There are many reasons why working from home can be awesome. No commuting in rush hour traffic, flexible hours (if you find the right gig), your family is right outside the door. But those same reasons can be some of the most difficult obstacles to overcome.
For the past two years I’ve been working remotely from my home office. And now as I quit my safe and secure full-time job to venture into the craziness of building a startup, I’d like to share a few tips I’ve picked up that help me get work done in a world of distractions.
Close all non-relevant browser tabs
Let’s face it, if you’re working from home you’re most likely on the computer all day. It’s what makes your job possible to do from the comfort of wherever you choose to be that day. And in this age of instant connectivity, those distracting websites are just a click away.
So make the conscious effort to only have relevant browser tabs open. Remove social networks from your bookmarks bar. It’s way to easy to click when they’re staring at you, tempting you. If you need help, there are plenty of browser extensions to help you out like StayFocusd for Chrome and LeechBlock for Firefox.
Have a dedicated office space
One of the main perks of working from home is having the choice to work anywhere. However, dedicating your office space only to work (and actually having a dedicated office space) can help cut down on the time it takes for you to settle in.
In the same way that reserving your bed for sleep and sex helps your mind and body to wind down for a more peaceful sleep, having a dedicated office space reserved for work helps your mind to know you mean business when you sit down.
Change your surroundings
Yes, this directly contradicts the previous point, but I find that changing my surroundings can help get me back into the swing of things. A new perspective, a different room, being outside keeps my work environment fresh. This is one of the top things I love about working from home. Why have the freedom to work anywhere if you’re not going to use that freedom?
Let others know you’re working
Just because you haven’t left the house doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be considered “at work”. A big misconception by friends and family when my wife and I were expecting a baby is that since I work from home I could care for our daughter during daytime hours.
Yes, one of the benefits of working from home is being able to see your daughter’s first steps or give your wife a break so she can shower. But constant distractions and interruptions are detrimental to productivity.
When you head to your office, act like you’re not working at home. Have a signal, for example closing the door, to let others know you’re in work mode and shouldn’t be distracted. If they complain just remind them you could be out of the house for 8 hours a day and be completely unavailable to help. Don’t let them (or you) take advantage of that.
Get out of the house
Without some sort of social interaction or outside activity, you’re likely to burn out faster. Give your brain a chance to breathe. Go for a walk, meet some friends for lunch, or even just read a book. Your brain will thank you, and you’ll be ready to face the challenges that await your return.
Love what you do
This isn’t so much a productivity tip as it is a life tip. When it comes down to it, if you don’t love what you do there’s no amount of helpful hints that will keep you motivated.
If at any time you don’t enjoy what you do, it may be time to think about a new direction.