Whether you work from home full time or just make use of your home office in the evenings, you know how hard it can be to be productive and stay on track. Usually, social networking sites and the internet as a whole tend to be the biggest productivity inhibitors, but there are countless other distractions that always seem to pop up just as you’re settling in to work.
If you’re looking for ways to make better use of your time at home, check out these 20 work at home and business productivity tips:
Track Your Time to Increase Efficiency
Use a service like Toggl, a free online time tracking tool that enables you to see how a majority of your time online is spent. By providing easy to follow pie charts, Toggl enables you to compare how much time you spend on Facebook vs. how much time you actually spend working, researching, etc.
Schedule Your Day
Whether you want to use an old school desk calendar or a hyper organized BlackBerry, it’s up to you, but writing down a daily or weekly schedule of all the work that needs to be done can keep you on track.
Focus on the Task at Hand
Look into ad-ons such as Firefox’s LeechBlock, which enables you to improve your productivity and focus on work by blocking time-wasting sites such as Facebook that tend to suck the life out of your working day.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
Separate work from home by designating an area in your home for your work. Not all of us have the space for a home office, but creating an area in your bedroom or den can change your productivity levels. It will even change your thinking; when you enter the area you’ll know that you’re there to do work and rather than thinking, “I’m home,” you’ll think, “I’m at work.”
Routines are Crucial
Having a routine is the key to being productive, this is why you should set regular hours and have a daily work schedule you follow.
When you really need to concentrate and be productive, it’s vital to get rid of all distractions. Unplug your office phone, turn off your cell phone, turn of IM and e-mail notifications, and if necessary, disable the internet until you’ve completed the task at hand.
Take a Break
Just because you’re working remotely, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks like other workers. You shouldn’t get too off track by breaking for your favorite afternoon soap opera, but taking a small snack break or lunching in your backyard will keep you grounded and on track.
Plan Out Your Work Days
Designating certain days for specific types of work will help you make sure that all of your bases are covered and that nothing is left for to the last minute or has to be done over the weekend.
Make Sure Your Family Knows Your Work Schedule
Make your work schedule available to your spouse and/or children. You can’t be very productive if you constantly have family barging in and disrupting you. Make it clear to them that during certain hours you are working and they should behave as if you’re not home.
Avoid Getting Burned Out
Just because you work from the comfort of your home, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to work 10 or 12 hour days. If you wouldn’t do that in a conventional office, don’t do that at home. It may seem like you’re being productive, but the quality of your work will begin to suffer if you’re spending your days cooped up.
Right, we’re only half way through our productivity tips list. Lots more to go.
Dress the Part
Don’t work in your pyjamas When working from home, you should get up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, and then settle in to work as you would if you weren’t working from home. If you can, maybe even squeeze in a workout before heading to your home office for the day. This type of routine will keep you healthy, happy, and sane. If you wouldn’t just roll out of bed and head to the office, why do that while working from home?
A conventional office will have assistants and receptionists and mail clerks and a load of other people that make your life convenient. When working from home you won’t have those types of conveniences and you’ll have to run your own errands. To stay productive and not kill too much time, group your errands together. Group your meetings and errands together to minimize your out-of-office time or even better, designate one day as your day to run errands.
Interact with Others
Working from a cubicle isn’t an ideal situation for many people, but at least they get to interact with their coworkers and eat lunch with others while working in a conventional office. Not only will you miss this when working from home, but spending so much time alone can put you in a bad headspace and make you unproductive. This is why you should arrange at least one social break during the week; schedule a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even just coffee with a friend, client, or vendor.
Break Through the “Block”
14. If you get writers/programmers/designers block, you must try and force yourself to churn out content. You can’t be productive if you’re just sitting there all day waiting for inspiration to strike. The things you “churn out” may not be the best quality, but it will get the juices flowing and chances are that when you’re back in a good headspace, you’ll be able to make use of the content you developed while feeling blocked. This is one of the most important productivity tips, if you can’t get around this one the rest of these productivity tips become useless.
Prioritize Your Work
Each day create a MIT or Most Important Task. Have your MIT be the first thing that you tackle each day so that even if the rest of the day is unproductive, you still did something of value.
A Little Extra Effort
When you get stuck on something or feel like you want to quit the task at hand, commit to pushing and continuing what you’re doing for at least 15 more minutes. This is usually enough to carry you out of the slump and move forward. If it’s not, you could probably use a break.
Enjoy the Fruits of Telecommuting
Taking advantage of the flexibility you have as a telecommuter is key to being productive. Unlike others, you can make adjustments to your work schedule to take on new opportunities, so take advantage of these and be productive in a way others are incapable of because of nine-to-five schedules.
Network, Network, Network…
Keeping with the flexibility theme, use your open schedule to your advantage by networking more. Join a networking group that meets for breakfast. It may seem like it’s taking time out of your work, but you can make important connections that will lead to more work and more income.
Avoid Busy Work; Be Constructive
Recognize the difference between busy work and constructive work. If you find yourself responding to work-related emails that aren’t relevant to the tasks you have to complete that day, it may be a sign that you are bored with the task you’re supposed to be doing. Rather than continue doing busy work, shift gears and begin working on something else that’s constructive.
Set Short and Long Term Goals
Set goals. Earlier we discussed scheduling what you need to do in a given day or week, but take it a step further by setting monthly goals or yearly goals, projecting where you want your home business or your work to be in the future. This will keep you motivated and each productive day can be seen as one step closer to your ultimate goal.
Did you enjoy these productivity tips? Let us know in the comments if you have any other productivity tips of your own.