Choose very carefully where you are going to work.
- This will determine how productive you can be and how well you can shut off at the end of the day. The ideal place would be a study or a room that could be temporarily converted into one. Even a partition screen to separate your work area from the rest of your home can do the trick. However, wherever possible, you should try not to set up your new office in your bedroom, because if you are going to spend your whole day working where you sleep, you will almost certainly have trouble nodding off. You should also try to ensure that your new office space is not where your family come together when they are all at home to avoid distractions and save the value of family time. Even the room temperature plays an important role: 25°C is ideal to getting the job done.
Create a schedule.
- Just one more minute to empty the dishwasher? Do the washing? Make a doctor’s appointment? Play with the kids? They are all distractions. It’s therefore sensible to have an exact schedule for the day: When do you work? When do you take a break? When does your working day end? Make sure your family knows your schedule. It helps you to maintain your focus and your family know when you are free for them.
Set clear goals.
- When you sit down for work in the morning, make sure you’re clear about what you want and/or have to get done today. Jot down a to-do list or use one of the many productivity tools out there. Make sure you don’t overstretch yourself when setting your goals and stick to your schedule. When working from home, discipline and good planning are the foundations for a productive day.
Dress for success.
- Arguably the biggest perk of working from home is being able to work in your pyjamas or tracksuit trousers. Of course, that’s something everyone can decide for themselves, but the clothing we wear promotes certain emotions. So, dress as you would for the office. That doesn’t mean you have to put on your make up or put on a freshly-ironed shirt every morning, but maintaining behavioural patterns has an effect on most people’s productivity, and that includes getting ready for work in the morning and changing out of the blouse, shirt, skirt and trousers in the evening so it feels like coming home. The clothes you wear not only motivate us to work, but also help us relax.
Try to eliminate all disruptions.
- One of the biggest problems with working from home is becoming distracted. Put your private smartphone away or use one of the many helpful tools available to protect yourself from digital time gobblers. It’s also important to discuss the rules with your family. This will mean you won’t be constantly torn away from what you’re working on and lose your focus.
Communicate with your colleagues.
If a team is spread across a number of locations, good communication is essential. This includes checking in with your colleagues over messenger. A friendly “good morning” or “good bye” is not only nice, but it also tells everyone if you are available or not. This also applies just before starting a break or joining a telephone conference. If you leave your desk, most messenger apps allow you to set a status such as “At lunch” or “In a meeting”, which signal to your colleagues that they may have to wait a bit longer for a reply.
Break means break.
- Most people should know this already. Taking regular breaks means better focus and improved productivity, but many home office workers tend to take fewer breaks and work longer hours as nobody comes by to ask about going to get a coffee, going for a walk or having lunch. Experts recommend taking a break every 90 minutes, so set a timer on your computer and take a break for a few minutes. You’ll feel much more energised over the next 90 minutes.
Maintain social contacts.
- Stay in touch with your colleagues. Regular telephone conferences help to keep up-to-date, find out what colleagues are up to and share ideas. You can even use your webcam so your team get to see you. Virtually at least.
Air the room and let the sun in.
- Natural light and fresh air boost productivity. Make sure your workspace is near a window and make sure that as much daylight as possible falls on your desk.
- This really should be a matter of course, but when working outside of the office, quite a lot of people forget to drink! Make sure you have a full bottle of water on your desk at the start of the day and make sure you drink it! This will keep you fit and help with concentration and small snacks such as nuts and fruit increase productivity.