The ability to work from home can afford the most flexible of working arrangements, but it can also create an unhealthy tension within your work-life balance. This tension can get in the way of operating at your maximum productivity. Here are six ways you can ensure you stay productive all day when you work from home.
1. Create a Physical Work Space
Making a physical space that is for work and work alone is important to help you mentally separate your work mode from your home mode.
If you can, cordoning off an entire room—one with a closing door—is ideal when making a home office, but for those of us who are short on space, having a desk that is used only for working is important to creating the mental shift into work mode. You can separate this area with a screen or a curtain as well.
When making your work space, put everything you need within reach. If you have to get up to grab materials, paper, highlighters, your phone, etc., you risk breaking your mental workflow.
2. Remove Visual Distractions
Make sure that your working space is kept away from the distraction of dirty dishes or laundry waiting to be done. Keep the TV out of sight, don’t leave household bills on your desk. Those should be kept elsewhere to help you create the mental space for your professional work.
If you tend to take digital digressions and get lost on the internet, try installing a website blocker on your computer that will prevent you from accessing distracting sites like Facebook and Twitter during the workday.
3. Schedule Your Workday
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to work all the time. Set a regular schedule for your workday, even if that’s not the normal 9–5. By creating regular working hours, you risk losing time to domestic obligations and chores, like laundry, dishes, or general cleaning.
To further put yourself in working mode, create a morning routine. Make coffee, take the dog out, read or listen to the news, and dress for work (no need for full suit and tie, though). This will all help you create the mental space for good work.
4. Get Rid of the Noise
If other members of your household will be around for the day, ask them to give you plenty of space and quiet to get your work done.
If you don’t have an office with a closing door, you can use a white noise app or music to help drown out distracting noise.
5. Take Breaks Every Hour or So
Don’t forget to give yourself a break. A good rule of thumb is taking a roughly 10–15 minute break for every hour to hour and half of working time. There is evidence that breaking like this can actually help you stay productive throughout your day.
During your breaks, avoid taking on household tasks, and instead leave those for the hours outside your set working day. Use this time to refill your coffee, take the dog for a walk, do a few jumping jacks, or to rest your eyes.
6. Put Your Work Away
When the work is done. Put it away. Don’t let professional obligations bleed too heavily into your home life. You might even consider stepping out of the house after you finish work but before you resume normal domestic life. Go for a run, meet a friend for coffee or a drink, run some errands. For those who have a normal workday commute, that time is often used to decompress and draw a mental line between work and home, and those who work from home will need the same distinction.
About the Author: Matilda Davies is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She writes about health and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and walking her dogs.