Use these strategies to ensure your days away from the office are as productive as possible.
- Establish daily “must-do’s”: Approach the workday just as you would if you were going into a company office. Start by having an activity list that prioritizes the most important things you need to accomplish that day. Create the list the night before so you can hit the ground running come morning. Having a good to-do list provides a framework that helps you stay focused and productive.
- Keep regular hours: The upside of adhering to a workday time schedule is similar to that of having a to-do list: Doing so provides structure to your day, which facilitates your ability to accomplish important tasks. Aim to work the normal hours you would if you were going into an office. Of course, it’s OK to take advantage of the flexibility that working at home affords and occasionally tend to personal obligations during work hours, but generally speaking, you should plan to use your set hours for work.
- Have a separate work area: Designate a room or area at your residence as your work zone. When you’re there, you are there to work. Having this area helps put you in a work-oriented frame of mind, enabling you to stay on task better.
- Discipline yourself against distractions: It can be easy to fall prey to distractions. Before you know it, you’ve wasted an hour or two watching videos, checking social media or phone-chatting with friends. An excellent tactic for eliminating such distractions is to pretend you’re in an office with coworkers and a boss. You wouldn’t engage in such activities – certainly not to excess – if you were surrounded by colleagues and a sales manager. Even if you are the boss, you likely wouldn’t want to set an example of slack work practices for your team. Therefore, exert the will to stay on task during established work times. To help do so, some people wear rubber bands around their wrists, snapping them whenever they go off the rails. It helps literally “snap” you back to focus.
- Take a few minutes to relax: While it’s important to avoid distractions, it’s also necessary to take breaks so your brain can recharge and then return to attack tasks with the necessary sharpness. Try scheduling break times into your routine. Consider coordinating breaks with your body’s natural rhythms. For instance, does your energy level typically drop-off come mid-afternoon? If so, then that might be a good time for a short walk. Also, reward yourself with breaks after completing big or important tasks – or when you’ve reached an exasperation point and need a couple minutes to clear your head.
- Make use of tech tools: Leverage technology to stay organized, connected with clients and coworkers, and to ensure you have adequate back-up for your work. Save documents to a cloud storage service so you can access them anywhere. Use Skype or Google+ Hangouts for video calls with clients and colleagues. Invest in a Web-based project management service.
- Dress for success: You wouldn’t show up to the office in your favorite footie pajamas, would you? Well, don’t do it in the home office either. Getting showered and dressed in business casual clothes helps put you in a work mindset. If you’re lounging in sweatpants, you’ll be more inclined to loaf.