How to Work Productively From Home

Elizabeth Reyn

At SmartSites, we are sometimes faced with scenarios which cause us to have to work from home. Maybe it’s a problem with the internet or the electricity that causes the power to go down. In other instances, we work from home when we’re feeling sick and do not want to infect the office.

Working from home seems initially like the much easier alternative. What could be better than getting paid to sit up in bed in your pajamas while looking over the spreadsheets that your boss sent you. You know you have a time limit on the tasks, but it helps knowing you don’t have to hear him/her reminding you over your shoulder.

As great as handling business is from the comfort of your couch, it is also a potential cautionary tale, especially for those who are not, shall we say, intrinsically productive. That TV in the corner of the room becomes even more tempting knowing that you have work to do. That sunkissed deck beckons you to join in the warmth. Those spreadsheets will finish themselves eventually right?

Nice try, but not so much.

It is important to make working from home as productive as you possibly can and not let the distractions of familiarity hinder your concentration. Here are some tips to help:

Go to a Peaceful Place

No, not an ashram per se, but a place of concentration and dedication to something important. While staying in a space where you normally put your feet up to read can be cozy, that type of comfort can also lead to laziness. If you choose to stay in your place of residence, try moving to a different room, preferably one with limited sunlight and distraction.

Do Something Productive on Break

Much like if you are in your office, you wouldn’t watch Netflix on your break. You also wouldn’t leave for three hours at a time to go catch a movie at the local theater. Treat your break time as if you were in the office. If you go out for lunch, come back at a reasonable hour. If you normally spend a few minutes outside continue to do so. Changing your normal routine could be a distraction that hinders productive work time.

Don’t Multitask

Definitely don’t give in to the temptation of the TV. Game of Thrones and Mad Men can be  caught up on at the end of the normal workday after you shut off your computer. Don’t be working on your novel while doing research for work. Don’t read long chapters of your book when you’re supposed to be answering client emails. Even cooking lunch might not be safe-you’ll either neglect the work or neglect what’s on the stove. In all of these instances,  distractions get in the way of the work getting done. Put everything away and do them after work.

Kick Everyone Out

Do you have a roommate who is constantly popping into your room to ask you questions? What about a friend who calls you or sends you messages all the time knowing that since you’re at home, they can reach you faster. Try not to cave into this. In order to have full concentration on your work, you need to kick people out of your space and brain to make room for the work that you’re about to do.

Do Not Go Back to Sleep

This one might actually be worse than the TV. Your thinking may be, but I don’t really have to get up early. My boss will never know. This is not necessarily true. Going back  to sleep encourages lazy behavior and there’s no guarantee you will be any more productive with the extra twenty minutes. Even with a boss that doesn’t micromanage your every move, they can assess how much work was done for the day. It would be better for your work and your boss’s overall satisfaction is you just get up and do your work during normal hours. Besides, the earlier you get your work done, the earlier you will free up your schedule.