Whether you work from home on a regular basis or occasionally, you may be struggling to stay focused and not become distracted by all the appliances and potential distractions available in your home.
Working from home can be an extremely positive experience and exercise; you avoid commuter hours and save money on not going out to work. You will also have all your home comforts around you and can usually work to your own timetable.
For many contractors and freelancers, including those who are employed by an umbrella company, working from home is the modern way in which to go about your work. Many employers do not require contract workers to necessarily work from their offices and so many choose to lead a more flexible lifestyle, working from home.
Working from home can sometimes blur the lines between work and your personal life, so it is important to make sure these remain as separate as possible for the most productive working days possible, and nice relaxing evenings and weekends.
It can also be hard to avoid regularly checking social media when at home, since no one its monitoring you and your work during the workday. You should save this for your own time, which will further separate your work life from your home life.
Being aware of some of the best-known and most widely accepted tips on how to best stay productive when you are working from home can make all the difference to your work as well as your work life balance.
Define your Work Space at Home
If possible, have a room dedicated to working; having an office or study is always a good idea. You should avoid working from other areas of your home. One of the worst things you can do is think that working from home is an excuse to have a ‘duvet day’ every day or simply to lounge in front of the TV refreshing your emails.
If you do not have enough rooms in your home to create an office, try and set aside some space which is dedicated to your working hours, such as a desk in a certain spot which you don’t use for much, if anything else.
Having a separate, dedicated space when working as a sole trader, freelancer or contractor, will help your mind to associate that with work rather than your home life in general which may lead to you skewing the boundaries between work and home life.
Declutter your Work Space
You need to try and keep the area which you have designated for work tidy, decluttered and clean. Having a cluttered space will not boost your productivity at all and is likely to hinder your capacity to work effectively.
Also, consider getting a good chair which will increase your comfort and a sturdy desk upon which you can conduct your work. If your chair is not supporting you, it can be tempting to move to the sofa or your favourite arm chair which is unlikely to prove constructive.
Set Regular Working Hours
If you do not work for another person or company which sets your hours, you will need to do this yourself in order to stay motivated and be as productive as possible.
If you have freedom in this regard, work out when you are more productive. Many people choose to stick to the traditional hours of work of 9am – 5pm so that they are not ‘out of sync’ with their friends or family, who are likely to be working similar hours.
When working for a contractor umbrella company, you will be required to send your umbrella employer your timesheet. This will then be sent to the agency who placed you in the role and this will be checked against the timesheet of your client, the ultimate employer of your services.
The agency will need to invoice the end client for the hours you have worked so keep in mind that you should keep track of the hours you work.
Whilst many clients may not mind when you conduct your work activities, so long as the work is completed, daytime hours tend to be preferable for traditional job roles. Furthermore, you should be aware of the Working Time Directorate and how, if at all this may affect your working hours with certain employers.
Get Dressed for the Day Ahead
It may be tempting, but you should aim to get up and be ready as you typically would if you were employed in the traditional sense every day.
Try and have breakfast in the morning to start your days off as normally as possible. This will make you feel fresh and ready to take on the day, whereas staying in your pyjamas will only make you feel groggy and want to crawl back into bed, making you less productive and harming the work you do.
Allow Yourself to Have Breaks
Avoid staying locked in your working environment for every waking hour. For each hour of work, try to give yourself a 15 – 30 minute break (depending on how busy you are and the work you do). This will give your mind time to digest what you have just done. Undertaking these practices are likely to improve the quality and efficiency of the work you complete.
It is important to take a lunch break, just as you would in an office. If you do not allow yourself time for a decent lunch, this can seriously decrease your productivity as you will not be in a good mood and you will be constantly thinking about food rather than work.
Furthermore, you should know when to stop. Unless you have set those hours, do not work late into the night. Stay within your hours (give or take an hour or two should you need it). You do not want your work to take over your personal and your home life.
Switch up Your Home Work Environment
If you find it hard to stay focussed at home all the time, why try and give yourself a change of scenery. You could go down to your local café, connect to their Wi-Fi and treat yourself to whatever you want from the shop.
The buzz of having others around you can help to keep your productive. In addition, you won’t have the external distractions of things like your TV around you.
You could also try places like libraries or public lounges, anywhere with Wi-Fi and space for you to carry out your work.