I’ve been running a business from a home office for the past 4 years. While there are distractions looming around every corner (i.e. laundry, dishes, Facebook, the dog etc.), it is important to create a routine and tools for yourself so that you can be productive — or at the very least — feel productive at the end of the day. Here are a few of my tips and tricks.
Set yourself up with office hours and do your very best to stick with them. Once you get yourself into a rhythm where you are performing at your best each day, you will find yourself being very productive, and more proactive than reactive. For example, if you are most alert in the mornings, schedule yourself to do the bigger tasks then when you are at optimal thinking levels. Use the afternoon to do tasks which don’t require a lot of brain power like checking email or reading notes.
TIP: Schedule all the meetings, breaks, downtime, travel time, research time, email time, quitting time, etc. It’s your schedule — tweak it and rearrange it until it’s at the optimal setup for how you perform during the day. I use Google calendar religiously for this.
If you’re like me and get easily distracted, I’ve found when I use a timer, it keeps me on track. One of my favorites is the Pomodoro Timer. You can download this app for your Android or iOS smartphone. Research says we should work in short increments so that we can perform at our best, with breaks in-between to give our brain a chance to re-charge. Set the app to your desired time [20 mins, 25 mins, up to 45 mins] and when it’s over, a bell rings (which for me is a satisfying sound) and gives you an option to take a short or long break. I HIGHLY recommend checking this out.
TIP: The version I use is Pomodoro Time Lite by Tatkov Lab — Google Play store.
If you happen to have a door to your office — use it. Don’t apologize, don’t agonize, just utilize. I promise it’s a lifesaver.
TIP: When you are done for the day, close the door behind you so that you are not distracted and feel the need to go back in.
AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER:
If you work from a home office or a remote location and you miss the “connection” of being around other people, but don’t miss the office drama or politics, there is this fabulous online group which will keep you accountable and give you the co-worker experience without distractions. It’s called Focusmate and I recommend it highly. This online group is free to join and has a great accountability system built into the format.
TIP: It’s a serious community of people who are focused for 50 minutes at a time to get work done (ah look the “timer method again”). Don’t join if you want to chat, if you are flakey, late or just don’t show up because they have strict guidelines to be part of the community.
It all comes down to communication. Be in communication with yourself when you set a meeting, or a priority for yourself. Keep it. Don’t let the little voice distract you from doing the work. When you have people at home, let them know when the door is closed, you aren’t to be disturbed. Also, if you are about to jump on a call, let people know you will be unavailable, to minimize interruptions.
TIP: The more you communicate and set boundaries for you, your staff and the household, the more productive your days will be.