How to be More Productive Working From Home

It’s no secret that the definition of ‘workplace’ is changing. Fewer and fewer young professionals are victim to the proverbial ball and chain, logging eight hours a day within the same square metre. We’re mobile, adaptable and, increasingly, working from home. Rather than meeting around a desk in the morning, printing documents and submitting them by a deadline, we can conference call via Skype, shoot emails by the second and work collaboratively through Google Docs – and that’s just the tip of the technological iceberg. While many would argue that one’s rate of success increases without the binding structure of office life, we’ve heard countless stories of motivation loss when you’re literally stepping out of bed and into your desk…or maybe they’re the same. Here’s how to get your productive juices flowing again:

Don’t work where you sleep
A home office does not mean set up a desk and printer in your bedroom. As long as the comforts of ‘home’ are within eyeshot (think bed, fridge, TV, foosball table), you’ll never feel like you’re supposed to be working. It just takes one glance at the pantry before you’re on your third meal before noon. If you have the space, designate an area or room of your home/apartment for office use. How you decorate it is up to you, but here’s a good start.

Set (and keep) a schedule
If your out-of-office job allows for flexible working hours, set up a schedule that you can follow daily and caters to your peak performance times. Some people rise and shine, others are night owls; just make sure to be strict with yourself and avoid overstepping the boundaries too often. A notable suggestion: dress for work during the hours you’re committed to working.

Make it known you’re at work
When friends or family hear or see that you’re working from home, the first impression they probably get is that you live the life of a slacker, someone who eases through the day with a few clicks and signatures here and there. Obviously that’s not the case. That’s what happens when the internet is filled with ‘I made $500/day from home doing nothing’ scams. Let them know that if they’re communication with you would be interrupting at the workplace, it’s going to be a disturbance at the home office as well. Or take a page from Seinfeld: “How would you like it if I came to where you work and heckled you?”

Stay in touch with the outside world…
…specifically, your boss and coworkers. Many young professionals cite decreased social activity from working at home as a result of their loss in productivity, so make a point of staying in touch with everyone at your company on a regular basis. This extends to after-work invites for dinner, drinks and whatever it is that brings the office together for some stimulating conversation. Even if a text message or email will suffice for many professional conversations, we find that a phone call usually achieves much more anyway. 

Be mobile
Just because your job status is “working from home” doesn’t mean you’re actually restricted to your place of residence. Coffee shops are a great alternative (as are some boutique hotel lounges) and most cities are also becoming very wi-fi friendly, offering internet connection at many public spaces. Another option is splitting time between your place and that of a coworker – just make sure you discuss whose taking care of lunch beforehand. It’s also a lot more enjoyable to have a partner to “cheers” with when the time strikes for a bottle of Brandy. 

Rush out of the office at the end of the day
Maybe not rush, but most of us can probably relate to the excitement we feel when it’s time to celebrate a hard day’s work and take part in some self-indulgence.  Whether you need to chill out a bit or get some circulation back in your veins, do something that feels like you’ve left work. Close off your home office before heading out so it feels like you’re actually coming home when you’re done doing whatever it is you’re doing.