleep in an extra hour or two, working from home requires you to maintain the same level as productivity as if you actually went into an office. Here are four ways that you can stay productive while working from home.
Manage Your Time
The biggest requirement for success at your job while working from home is being able to manage your time. This usually requires setting a rigid schedule to keep you on track of your projects, meetings, and email. Without a defined schedule, people who work from home can more easily get distracted by a show on TV, errands to run, or the idea of going back to bed for a nap. Staying productive also means not checking your email every 30 seconds, or visiting Facebook more often than if you were in the office. Set an alarm clock to force yourself to devote time to actually working for 40 minutes, and then use the other 20 minutes of an hour to check and follow-up on email and check Facebook if you are so inclined. For even more success, try checking your email only three times per day. Nothing via email will be so important that you must respond only minutes after receiving the email for fear of the world ending.
Keep Track of Your Finances
If you work from home, you may be on a contract that pays you for projects as they are completed. The financial life of a freelancer or contractor can ebb and flow based on available projects. If you want to be as productive while working from home, know how many projects you need to maintain financial security — or at the least, to pay your bills. Not knowing if you will be able to pay rent next month is a distraction that will negatively impact your productivity. Instead, keep track of your finances to know what projects you need to focus on, and whether you need to pitch for more.
Define a Work-Life Balance
Being productive while working from home requires knowing what part of being at home is about maintaining your business, and what part of being at home can be reserved for setting aside work and enjoying your life and home itself. Having a work-life balance is critical for recharging your batteries and letting go of frustrations you might experience throughout the day so that they don’t continue to impact your productivity.
While working from home — especially as a freelancer — you likely don’t have the luxury of advanced organizational tools like Basecamp or a contact manager like Salesforce. If you work from home — and for yourself — it is critical to use available tools to stay organized enough to not lose a moment of productivity. Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts can be great and free solutions for staying on schedule and managing email. Other apps to consider are FreshBooks to keep track of your time on multiple projects, as well a task management app like Things to organize all the aspects of your projects. Losing track of important conversations or deadlines can have a severe negative impact on your productivity, so it’s important to utilize programs and apps that are available to you to stay organized.
If you work from home, what do you find critical to help you stay productive? Sound off with your advice in the comments.