The Wall Street Journal provided me questions to answer for an article they were writing about productivity while working from home. They wound up using a few of my answers in their article. I thought I’d share with you all of the answers and recommendations I’d given to them.
– What are the biggest obstacles people face while working out of the office or while working from home?
Even though it sounds freeing to work out of the office or from home, one of the biggest challenges my clients have with this is not having structure in the day. Without some type of plan – and without sets of eyes on them to cause the paranoid thought that they must always be working on something because somebody might be watching – they work less efficiently.
– Why can working from home feel so full of procrastination?
There are more interruptions in an office full of people, but there tend to be more distractions at home. Unless you have a designated work space that contains only work-related items, you might get distracted each time you look up at an object or area in your house and get reminded about tasks that you need to complete in your personal life. This can lead to a halt in work, which feels like procrastination. Or, if you act on the impulse to complete the task while you’re thinking about it, that can feel like you’re procrastinating because you’re putting off work.
– Why can working from home actually be more productive than working in a traditional environment?
The number one benefit of working from home is that you’re not interrupted by co-workers or supervisors stopping by your desk. Some of my clients lose over an hour each day from these types of interruptions. If you work from home – and if you’ve set expectations with fellow humans who might be home at the same time – you have the benefit of more uninterrupted time.
A second major benefit of working from home is gaining back time from not having to commute. This gives you more time in the day to complete tasks you otherwise wouldn’t have time for if you had to commute.
– What are your 3-5 best hacks/tips/tricks to maximizing productivity while working from home? – How can people best utilize these tips?
- Set your work hours. Whether this is one long stretch or broken up into chunks throughout the day or evening, you’ve just told your brain when you’re going to concentrate on work. Even the most creative people thrive with some kind of structure.
- Share your work hours with your co-habitants. If your roommate, significant other or kids are at home when you’re working, it’s important to share your work hours with them and define what types of emergencies you can be interrupted about. “I forgot to ask you earlier for $20” isn’t an emergency, whereas, “I think I have food poisoning” is.
- Determine your 3 + 3 at the beginning of each day. Choose your top three priorities that absolutely must get finished, and work on those as early in the day as possible before fires – or opportunities! – come your way. Your “+3” is your bonus plan in case you finish early and can move on to your next layer of priorities. Or it’s your back-up plan in case humans or technology throw a wrench into your plans. You can throw a quick tantrum, then get re-focused faster on knocking out priorities – instead of chasing low-hanging fruit because your brain can’t concentrate without a plan when you’re irritated.
- Take advantage of working at home. Enjoy the blessing of not having to commute. Instead of using that extra time to work more, recharge your productivity by taking a mid-day break and having fun. Do something that you wouldn’t be able to do in an office – like take your dog for a quick walk, plop down on a cushion and meditate, or rock out to your favorite song. Contrary to popular belief, we do not get more done by working longer. We are far more productive when we take breaks.
If you implement these strategies and tactics on a daily basis, you’ll experience increased productivity while working from home!