I love working from home! I feel so lucky that I can have a life that includes working in my pajamas! But working from home can be a blessing and a curse. It takes an incredible work ethic to make yourself do your work when other things try to grab your attention.
Here are five common productivity zappers, and what you can do to avoid them during working hours.
1. The refrigerator
This is a big one for me. I’m always hungry! But when I think about it, most of the time restlessness, stress and boredom can cause me to eat when I otherwise wouldn’t be in the mood. Working from home gives you easy access to food whenever you want it, and not only can eating take time away from your work, it can cause you to pack on the pounds.
Designate specific meal times and stick to them. It might also help to plan meals ahead of time as well. Having a great breakfast before starting to work in the morning will help to increase productivity and stamina. Once lunchtime rolls around, take a break from the computer and physically get up and make your lunch and eat it. Sit outside if the weather is nice, or catch up on the mid-day news on TV. But try not to mix food with work. You could get distracted and leave the food to get cold or stale. Or even worse, you could rush and eat it while working and catch a case of heartburn ...
2. The phone
I really should re-read this blog after I post it ☺. The telephone is one of the easiest ways to get distracted. Most of my friends that have regular 9-to-5 jobs will call me on their lunch break just to talk. When I tell them that I’m working, on party invitations, for example, with no hesitation they blow it off because I’m not at someone’s office like they are. This is a difficult dilemma to face, but one that can’t be corrected unless you are firm.
Don’t take non-emergency personal calls until your lunch break or after work. If someone just wants to talk, tell them you’ll be able to call them back after working hours. If it is an emergency, keep the phone conversation brief and have the person give you an update during your break. It might also help to text instead of calling. It gives you the ability to see what the person wants without having to have an entire conversation.
3. The TV
I won’t say that watching TV while working is unproductive. When it starts to be a problem is when the TV takes over your attention. If you’re working on that big party invitation, you want to make sure that you are in tune with the design in front of you at the time. If your focus is on the TV, it can take away from your creative flow.
Don’t expect to really focus on work when your absolute favorite show is airing. If you just like to have the TV on while you work, make it a show that you don’t have to follow intensely. When your favorite show comes on (and if it’s your favorite you should know when it comes on!), write it into your schedule for the day, and make sure that your work is completed before hand.
4. The bed
Sleeping in is one of the best benefits to working at home, but it can also keep you from completing all of your daily tasks. I know the bed is cozy, but make sure that instead of sleeping the day away, you get up and get working as soon as that alarm goes off.
Having a specific time that you wake up is important to maintaining structure in your workday. Set your alarm (and if you’re like me, a second alarm) to go off at the same time each morning. Make sure to check your calendar before going to bed at night to see what morning obligations you may have the next day. Also make sure that you get a good night’s rest; this can help to avoid those sleepy mornings.
5. The house
The dishes need to be washed, the vacuuming needs to be done, my office needs to be organized: All of these things can stare you in the face at the same time as your workload for the day. You might feel guilty if you’re not doing these chores during the day (especially if you have a husband or kids around the house), but there is no need. If you were working in an office building, you wouldn’t feel an obligation to empty the garbage cans or vacuum the hallways, right? Your home is your office, and those around you should respect it as such during business hours.
Here is where scheduling is so important. I’m a Saturday cleaner myself, but if you have to tidy up during the day, you might want to consider doing a nightly straighten up. After your work is finished, go through each room and make sure that stray items are put away and re-organize. That way, you’ll wake up to a clean house the next morning and be ready to work.