Anyone who spends any amount of their time working from home will know that it comes with pros and cons. On the one hand, there’s no early morning commute, you’re free to blast your most obnoxious music choices as loudly as you like, and you don’t even need to brush your hair if that’s how you roll. On the other, with so much freedom and no communal work atmosphere, just keeping yourself on track can start to feel like a full time job in itself.
So how can you make your home work environment as conducive to effective, efficient work as the office, without losing any of the benefits? Here are some tried and tested tips.
1. Make evening plans
When you don’t have a train to catch home or rush hour traffic to avoid, the incentive to get your tasks for the day finished on time can be low, and procrastination reigns supreme. This is one time when working from home starts to feel like a drag rather than the privilege it is because, when you’d otherwise be finishing for the day, you might end up still working long into the evening.
You’ll read a lot of advice that tells you to be strict with yourself and structure your day - which you should do, by the way - but practically speaking, I find the most effective way to inspire timely completion of jobs is to make plans for the evening. Even something small will do, as long as it’s agreed and in the diary. Nothing cracks the whip like FOMO, so if you’ve got a prior engagement you can bet you’ll be getting on with things in good time.
2. Get dressed
This is possibly the toughest piece of advice for the work-from-home crowd to take, and yet undeniably one of the best ways to psychologically set yourself up for work. Going to the effort of making yourself presentable jump-starts you into work mode, for some reason that doesn’t make very much logical sense but works regardless. Even if you don’t outfit yourself like you would if you were going to the office, I find that putting on something you wouldn’t be too embarrassed to answer the door in works just as well (and is much more realistic).
3. Give yourself chore ‘breaks’
Being at home has a way of reminding you of all the household chores you’ve been meaning to do but never want to when you’ve got free time. The beauty of these little jobs is that they’re perfect for some managed procrastination.
Something I like to do is to take breaks throughout the day specifically for these chores: washing up, hoovering, folding clean clothes, cleaning the fridge… What I find is that my initial interest in doing these things (which would normally be incredibly low, but goes up when I should be doing something else) lasts just long enough for a sufficient break from work, at which point I’m happy to stop scrubbing plates and get back to it.
4. Try a productivity technique
Personally, I’ve always been the type to reject trendy productivity techniques, starting from the days of revising for exams. I’m not sure why I always resisted trying these methods, but recently I have caved and started experimenting with the very popular Pomodoro technique. And honestly? It’s going well. So that’s me shown.
Even if you, like me, are resistant to ‘life-hack’ type things, Pomodoro is really just a way of breaking your day up into manageable chunks, making it easier to concentrate by giving yourself a series of deadlines. Nothing fancy, no complicated lists or meditation breaks, just short bursts of activity that collectively equal a very productive day.