Working from home can seem like a dream come true, but in reality, many people who work out of their house feel as though they are not as productive as they would like to be. There are a seemingly endless number of distractions around the house that may pull you away from your work tasks, and you do not have a manager peering over your shoulder to ensure you stay on task. Finding a way to stay focused and eliminate your distractions can help you to remain more productive throughout the work day. Consider these valuable tips for improving your efforts while working from home:
Choose Your Work Hours Carefully
Many people who work from home have the benefit of being able to choose their own work hours, but this does not necessarily mean you should sleep in every morning and work into the evening hours. If your home is like many others, there may be periods of time during the day when your home is quieter than others. Many who work from home are most productive when they spend a few hours working early in the morning before the house becomes active, or later in the evening after the house has gotten quiet again. Spending a few hours in the middle of the day working is also often necessary.
Create a Work Schedule for the Day or Week
One of the best steps that you can take to stay on task is to create a list of to-do items that require your attention. You may prepare your work schedule for the next day at the end of the current business day, or you may even create a full schedule for an entire week. This will give you structured goals to work toward every day.
Put Technology to Work for You
Technology, such as your cell phone and email, can be distracting for you. You may be inclined to turn these items off completely to avoid being distracted while working. This is one option available. Another idea is to use the auto-responder feature on your email and the snooze or mute button on your cell phone to minimize distractions while you are working. Many work at home positions require you to use your phone and Internet, which can quickly lead to scrolling through Facebook or texting with a friend. If possible, it is nice to have separate devices for work and personal life. However, this isn’t always doable. If you need to use the phone or Internet while working at home, only open windows or take calls that are work related. You can even place sticky-note messages on your desk to remind you that distractions kill productivity and to stay away from certain activities.
Plan Your Breaks
Working from home can make you more efficient with home chores. For example, you can take a work break to vacuum the floor or toss a load of laundry into the washing machine, and you simply cannot do that when you work away from your house. However, even these seemingly productive breaks can erode your work productivity. Therefore, carefully plan your work breaks. Stagger the household chores that you need to do on these breaks over the course of a week, rather than attempting to get them all done in one or two days. The professionals of eMerchant Club who offer online home business opportunities suggest that you only take a five or 10 minute break at a time. That way, you can’t get too far off track, but you still give your mind a moment to breathe.
Invest in Noise-Canceling Headphones
Sounds can be distracting in any work environment, and your home is no different. When your family is home, even the sounds of your teenager's radio or your spouse getting ready for work can be distracting. In an empty home, the neighbor's dog barking, delivery trucks passing by or neighbors knocking on the door can pull your attention away from your work. Invest in noise-canceling headphones to prevent these sounds from distracting you, and to help you get in “the zone.”
While there are many benefits associated with working from home, there are also drawbacks. You can minimize the likelihood of decreased productivity when working from home by following some of the tips above. The most important thing is that you find a schedule, setup, and work-from-home method that works best with your personality. You know what kinds of things distract you, and what boosts your productivity or motivation. You are your own worst enemy when working from home, so employ a few special tactics to help you stay on track and get work done.
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