According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at-home workers increased by 35% from 2000 to 2010. These workers ranged from people who worked at home just one day a week to people who worked at home full time.
For many of these 13.4 million people, working from home boosts productivity. After all, at-home workers don’t have to deal with nasty commutes, endless meetings, or office drama.
However, working at home can also lower productivity. Many at-home workers have children who interrupt their work schedule throughout the day. At-home workers may also get distracted by household chores, visits and phone calls, and the dreaded refrigerator just a few steps away. Most importantly, though, they may find it difficult to stay motivated without a boss and coworkers constantly checking up on their progress.
But, if you work it right, working from home can be just as productive, if not more productive, than working at an office. Just take a look at these tips.
1. Create a space
Creating a specific space in your home for work – apart from the kitchen, living room, and bedroom – can help you get in the right mindset. Create your own office that’s away from other distractions in the house. Just like an office at work, this area gives you a haven for focus and concentration.
2. Set a schedule
Without a daily work schedule, it’s easy to get caught up in tasks that distract you from work time. “I’ll just run to the store,” you tell yourself-and then, hours later, you haven’t gotten any work done. Make a list of things that you need to accomplish that day, both for work and home. Map out which hours of the day you will spend on your workload.
3. Dress for success
The thought of being able to wear pajamas or sweats every day often motivates many people to work from home. However, a daily dose of wearing sweats will only put you in the relaxing mood and lower your focus and productivity. There’s no need to wear a tie or pants suit, but wear something that tells you it’s time to work, not time to relax.
4. Take breaks
If you work at an office, you need breaks once in a while, and the same goes for working from home. However, sometimes breaks turn into problems when so many things around the house (the TV, for example) can distract you. Give yourself a set break time. It’s okay to do something around the house, but choose chores that you can complete quickly and don’t keep you from getting back to work.
Fortunately, break times can be especially rejuvenating at home. For example, you could walk the dog, get the mail, or do some yoga – options you probably wouldn’t have at the office!
5. Get out
Being cooped up in your house all day could make you stir-crazy. It might give you a little productivity boost to get out of the house once in a while. You could take your work with you to a park or a coffee shop. Fresh air and a change of scenery can do wonders for your mind.
6. Set goals
If you don’t have a supervisor checking up on your progress, you’ll need to be your own boss. Set goals to boost your productivity, and frequently measure your progress. Remember the SMART formula when you set your goals. Make all your goals:
Remember, you can’t always control how many products you sell. But you can set goals such as “Respond to all customer questions within 24 hours,” “Work for 3 hours without distractions,” or “Reach out to 5 different businesses today.”
If you meet your goals or accomplish the items on your list, reward yourself with an extra break or a new decoration for your office.
7. Be accountable to someone
You shouldn’t only be accountable to yourself, but to someone else as well. If you don’t have a supervisor, use a spouse, a coworker, or a friend. Regularly report your progress to them, including what you do to achieve your goals. You might improve your productivity if you know someone else monitors your progress.
8. Set boundaries for kids
Kids often turn into one of the biggest distractions for at-home workers. If full-time parenting matters to you, you might want to reduce your work hours so you can give your kids the attention they need. If you must work full time to pay the bills, you might want to a rrange for a babysitter or daycare for at least part of the day. Your kids may be your top priority, but you also need to work to provide for them.
If you have older, more independent kids, consider placing an open/closed sign on your office door. If the sign reads “open,” your kids will know they can come in and ask questions. If it’s “closed,” they can enter for an emergency only.
When many people think of at-home workers, they picture people in their pajamas lazily lounging on their couches. But this isn’t the reality. At-home workers have many unique challenges, but by using these tips, you can boost productivity and success – and perhaps be even more productive than you would be at the office.