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7 Tips for Productively Working from Home

7 Tips for Productively Working from Home

    There are a lot of benefits of working from home, from being able to see more of your kids to a flexible schedule and more.  But it’s also very dangerous if you’re easily lured in by procrastination and the numerous distractions that can present themselves and hamper your work and productivity.  If you’re going to work from home, be it a day here or there, or full-time, you’ll want to plan it out.  Here are some tips for successfully working from home:

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    1. Make yourself an office, or at least a work “station” area. This will be the spot that you do your work.  If you don’t have a room that you can turn into a home office, you can set up shop at the kitchen table, although this is not ideal.  Taking your laptop and plopping down on the couch in front of the television will present many temptations.  You’ll want to make sure that your home office has everything that you need, and that may even mean getting an extra phoneline, be it a landline or a Skype account where you can be contacted at.  Invest in a good desk, chair, and computer so you’ll be comfortable working, but not so comfortable that you’ll be tempted to slack-off.
    2. Try to set aside long periods of time for work. Working from home can give you much more flexible hours, but if you’re constantly interupted it’s going to be a lot harder to get things done.  Try to make sure you get a few large blocks of time.  For example, if you need to get in 8 hours of work, make 3 blocks of 3 hours, 2 hours, and another 3 hours.  If you need to run errands or take care of other things, do them outside of the blocks of time during your “breaks.”
    3. Try to leave the house each day. Nothing will drive you crazier faster than being at home 24/7.  It’s a great opportunity to go for a walk outside, clear your head, and get your bearings.
    4. Create a to-do list for the tasks you need to accomplish each day. Because it is so easy to get off task while working from home, having a checklist of the things you need to get done will help you visualize your progress.  I’m not typically a list person, but I have found this to be very helpful, and when I’m slacking off it’s clearly visible by the lack of things checked off.
    5. Minimize distractions and set limits online. If the bulk of your work is done on a computer, you probably know all to well the distractions of the internet.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of Facebook or other sites if you keep it open on one of your browser tabs all day.  Allow yourself to check in before you start your work and on breaks only.  When it’s work time, close any non-work related tabs and websites. If you keep Facebook open, you will undoubtedly keep flipping back to it to see if there’s anything new posted.
    6. Don’t procrastinate.  Look at your to-do list and actually do everything on it.  Don’t do 90 percent of it and tell yourself that you’ll just make it up and do it tomorrow.  You’ll create a cycle of constantly pushing things off to another day that is very hard to get out of.  There will be days when an emergency interrupts your work, as there would be if you were going into the office each day. If you’re already behind it can really put you back further.
    7. Take care of yourself. Make sure you eat a good breakfast so you don’t have to stop working when the hunger pangs kick in, and schedule yourself a reasonable lunch break.  Some also find it helpful to dress as if they were going to work.  It’s not necessary to put on a suit, but something more than sweatpants and a tshirt might help you feel more on-task. Schedule a lunch date to maintain social connections outside of your home.

    Working from home takes discipline.  If you’re just starting out, it may take you a little time to find your groove, but if you follow the tips above you’ll find it a lot easier.  The key is to keep a good work-life balance, establish boundaries, and take care of yourself.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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