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Tag Archives: productivity

7 Ways to Increase Your Productivity at Home

7 Ways to Increase Productivity Working At Home

When I tell my Baby Boomer (or older) relatives I work from home, I often get a look of pity. The concept is so foreign to them they think “working from home” is a euphemism for being unemployed. 

The conversations usually go like this:

Uncle James: So how’s work these days?

Me: Good, I’m still freelancing from home. It’s keeping me busy!

Uncle James: Well, I’m sure something will come along.

Me: (Smile and shake my head)

The truth is, more and more Americans are working from their humble abodes. By some estimates, over 3 million Americans telework, and this number is on the rise. Don’t tell Uncle James, but the average teleworker is 49 years old and makes nearly $60,000 a year.

Since both my husband and I have done stints in working from home, I’m often asked for advice about how to make the arrangement work. Here are my top seven tips:

Set a Schedule

Whether you are freelancing or working at home for a corporation, a schedule is your best friend. Instead of waking up at 10 (just because you can) or going grocery shopping at 2, dedicate specific hours to work. That way you can work when you are working and be at home during your off hours without thinking you should be filling the other role.

Also, I’ve found even though I could work 8 total hours during whatever time of day I choose, making myself available during at least some traditional hours is much more productive. I can answer emails from my in-office colleagues and take phone calls in real time, instead of responding at 8 p.m. and waiting until 9 a.m. the next day to get a response.

Set the Scene

Sure, you could answer all of your emails in your PJs under your down comforter, but I’ve found I’m much more focused when I’m sitting at my dedicated workspace in our spare room.  Without the distractions of my bedroom (I’ll just read one more chapter of this novel) or the kitchen (what am I making for dinner?), I can focus solely on my work and finish my tasks in less time. It also gives you easier access to the accessories of work; don’t keep your notepads or spreadsheets in every room of the house. That’s a sure way to never escape work. Instead, keep them at your desk where they belong.

Audit Your Communications Skills

Working from home is for people who can communicate well. If you aren’t responsive, don’t like talking on the phone or find it hard to express yourself over email, it is going to be very difficult to stay connected and valued. Since you won’t be able to rely on facial expressions or body language to express your point or fully understand your colleagues, you’re going to have to be honest with yourself: can you stay engaged through other means of communication?

Take a Breather

Just as you might get up from your desk at work to get a drink of water or shoot the breeze with some coworkers, similarly take time to get up from your desk to clear your mind. End the day according to your set schedule (for me it’s 5:30 p.m.) and truly walk away from the work. Don’t keep going back to your desk to do one more task, even though it’s convenient.

When I first started working from home, I thought I had to prove I wasn’t just messing around or doing household chores all day, and I nearly suffered burnout. If you still have anxiety, talk to your boss about how things are going and ask for constructive feedback.

Embrace Technology

While I won’t say working from home will fail without technology, it certainly makes things a lot easier.  Thanks to FaceTime and Skype, I see my editors and colleagues regularly.  My high speed internet is critically important to staying on top of work tasks and allows me to access a virtual personal network (VPN) so I can get on our company’s network and access shared files.  For some colleagues, text messaging or conference calls are the way to communicate.

I’d also recommend investing in a good set of headphones, especially if the kids are home when you are. I put on a little classical music when I need to concentrate and that helps me drown out the noises of the house.

Know Your Distractions

If you just can’t work when the kids are in the house, maybe it’s time to ask the babysitter to take them out for the morning. If the dog barks incessantly because she knows you are home, incorporate an early morning walk to tire her out. If you live within walking distance of a few awesome coffee shops that call your name around 10 a.m., schedule your break around a visit.

My Achilles Heel is household chores. I think to myself: “I could put the load of laundry in and then get started.” Then, after I’ve done that, I think: “I could load the dishwasher and then get started.” Because I’ve recognized these chores as my distractions, I try to do these things in the evening and not leave them for daytime. The distractions of working from home are seemingly endless, and you will need to identify your diversions and deal with them to stay on task.

