I’m sitting in my home office as I type, well-aware that there is an ever-growing pile of laundry down the hall, mere feet from where I sit. There are dishes in the sink, and the kids’ toys are everywhere. Yet I am 100% committed to my work. For some, it can be overwhelming knowing that there are “home” issues being ignored, yet it is possible to work and home and remain productive. Below are some tips for conquering your own work-at-home demons:
Act as if you were going to work.
Just because you’re working out of your home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it like a real job. Set your alarm and get up at the same time every morning, eat your breakfast, and get dressed in a respectable outfit. I’m not saying you have to put on a suit and heels, but don’t lounge around in your jammies all day, either. When you behave as if you were getting ready to head out to the office, it gets you in the right mindset to be productive all-day long.
Define a workspace.
It doesn’t matter if you have an entire room set aside as your office, or just a little nook in your bedroom, as long as it’s just for work. Your home workspace should be neat and free of any household clutter, and you should have everything you need (laptop, printer, office supplies, etc.) within easy reach. Most importantly, everyone in the family should be aware that when you’re in this space, you are working, and should not be disturbed.
Your home is just full of things waiting to grab your attention. The trick to being productive is knowing how to tune these things out and focus on the task at hand. Some common distractions include:
- Television. If the urge to turn on Maury in the middle of the day may prove too tempting for you, make sure your television set is far away from your workspace! It’s too easy to just flip that switch and lose hours to mindless daytime talk shows.
- Email. Too many entrepreneurs spend all day long answering emails as soon as they come in. Instead, set aside certain times throughout the day to check messages, and ignore them the rest of the time.
- Social Media. Turn off social media notifications on your phone, and don’t even open the apps on your pc. Once you get sucked into that Facebook time trap, you can lose half your day without even thinking about it.
- Pets. If you have an animal that craves your attention, try to keep them out of your office during work time. A kitty on your keyboard or a dog on your lap isn’t very conducive to getting stuff done. Schedule time during the day to take short breaks and bond with your animals.
- Children. Working at home with kids in the house can be rough. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it but try to set boundaries. Pre-plan activities that can keep them busy during your work time or see if a friend or family member can help watch them for a few hours during the day.
Schedule regular break times.
According to a recent study, the most productive workers engage in office-related activities for 52-minutes, then take a 17-minute break. Working from home doesn’t mean you need to be tied to your desk all day. Think of it this way: if you were working a corporate job, you’d get a lunch break, and probably another mini-break or two throughout the day. Do the same at home. Eat a mid-day meal, go for a short walk, or catch up on your Facebook newsfeed for 10 minutes. Some time away from the screen can help refresh you, and you’ll come back at your work with renewed energy.
If all else fails – get out of the house.
If you’re having a hard time concentrating at home, maybe you need a change of scenery. Heading to the local coffee house, or connecting from Barnes and Noble, can help break you out of a rut. The noise and energy of other people might just be what you need to get you going again!
With a little self-discipline (and some cooperation from the family), you will be on the road to a productive home-office in no time!
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