In today’s working world, more and more people are working outside of the office – either on a part-time or freelance basis. While this setup definitely has its perks, it has some common pitfalls as well, most notably the tendency to succumb to procrastination and distraction. Fortunately, there are strategies that can help. Here are some ideas on how to make your work from home days more productive.
By this time, you probably have a pretty good idea of your working style – i.e. when you’re most productive, what working environments you prefer, what distracts you.
Working remotely often gives you more control over those things. Although some people working from home on a part-time basis often need to adhere to regular work hours, consultants and freelancers usually have more flexibility. So, if you’re someone who thrives on working late at night, for instance, or working in bustling public spaces, now’s your chance to take advantage of that.
Create a Schedule and Stick to It
The best way to stay on task is by making a list of things to do and creating a schedule to do them. Set priorities. Once you know your working style, create consistent work hours and stick to them. If all your personal and professional tasks are accounted for on your schedule, this will free you from the nagging feeling that you’re forgetting to do something. Click here for a list of mobile apps that can help you plan your workday.
It’s difficult to separate your personal and professional life when working from home. Dinner needs to be made, floors need sweeping and you’ve got errands to run. Social media, the Internet, TV, your refrigerator, plus there’s the phone…
Make sure that friends and family know your schedule and honor it. Anticipate and remove as many distractions as possible. This might include arranging for childcare, locking your office or bedroom door, or going to a different location, such as a café or library to avoid interruptions. Build in specific times to answer emails, phone calls and texts so you’re not constantly checking them.
Track Your Time
One of the most effective ways to stay focused is by tracking your time. You can either do this with a good old-fashioned pen and paper or with an app such as Toggl, focus booster or one of the others listed here. These online apps are especially useful if you need to send the client a record of your hours. And having an actual record of your hours makes you more accountable to yourself.
Working in an office requires a level of transparency that’s often missing when working at home. It’s easy to fall behind when there’s nobody around to regularly chart your progress. To stay on target, it helps to break down a project into smaller pieces that include daily goals and weekly deadlines. Work your way back to make sure you are allotting enough time to complete the project.
Answer to Someone
Finally, nothing keeps you motivated like having to answer to someone. Ideally, there’s somebody at the client’s office who you report to. If not, you can ask a trusted friend or colleague to assume the role. Just make sure you both take it seriously. Arrange regular check-ins and make sure they’re willing to hold you accountable and encourage you to stay on task.