How To Make Working From Home Work For You

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More and more people are beginning to work from home. And it’s not just freelancers and business owners, but large corporations are beginning to get their staff to spend some work days at home.

For a corporation it makes sense. With rising rental rates and improving internet performance, there is actually very little work that cannot be done remotely.

And as a general rule… people produce far better work from their own environment.

When you’re in your own environment then you want to spend time doing the things you want to do, not work. Which means that you actually focus on your work and have a higher output in less time.

So it works for everyone.

Or does it!

Because whilst working from home can be one of the best things that you’ve ever done. When you first start it can also be incredibly tough.

Here’s how to make sure that it works for you…

Distractions

The number one difficulty that people have when they first begin to work from home is the amount of distractions that are around them.

If you go into an office then you would think there is only one thing to do… work.

At home there are lots of things you can do including spend time with your family, take the dog out, home repairs, computer games and pretty much any hobby you ever wanted to do.

When you’ve got all those things to distract you then settling down to get some work done can be tough.

But that’s because you’re thinking about it the wrong way.

First of all if you think there are no distractions at work then you’re wrong. How often do you chat to people in the office, get a drink or have a cigarette?

All of those are distractions.

The difference is when you’re in an office you don’t think of them as distractions because you have to be there anyway. They’re “breaks” from work.

It’s time to change your thinking around when you’re working from home.

Now you have to work to earn a living, but you don’t have to work. There’s probably going to be a tonne of other things you’d rather be doing.

So you need to begin of thinking of work as something that you must do in order to be able to go and enjoy the other things.

And the faster you can do it without a reduction in quality, the more time you will have to do everything else.

Which means…

Focus

When you work from home being able to focus is absolutely key. Any distraction will take your mind off what you’re doing and that means it can take up to ten times longer to complete a task.

Nearly 60% of distractions come from emails, social media and mobile phones.

Every time you read an alert that comes in you lose your focus and it can take up to 15 minutes to re-focus.

If it takes 5 minutes to open, read and reply to your email, then you’ve wasted 20 minutes for every single email that you open!

Now you’re working from home this is twenty minutes you could have spent doing something you wanted to do.

You need to have an action plan to stay focused. Here is what I recommend:

5-Step Focus Action Plan

  1. The night before get a pad of post-it-notes and write down a list of the things that MUST be done the next day. List them in order of importance and once one note is filled then stop. This will force you to focus on the most important things.
  2. Start working as close to waking up as possible. Your brain is most productive when you first wake up, the work you do then will be far more productive than work done later in the day.
  3. Turn off all alerts and your mobile phone. Make sure that there is no way for somebody to communicate with you and distract you. This will mean that your focus won’t be broken by digital alerts. You can call or get back to anybody who’s left a message when you’ve finished going through your list.
  4. Break your tasks down into short segments, ideally no longer than twenty minutes. Doing this feels like you’re achieving your goals which helps to boost your sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
  5. Take a 5 minute break every 20 minutes. Taking shorter breaks after each job is complete allows the mind to relax before beginning the next task.

 

Separate Your Living and Work Spaces

The last element of making sure that working from home will work for you is to separate out the areas that you work in and the areas that you live in.

Using one space for both will only work if you do it occasionally. As a long-term solution you will find that it gets difficult for you to focus and for your family to know when you’re working and when you’re spending time with them.

It doesn’t matter if your work space is a hammock on the back porch or a particular space in a room, as long as everyone knows that when you’re there you mustn’t be disturbed. When you’re not there then you are no longer working.

This separation of your live and work space will, with the above tips, help you to be more productive at home than you are in an office and to do the work you need to do in less time.

In Summary…

Working from home can be one of the best things that you will ever do, if you can make it work for you.

The above advice comes from having worked from home for over 16 years and the lessons learned.

To make it work you need to remove distractions, make sure you focus and have a separate area to work in from the area you live in.

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2 Comments
  • Paul Hardingham
    November 23, 2015

    Fantasic post Michael. As someone who has been working from home full-time as an entpreneur I have definitely had ups and downs but separating work from home environment is a must. I can’t imagine how anyone can sun a serious business from home without being able to shut themselves away from the family distractions.

    I also find it frustrating how friends can sometimes think that because you work from home, it’s not “hard work”. I work a lot longer hours now than when I used to have a job, but at least now every thing I do is my reward and not split with some employer. Not that I’m knocking employment as clearly that’s a great option for most people, but not for some of us who like the independence and freedom of choices.

    Well done again for a great post.

    • Michael Wilding
      November 24, 2015

      Thank you very much Paul. It can be very frustrating when friends and family don’t think you’re working hard because you’re working from home. It can also be difficult to make them realise that you still need to work a normal working day, you can’t be available all day to do things just because you’re at home.