So you work from home—or you want to. It’s a great way to bring balance to your life and make time for the things that are important to you. Whether you want more time for your family, friends, a hobby or just downtime to decompress, working from home and ditching that long commute can help. But it can be easy to get distracted when you work from home, so learning how to work more efficiently is critical to your work-from-home success.
Here are 10 tips for working from home efficiently, so you can have some more time for yourself.
1. Stop multitasking.
Everyone thinks they’re good at it—I can read this email while I’m listening to a conference call, no problem!—but dividing your attention means you’re not really paying attention to either activity. Better to focus on one thing at a time, cross it off your list and move on.
2. Remove as many distractions as possible.
Sometimes your office doubles as your gym or your craft room, and it’s easy to get distracted thinking about how much you need to exercise this week or when you’re going to start that new project. Stop it! Put a screen up to cover your recumbent bike, cover your project table, do whatever you need to so distractions are out of sight and out of mind.
3. Speaking of distractions—establish boundaries around work time and personal time.
Family and friends may think it’s okay to drop by when you’re working—you’re home, right? Make it clear that when you are working from home, you are still responsible for getting work done and must limit distractions.
4. Make sure your office is set up for maximum productivity.
It may be nice to get up and stretch your legs every time you get something from the printer—but if you need to refer to printed documents in every interaction, which can waste valuable time. Put the things you use most close to your desk—your printer, a small stash of extra paper and pens and whatever else is essential when you’re working.
5. Make the most of technology.
There are so many programs, apps, and tools available to make it faster and easier to cross tasks off your to-do list. Use those tools to your advantage, setting timers or taking advantage of reminders to be sure you accomplish everything on your list.
6. But beware of technology distractions.
There are so many things you can do with Internet access—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Shutterfly, Reddit, etc. The time you spend “screen sucking” during work hours translates into more time you’ll need to work … when you should be done for the day. Occasional checks are okay, but use a timer to be sure an hour hasn’t passed without you noticing.
7. Take regular breaks.
Even if it’s just to walk to the kitchen to refresh your coffee or check the mailbox, a change of scenery can greatly improve your ability to focus and concentrate. Just a few minutes of thinking about something other than work can help you reenergize.
8. Schedule appointments and personal activities at the beginning or end of the day, whenever possible.
Treat your workday as you would if you were working in an office. It’s more efficient to go to the dentist first thing and work a little later to make up the time than to stop your flow in the middle of the morning, go to your appointment, and have to refocus when you get back to your desk.
9. Use your willpower!
It can be difficult to work from home when you’re surrounded by chores you could do and hobbies or activities you enjoy. Set boundaries for yourself, too, to make sure you aren’t folding laundry, scrapbooking or trying to finish that overdue library book when you should be talking to a customer.
10. Spend time at the end of your work day to prepare for tomorrow.
Make your to-do list, plan your calendar, and prepare what you can so you can hit the ground running. It will make the beginning of your day go much more smoothly and be less stressful.
Working from home is wonderful in so many ways. One of those ways is controlling your schedule, and you can do that better when you learn how to work more efficiently. Give these ideas a try and let me know what you think of these tips for working from home. What will you do with the time you’ll save by working more efficiently?