As an independent professional, you have the major benefit of the ability to conduct business from your own home. By eliminating a daily office commute, you not only save gas money and help the environment, but your work schedule is suddenly much more flexible as well.
However, as you may have already discovered, the one major downside to working from home can be the loss of productivity. You may find yourself distracted by family members, errands, pets, and even your own smartphone. Follow these four tips to stay on task and minimize interruptions.
1. Define a Space for Work
Just because you can work from your living room couch doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Create a defined space dedicated to your work zone—preferably an entire room, if possible—but a section of the kitchen table, or a corner of your living room with a desk will work just as well. A clearly defined boundary between your work and your home space will help you shift your mentality from “I’m at home” to “I’m at work.”
2. Create an Environment You Are Excited to Work In
First, and most importantly, make sure you have a comfortable chair. Since you’ll be sitting in it for most of the day, you’ll want something that doesn’t bother your back and can be easily adjusted. If you use a printer on a regular basis, be sure to invest in one that won’t frustrate you by jamming every time you try to use it.
Next, whether your workspace is an entire converted den or just the corner of your bedroom, decorate. Tailor your décor to your own tastes and keep in mind that decorating doesn’t have to be expensive. Hang a picture or two. Give the room a fresh coat of paint. You’ll be surprised how much little visual touches will make you actually want to spend time in your home office.
3. Develop a Routine
The structure of a physical office often comes with a set, daily routine. Since you aren’t going into an office, create a routine for yourself. The key here is to do whatever works best for you. Maybe you get up, have a cup of coffee, and start working right away. Or, maybe you’d rather go for a run or walk, take a shower, have breakfast, and then get down to work.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure to schedule in periodic breaks for lunch or any errands you may need to run. Lastly, once you’re done with work for the day, you’re done. While it may be tempting to go back and do one last little thing that you just remembered, don’t. Unless it is time sensitive or highly important, write it down and do it in the morning.
4. Have a Plan in Place to Avoid Your Distractions
Some people can work all day with the television on or music playing, but many others find background noise to be distracting. Likewise, if you’re on your computer all day, social networking sites can also be a major problem. Rather than getting caught up in temptation, use small breaks throughout the day to check your Facebook or watch the local news. Consciously avoiding major distractions during work time will ultimately make you more productive.