How to stay productive when working from home.

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

Productivity. Ugh. Efficiency. Yawn. Procrastination, Sigh.....I think I'll just stick the kettle on!

The Christmas break is over and it's 'back to school' for all of us, our New Year's resolutions are dragging us down, so how do we make the most of our business hours, stay productive and focussed. It's far too tempting to hide behind the screens searching for summer holiday inspiration - or is that just me? Warm seas, blue skies.....sorry, where was I? Welcome distractions are everywhere even in the emptiness of a home office.

After all the noise and chaos of the Christmas holidays you find yourself craving the peace and quiet and the relief from the school holidays.   You cheer when the schools re-open - order can be restored. Yet....all too quickly we hit the January blues so how do we keep motivated whilst working on our own.

Some tried and tested (mostly by me) tips and suggestions to help keep you on track and achieve the most from your working day at home.

1. Have some structure.  Routine and structure are what shape our day and we are better for it.  If you know you are more productive in the morning then schedule in that time to tackle the tasks that need your full productivity or creativity and leave the admin to a time when you know you have more of a slump.  

2. Get some fresh air.  Getting outside, seeing some natural daylight is good for our health.  Fresh air energises us, it's good time out from the desk and especially good to get moving and out of that desk chair.  Time spent outdoors can be particularly good at helping with creativity, leave your phone behind and let your thoughts and day dreams take over.

3. Timetable in down time.  If getting outside is not your thing - or maybe that British weather has simply been... well....typically British.  Schedule in breaks and down time away from your desk and complete short tasks away from your business.  Phone a friend or spend a little longer having lunch - after all an office environment is filled with positive distractions, water cooler moments and popping out to buy lunch.  Just don't spend all day having down time!

4. Set yourself goals or tasks.  Lists are a good thing, once written down it frees your mind to contemplate other more important things.  Setting goals and achievements whether they're for the day, week and month or even year.  Once your task is on the list it won't be overlooked as you've committed to it. Plus it's good to have something to aim towards and even better when it's achieved.

5. Monitor the chocolate addiction.  We all have a weak spot, mine is raiding the fridge at every chance.  Short of putting a lock on it be aware of your bad habits and aim to work around them with solutions such as limiting treats or filling the cupboards with healthy snacks and juices.

6. Still set the alarm clock. It's that routine thing again. Just because you're not commuting to an office it's not an excuse to spend the day in bed - tempting though it often is.

7. Limit time spent on social media - it can take over.  We all know this, many a time does a 'I'll just check Instagram whilst I'm waiting for the kettle to boil' turn into 'where did that half hour go?'

8. Delete notifications on your computer and phone.  How often are we heads down in thought tapping away on our keyboard only to find our thoughts completely interrupted by a notification sign.  Rarely is it important.  Reports suggest it takes us over 20 mins to get back into our previous task after a distraction. SM distractions are self inflicted.  If turning your notifications off brings you out in hives at least hide it in another room when the pressure and deadlines are mounting. 

9. Join a networking group and get out and new meet people, we're social beasts and we still need our fix of chatter.  Plus networking really does have many benefits, new contacts might be the obvious one but also sharing tips and ideas and realising you are not alone working from home.

10. Set time after your scheduled working hours to do personal admin and chores (and check social media!).

- It's easy to think that they'll only take a minute and since you are working from home it'll save you later.  Trust me, what it really means is you are procrastinating and simply putting off what you actually need to do.

11. Have a dedicated work space.  No, not the kitchen table.  Have somewhere you can leave your laptop open and your papers and lists out.  Having a dedicated workplace and thinking space will make you more productive - and keep you further away from the fridge.

12. If above all fails - head to the local coffee shop -sometimes it's the background distraction that helps.  It might be the lack of fridge distractions or simply the fact that you can't fake it in a public place and simply sit on FaceBook all day.

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