I consider myself very fortunate to work from home. I love the fact that my daily commute is just 30 seconds from bed to desk, and that I can take the children to school, get the washing done and occasionally go for a run whilst still putting in a days work.
But of course, this is partly why ‘working from home’ gets a bad name. When people hear that I work from home, they really think that I spend my days watching Homes Under the Hammer and Jeremy Kyle. And that is of course the reason why many employers still feel unhappy about letting staff have working from home days as they believe that productivity will suffer. However, in my experience working from home can be extremely beneficial – by staying motivated and being able to put in a full days work (and of course, that doesn’t have to be 9-5pm), it means I have greater work-life balance – particularly given that I am not wasting precious hours of my day travelling. So here are my top tips for staying motivated and getting the best out of your days when working from home.
As tempting as it is to spend all day in your pyjamas, just because you can – it really doesn’t help with getting work done and it all goes back to that saying we learned at school, “Dress smart, think smart”. When we make the effort to shower and get dressed in the morning, then we feel better about ourselves and are in a better frame of mind to get work done.
Set A Routine
Being clear about when you are working and when you are not adds structure and routine to your day. This really helps you to identify exactly when you should be working and when you can have down time. If you blur these lines, then it is so easy to take time off when you should be getting your important tasks done. Of course, the benefit of working from home means that this routine need not be a 9-5. You can set a routine that works with your home life. For me I like to spend half an hour before breakfast planning my day. I then ensure the children are ready for school and ensure the washing is done before sitting down and doing a good 3-4 hours work. I then take a planned break where I go for a walk or take some exercise and then complete another chunk of work in the afternoon (length depending on what time I have to pick the children up). If it was a short day I also add an extra hour of work when they go to bed. For me that works as I manage to get a significant amount of work done, get some household chores done, spend quality time with the children and have some ‘me’ time. It’s a challenging routine – but it’s a routine that enables me to get things done and have more balance in my life.
Plan Your Day
Planning your day is critical as otherwise you will find yourself fleeting from one thing to another and not getting anything achieved. If you have a clear plan of what you need to do, broken down into tasks then it is easy to undertake each task in turn and tick off that list. However, do bear in mind how much time it will actually take to deliver each task – most people underestimate how much time tasks take. Also build in extra contingency time to ensure that you have time for those task which take longer than you think but also so you can deal with those unexpected things that come along (and often they do!).
Break Down Those Tasks Into Manageable Chunks
We’ve all seen task on our list that makes our heart sink because we just don’t know where to start! So if you have something big on your list – break it down into much, much smaller tasks. That way you can spend as little as 15minutes on something that will still contribute to your goal – and if you have enough of those 15minutes you will get there!
Do The Worst Job First
Yes, you heard right. How many times does that dreaded phone-call slip to the bottom of the list and somehow never manage to get done? And how many times during the day have you thought about that task with that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach? Well that all wastes time. If you get it done first thing, you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day by doing the tasks you love.
Add A Sense Of Urgency
For some this may be the urgency to get a sell to ensure the mortgage can be paid but when you can a list of tasks that are working towards a big goal it is sometimes difficult to get a sense of urgency about those individual things. My trick is to set an alarm clock, giving myself 15minutes to get a task done. That sense of competition gives me the focus that I need to achieve and it’s amazing just how much I can get done in a morning.
It’s so easy to get distracted – particularly if you are completed a mundane task. So make sure any likely distractions are removed. Keep your workspace clear and when you are focusing on a task in hand, switch off email and don’t give into the temptation to open up your internet browser. From experience I can tell you that Facebook, twitter, BBC News online and google rarely help you to get your job done!
Having a reward lined up is a great motivator to achieve. Personally I have a daily reward – if I get all my planned tasks completed in a morning then I’ll go for a run (not a reward to everyone, granted). I also have bigger rewards – such as going out to dinner for when I get a much bigger goal completed. So launching my new website was a big goal for me and when times were getting tough, knowing I could enjoy a night out when it was all finished gave me something to look forward to and got me through those times.
Sometimes people feel that if they are seen outside on a work from home day, they will be seen as skiving. Actually going outside and getting some fresh air at some point will help you. Take a break, get some fresh air and when you get back to your workload you will actually be more focused.