Working from home or telecommuting is sometimes not the nirvana that most people picture in their heads. Yes, you have the freedom to work in your pajamas, and your daily commute routine takes a whopping 30 seconds from your bed to your work table- but that’s about it. You still have to battle distractions, productivity, hardware issues, pesky family members, and low productivity all by yourself. That doesn’t sound much fun now, does it?
Go to Work Like You Mean It
And this means dressing for the part, even if you’re working just right out of your kitchen. Wear pants, put on a nice top or a button-down shirt, clear your table of stuff that is unrelated to your job. This is the reason why some telecommuters often have a dedicated “office” or workspace inside their house that is separated from the rest of the living areas. This gets them in the “zone,” like how you would feel when you’re working in a real office and you don’t have any domestic chores to think about.
Sticking to a strictly scheduled routine is also very helpful in the long run. While telecommuting gives people the freedom to work whenever they want, the lack of day-to-day structure can be very detrimental. Make sure that you set aside your “office hours” for the day, and don’t let your work interfere with the time that you should be spending on your home and your family.
For Creativity, Try Timeboxing
Let’s face it- you’re not a robot. There’s no possible way that your brain can handle hours of work on end without break, especially so when you’re multitasking. This is one of the main premises behind the concept of timeboxing, a productivity method practiced by a lot of freelancers.
The concept behind timeboxing is simple enough to grasp: your daily work hours are divided into “boxes” with breaks in between. You are to work non-stop during these boxes, which are often not more than 30 to 40 minutes in length.
One of the most popular timeboxing systems is the Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo. This method involves dividing work time into twenty five minute “pomodoros” or time periods, followed by a five minute break. A longer break of fifteen to twenty minutes can then be taken after four successful unbroken pomodoros. This kind of productivity system is perfect for those with short attention spans.
You need to develop an awareness of how you use your time throughout your work day. You can either do this by hand (e.g. having an hourly log journal wherein you can write whatever it is that you’re working on in a particular hour) or through digital means by time tracking software like DeskTime or TimeCamp.
Get Outside Your Home
When you have to work from home, you really don’t have to confine yourself inside your home. A change of scenery can spark creativity. So if you find yourself in a rut, try hauling your laptop off to a library, cafe, or restaurant.