Guest post by Matilda Davies
More and more Americans are working from home. It’s estimated that nearly 4 million Americans work from their homes, and that number is expected to increase over the coming years as more and more companies offer flexible options to employees who care for families and for their remote employees. You might even work from home a few days a week.
I’ve been working from home for nearly three years now, and I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. Here are my five top tips for ensuring productivity when working from home.
1. Create an office
Having a physical space where you can close yourself off and focus is key to staying productive when working from home—and productivity and management experts say that a physical space is necessary to staying on task. I keep a home office where the only thing I do is work. It’s not for paying bills or watching TV or reading or free time. It’s only for getting work done. If space is limited, create a desk area that’s for work only. Consider facing it away from the rest of the room or out a window to remove household distractions.
2. Get rid of distractions
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get pulled away by laundry and dishes and cleaning; but if you can remove these distractions by closing the door or facing away from the room while you work, that can help remove the distractions.
Distractions can also be things like the dog who needs to go out, the papers you can’t find, the street noise bleeding in from outside. Before you begin your workday, tend to the dog, make sure you have everything you need at your desk, and soundproof your office by playing music or getting a noise machine.
3. Play music out loud
One of the luxuries of working from home is that you have no one to interrupt! I love to play a classic jazz playlist while I’m working. This is just a nice perk of working from home that also helps me focus while I’m on the job (and can block out unwanted street noise). If music is too distracting, you might try a white noise machine or white noise app to help you zoom in on your work.
4. Set working hours
Even if you don’t work the traditional nine to five, set rough working hours. This will help ensure that you’re not working all the time (which is an easy trap to fall into when you work from home) and will give you the time to take on those domestic chores, like laundry and dishes and cleaning, that can pull you away from your work and interrupt your flow.
5. Take breaks
Because there are not always the normal natural distractions of office life—chatting with coworkers, stepping out for a coffee, etc.—it can be difficult to remember to take breaks. Experts say that taking regular breaks can actually increase productivity and help you focus for longer periods of time. Generally, you should be taking a 15-minute break every 50–60 minutes.
Matilda Davies lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she writes about great homes, health, and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and walking her dogs. Check out her website here.