Face-to-Face Meetings

Just because you scored a job that doesn’t require daily office work does not mean you can abandon the office completely. For my job, I’ve found monthly visits to the office are enough to keep me connected. I also check with the office manager to find out if there are any staff meetings, important client visits or employee celebrations scheduled that month so I can be there. It’s important to remain a part of the culture and community at the office, and face-to-face interactions achieve that.

Don’t get me wrong, working from home can be a dream gig, but you’ve got to approach it professionally and strategically to make it work well. Leave your comments on making teleworking work below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ali Lawrence is a work-from-home content specialist and blogger at Homey Improvements. In her free time, she enjoys cooking healthy meals in her apple-red kitchen and binge reading fantasy books. Find her on Google+ or Twitter @DIYfolks.

About Leslie Truex
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
Connect with Leslie: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google + | Pinterest
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Note: Work-At-Home Success contains advertising as well as screened work-at-home jobs and resources. Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you register or buy using the link. Occasionally, WAHS publishes "Supporting Contributor" posts or paid reviews for which compensation is paid. These posts are marked as such. All opinions are my own. Click here for full details and disclosures.


Plan for a Productive Day

Plan for a Productive Day

It’s a great feeling to work through your to-do list, getting everything done in a timely manner. Being productive isn’t just about getting things done. It’s about getting worthwhile things done efficiently.

However, more often than not, something pops up and interrupts your work, slows you down, and prevents you from feeling productive. It has taken me a long time of trial and error to design my tools and systems that keep me focused and on track with my daily activities. I’ve also had to learn when something is worth interrupting my time and when it’s not.

Here are tips to helping you maximize your time and effort for best results:

1) Use or develop a planner system that works for you. You can buy one at the office store or order specialty ones online. I found though that none really worked the way I do, so I created my own. It shows the entire week because I prefer to see the week over seeing a single day. It also lists all the activities I need to do each day, such as post jobs and an article at WAHS, articles due to clients, and projects I’m working on.

2) Schedule a planning period each week. Many successful people use Sunday night to organize the coming week. I usually do my planning and organizing on Friday afternoons. During this time I look at my goals for the coming week and put tasks on my planner that need to get done. It’s much easier to be productive when you know what you’re working on the minute you sit down. You can only know it if you plan it.

3) Create a schedule and routine for your day. When are you getting up to get to work? What do you work on first. For example, I always work on WAHS tasks first and then move on to client work. Always.

4) Set boundaries around potential interruptions. Don’t check email or social media willy nilly. Set a time to check and deal with email so it’s a part of the day and not something that interrupts your work flow. Do the same with social media. In fact, you might want to use a browser add-on such as LeechBlock (Firefox) or Nanny (Chrome), which will block you from accessing sites for periods of time while you’re supposed to be working. Also, turn the ringer off on your phone or learn to not answer it unless you know it’s from someone important (as in an emergency).

5) Build in breaks. Every hour or two, stop, stretch, get coffee or take a short walk. Movement helps get the blood and creative juices flowing.

6) Delegate the busy work. Consider hiring a virtual assistant to take care of work that needs to be done, but not necessarily by you. Virtual assistants can answer email, do customer service, update websites, schedule social media and more.

Productivity requires a plan and focus. Schedules, routines and to-do lists help with the planning, while setting boundaries helps prevent interruptions that get in the way of focus. Using the six tips above, you should be able to get more done in less time, leaving you more time for personal pursuits.

About Leslie Truex
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
Connect with Leslie: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google + | Pinterest
Sign up for the newsletter below to get more great tools and resources.



Note: Work-At-Home Success contains advertising as well as screened work-at-home jobs and resources. Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you register or buy using the link. Occasionally, WAHS publishes "Supporting Contributor" posts or paid reviews for which compensation is paid. These posts are marked as such. All opinions are my own. Click here for full details and disclosures.