Have you ever worked from home before?
Or maybe daydreamed about it while being stuck in a stuffy cubicle with a colleague sniffling into a tissue next to you?
There’s no doubt about it; working from home rocks. You can wear pajamas ALL day, there’s no gas or parking expenses (or commuting), fewer office policies, and decreased food costs… admit it, you only order a double cheeseburger and cheese fries as a treat for those days you leave the house.
Not to mention, working from home gives you the flexibility to choose your hours. However, for all its ups, working from home can come with a few downsides, including staying accountable and productive when that pile of laundry or the dishwasher start calling your name.
If you’re finding that chores are consuming more of your time than work, it might be good to set aside eight solid hours (or two four-hour shifts) to focus on work. However, if that’s not your cup of tea, keep reading to discover other strategies to maximize your productivity while you type away in your jammies.
The Pomodoro Technique
This is an alternative to a classic “Work Day” schedule. In this method, you use the Pomodoro Technique or a variation thereof.
The Pomodoro Technique is traditionally choosing a single task, then working on it for 25 minutes, then you take a five-minute break. If you’ve got children at home, you can show them a timer and explain that until it goes off, mommy (or daddy) needs to work.
But I know for myself, this means stopping right when I’m in the flow of things. So I work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. Find a time that works for you and stick to it.
Now the advantage of this technique is it’s actually great for work from home people, as you can customize it to fit your day and life. You focus on your work task for your work time. Then when it’s “break time” you can start your laundry, play with the kids for a few minutes. You can even add a quick one song danceathon to get your blood moving.
Speaking Of That Danceathon…
You’ve heard sitting is bad, but maybe a stand-up desk is not for you either (yes, sore feet from standing too long is a real thing). During a break, or when you get tired, stiff and start losing focus… it may be time for a different kind of break!
Turn on your favorite song that you can’t resist moving to, and dance away! Set a timer for two or three minutes and move or exercise as hard as you can. Do a minute plank. Or, try doing yoga, stretching, or do tai chi for a few minutes. Even better, chase your dog (or your kids)!
Just get up and move for one to three minutes.
I know, this does not sound productive at all. However, you’ve stretched your muscles and you’ve gotten your blood pumping. As a result, when you sit back down to work, you’ll notice your productivity increases. Plus, you get the added benefit of being healthier (no salad needed)!
Have a Work Space
Not all of us have the luxury of an entire room for a home office. However, having a space dedicated to work, even if it’s the corner of a room, can help with your productivity.
In this space, you want to make certain you have the tools you need for your day, so you aren’t constantly searching for them. Have any equipment you may need near this space. This may include a computer, charger, pencils/pens, a pad of a paper, a printer and lots and lots of coffee.
Then make your space comfortable for working… just not too comfortable!
If you have to travel for work, get a bag that allows you to keep all your supplies together, so they’re still easy to find.
Eat a Frog for Breakfast
Before you quickly exit out of this article because this sounds absolutely disgusting, just hear me out. This is based on what Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Each day (or the night before) decide on the least appealing task you need to get done for the day. This task becomes the first task that you do. It’s also the most important one to use a timer on (even if you don’t follow a timer technique). By getting your biggest and baddest task out of the way early in the day, you make all the tasks that follow a lot more pleasant. It’s kind of like eating dessert for the rest of the day (I know it isn’t really, but you don’t have to actually eat a frog either).
Manage Your Tasks
To-do lists often seem cumbersome, but they are super helpful when you’re working from the comfort of home. Task Managers can be a helpful variation by taking all the tasks that may be in your mind and putting them out somewhere for you to see.
If you’re not looking for a fancy list software, simply write your list down on a piece of paper or in a note on your computer. Or use the Free Google Keep Chrome Extension. It allows you to add a task list to your desktop, assign yourself dates and add it to your calendar.
Once you have a list in place, you can look through all the tasks and decide which are most important, which tasks can wait, and which tasks that are nice to do but not necessary anytime soon.
At the end of the day, you can go through and decide what five tasks you want to complete tomorrow. Don’t forget to include one of those frogs. Then, include four more tasks that will make your day feel productive if you complete them.
Keep a Diary
No, you don’t have to write “Dear Diary” or confess your deepest secrets. This diary is about writing down tasks that you complete each day. It’s similar to your “to-do” list, but this way it accounts for tasks that may interrupt your day, and is actually a list of what you’ve done, not what you need to do.
You may want to write it at the end of the day when you pick your tasks for tomorrow. Or, you may want to keep a notebook open so you can keep adding through the day.
This diary has the benefit of showing you where you spend your time. In many cases when you may feel your week or day hasn’t been productive, simply look back at this diary and be shocked at all you achieved.
Make Your Home Your Favorite Office Ever
Remember, the above suggestions are just that, suggestions. Use some of these as ideas to create a customized plan that fits your day and your needs. Try various ones, and reflect to see which strategies help make you feel more productive. Then celebrate (in your pajamas — you’re not going anywhere)!