Working from home can be one of modern life’s greatest joys, but home is also full of enticing distractions and bad habits – and without a supervisor keeping an eye on you, you might find yourself slacking off.
Luckily, there are plenty of useful techniques and methods – beyond your own willpower and motivation – that you can use to keep yourself on task and focused.
Give yourself a physical workspace
Some people take “work from home” to mean “work from the couch” – but that’s often a bad idea.
The biggest advantage of remote work is minimising your commute, but you should still have a commute between your living space and your workspace, rather than letting those be the same thing.
Working at spaces you use for everyday life can harm your productivity, cause your work to spill into your personal life, and even interfere with your sleep.
If you dedicate a space to use as your office, though, you can enter “work mode” more easily – and exit it, too, leaving everything behind until the next day.
Upgrade your equipment
It’s hard to work without the tools you need to get the job done right, and if there’s one thing you might be missing at home, it’s the proper equipment.
From your furniture to your paper shredder to your planner, make sure you have everything you need to get your work done as efficiently as possible.
You might even take this opportunity to set yourself up with more health-friendly furniture that your office might not offer, saving yourself from health issues down the line.
Whatever items you’re missing at home, you can easily find them at an office supplier such as Officeworks.
Set a routine for yourself
Even when working from home, it’s important for your productivity – and your sanity – to be able to clock in and out of work.
This means setting a routine – because even if sleeping in every day seems like a good idea at the outset, you won’t be thinking so when your work starts to leak into the late hours of the evening.
The hours of your day should be clearly delineated as “work” time rather than “should be working, but walking the dog and doing the laundry instead” time.
Combined with a dedicated workspace, this helps you focus by giving you an avenue to switch into (and out of) work mode – allowing you to be productive when you need to, and to relax completely when you don’t.
Get control of your sleep
An article unto itself, getting control of your sleep hygiene goes hand-in-hand with setting a healthy routine.
The simple truth, though, is that being well-rested contributes directly to your ability to focus and be productive.
To facilitate this, you’ll want to keep work out of your bedroom (and out of your bed, specifically), which is covered above.
But you should also keep track of your exposure to light. Make sure the lighting you use while working is adequate (this keeps you from straining your eyes, too), and that the lighting you use while unwinding isn’t keeping you awake.
Finally, find natural light early in the day, and often throughout it. Get outside first thing in the morning and you’ll immediately become energised and ready to start your day.
Try some productivity apps
It can be hard to do all of this yourself, and plenty of apps are out there to help make you a more productive worker from home.
Something as simple as a well-put-together task list app can make laying out your whole day a breeze.
Or try some Pomodoro apps, which keep you productive for blocks of time while giving you breaks every now and then.
These are especially great because the breaks allow you to do things like…
Clean up your workspace
Clutter takes away from your productivity, so take some time to clean up your space.
Go through your piles of papers, or better yet, find ways to minimise your paper clutter, such as with filing cabinets or by using whiteboards for notes instead of Post-Its.
Organise your desk and divide the drawers so that everything has a place and you don’t have to dig for several minutes to find what you need.
And if your office really needs a deep cleaning, you might take that as an excuse to…
Do something differently if you’re stuck
The best part of having a routine is breaking from it.
When all else fails, try giving yourself a day off if you’ve been struggling through a bunch of unproductive days in a row.
If you can’t, switch up your workspace. Rearrange your office, clean it up thoroughly, or go somewhere else entirely. Work from a coffee shop or the library for a day.
When you come back to your office, things will hopefully feel fresh and productive once more.