Staying Productive when Working from Home

Working from home sounds like a flexible dream. But running a business from a home office requires discipline and focus if you’re to work industriously.
Many small business owners don’t realise how having a clearly defined home office contributes to their output levels.

Whether that’s creating social media posts, clearing those receipts & invoices weekly, or updating your business plan, your environment can enhance your state of mind and improve your effectiveness and output levels.

Cotswold Colleague - Home working desk

Work Environment

Defining the place you’re going to be working in is the first step towards home working productivity. Knowing you are entering your work zone is key to maintaining your focus. If you are perching on the edge of the kitchen worktop surrounded by dishes, you’re probably not going to be able to find your work mojo.

Having a dedicated workspace brings more focus. Remember Wurzel Gummidge? He had to put on the right head on for the occasion. When you sit on the chair, in front of your desk, you know that it’s time for work and nothing else.
So even if it’s a side-table in the corner of a spare room or living space, keep it as a work-only zone. Don’t allow everyday detritus to gather and clear those coffee cups away at the end of each day!

Ensure you have good lighting, with natural light where possible. You may need to invest in a desk lamp or additional background lamps to illuminate your office space. Poor lighting can reduce your energy,  produce eyestrain, and impair your ability to work effectively.

So how can you minimise distractions?

If you’re able to have a designated office room then just closing the door can filter out any other home noise. Consider noise-cancelling headphones if there’s household or regular noise from the neighbours.

Subtle music or gentle tones at 432Hz playing in the background can aid concentration. There are lots easily found on YouTube and Spotify.
If I’m working on something such as creating social media images, I like to have the radio on and like conversation not music, but if I’m working on a research project or writing a blog then I prefer silence.

Working Hours

Keep to clearly defined working hours. Whether that’s the normal 9-5 or something that better suits your business or family circumstances, knowing when you will be in work-mode will give you focus.

If you’re most productive in the mornings, then be at your desk before the rest of your household stirs. Finding the routine that works for you and those you live with you too – there’s no point trying to concentrate if children have just arrived home from school, demanding attention, and food.

Having a clear working routine and scheduling a timeslot for lunch or coffee will give you a structure to your day. If you’re all over the place, then you won’t have the opportunity to get into the right mental state to get things done.

Are you planning on staying in your pyjamas all day? Your favourite jeans and a hoody maybe your go-to workwear, but getting showered, dressed, and being ready to sit at your desk at the same time, each day will help set your schedule.

Preserve your Boundaries

Make it clear to those around you that you are working so friends and family can resist the urge to distract you. Train your family not to call you during the hours when you’re working. Interruptions can encourage you to procrastinate. You could find a quick call ends up being an hour and before you know it, you’ve lost a chunk of time.

Let your clients know you may always respond immediately. Schedule catch-up calls in your diary or rule out periods when you’ll be available for video meetings or networking. Have control over your calendar so you know when you can be free to chat and your clients know when is the best time fo day to reach you.

Social Media notifications can play havoc with disrupting your chain of thought. Turn off notifications for an hour or put them on silent so you can focus on the task in hand.

Take a break

Sometimes there’s an essential piece of work or an important proposal that you just must get done. But taking regular breaks is important. Working non-stop can contribute to a feeling of overwhelm and you’ll likely to be less productive as the day goes on.

An effective way of reminding yourself to take breaks is to set a timer, either on your phone or use a kitchen timer. The Pomodoro technique is useful and a good way of working in productive blocks with smaller breaks in between.

Don’t stay glued to your screen all day. Taking regular breaks and move away from your desk. You may find that fitting in some movement during your day helps you return feeling more alert and ready to tackle the next task on your to-do list. I usually go out for a dog-walk at lunchtime, to get some fresh air, a change of scene and a quick scroll through social media to catch up.

If you’re looking for more tips, take a look at my guest blog post from FitActive Personal Training on fitting in exercise when you’re running a business.

Working efficiently from a home office has many challenges.

Maintaining focus, managing distractions, keeping a balance between work and home life can be done, but you need to build in a structure that becomes a habit.

Consistency is key to productivity.