Are you a “Work From Home” employee? It’s becoming increasingly more common, particularly in the tech industry. When you’re a developer or programmer, it really helps to be in your own cozy environment when you’ve got to put in a strong level of detail and long hours of focus.
But for some, working out of your house is just moving out of the frying pan and into the fire. Instead of having people knocking on the door and customers stopping in, your performance isn’t being monitored as keenly… which means you can get lazy.
You know what I’m talking about. You may be reading this article right now, procrastinating from your workload. So how do you stay focused when there’s nobody watching what you’re doing?
1. Set Time Limits On Your Tasks
When you work out of home, you’ve suddenly got 24 hours a day to get everything done instead of your usual nine-to-five. This is a double edged sword; you’ve got more time to get things done, but at the same time, it makes you feel like you can procrastinate and still get things done.
… And then you realise you’ve spent your entire day skimming your Facebook feed. Whoops. How’s that deadline looking?
What you need to do is set a time limit for every task. This is a really great way to remind you that time is finite, and make sure you don’t get caught up performing one task (usually your favorite).
Two great ways of doing is dedicating chunks of your day to certain tasks. For instance, two hours of coding, one hour of report writing, etc. If you want to get even tighter, break them down into specific tasks and projects.
A second trick is to set a timer. You don’t need to use an egg timer; your phone or computer will work just as well. Sometimes a loud buzzing noise will snap you out of that timeless reverie.
2. Even Offsite, Get Dressed for Work!
This one is a good trick, speaking from personal experience. Sure, you could sit in your PJs all day—seems like half the fun, right? But a lot of the time, the way you dress impacts how you feel. (It’s why some people dress attractively to feel confident). It’s the same with work. If you dress like you’re at work, you’ll feel like you’re at work… and act accordingly.
The same goes for dressing casually. This is why if you’re an office employee, it can sometimes be refreshing to immediately get out of your work clothes whenever you get home.
3. Clearly Set Time For “Work Hours”
Any spouse of a work-at-home employee will tell you this is a must. You don’t want work time bleeding into your personal time and vice-versa. Failing to do this isn’t just bad for your work as personal time takes up your work time, it can also wreak havoc on your home life.
The answer? Set boundaries. Put down those rules so you keep 100% focused during your work time, instead of just 20% focused over the entire day.
4. Take Breaks
There’s a reason you have them at work. The same rules apply even if you’re in a different environment. It’s easy to get engulfed in a project and just fail to take the time you need. That’s how you get a one-way ticket to being burned out.
Take a nap. Walk outside. Do some physical exercise. Anything that gets you away from that desk. Your work will benefit from the short break, and so will you.
5. Dotpoint Your Tasks
Good advice for office work, but even better advice when you’re working out of home. A dotpoint list helps you categorize and identify what needs to be done, and order those items by priority.
Not only does this make sure things don’t get missed, there’s two other big advantages. Ticking off your list gives you a massive sense of accomplishment, so every time you look at your list you see your progress. Second, it keeps a nifty record of all your completed tasks so when it comes to your performance review, all you’ve got to do is flick back through them to know what you spent your year doing.
And Don’t Forget to Back Up Your Work!
If you’re working out of home, there’s nothing worse than losing all your work. When your boss asks what you did all day, there’s no visual evidence to prove you weren’t twiddling your thumbs. That’s why it’s more important for you than office employees to never lose your progress.
If you don’t have infrastructure in place already, we suggest having offsite backups set up for your home office. This way even if your home computer were to suddenly burn down (E.g. kids, pets, coffee spills…) you’re not behind on your work because of it. Check out BackupAssist to learn more about effective offsite backups.