Whenever I tell people I work from home a few days a week, I almost always get, “Wow! You are so lucky.” immediately followed by, “Now really, do you actually get work done at home?” I always laugh at that question because, of course I do! If I didn’t, I’m pretty sure my employer wouldn’t let me spend 20 hours a week putzing around in my house just for funsies. In fact, I actually think I’m much more productive and efficient at home versus in the office. Imagine how much more you could get done in a day if there was no water cooler talk, no meetings, no trips to the coffee pot and no need to go out to lunch. The office culture soaks up so much productivity time!
That being said, being productive at home does require a routine for me. I know some people think working from home means lounging on the couch in your jammies with a laptop, but for me, that method just doesn’t work. I need the same structure and rigidity of the work place to make sure I get things accomplished. Here are a few of the ways I’ve figured out to be productive at home.
I know, I know. Part of the stereotypical perk of working from home is staying in your jammies, but for me, it just doesn’t work. There is something about the act of getting dressed that actually switches my brain into productivity mode. Normally what I’ll do is check and answer my email for about an hour in the morning while drinking my coffee, but as soon as my coffee is done, it’s time to “get ready”. It’s not like I go and put on a party dress and stilettos, but I do put on some (slightly) more respectable clothes. Usually I just change out of my jammies, put on some lounge pants (black, because they’re classier, eh?), a real bra and a clean t-shirt. I’ll wash my face and brush my hair and teeth. It isn’t much of a visual difference, but it’s a huge mental difference. I’m ready to go once I’m in my work “uniform”.
Having an office.
I’m a big laptop girl, so I never understood why people had offices in their house. The couch is my office! But then I started working from home and quickly realized that you need that special space to really kick yourself into work mode. Not only does it help to get me in the right frame-of-mind in the morning, but it also helps me literally and figuratively close the door on the workday in the evening. Working from home is a really slippery slope when it comes to work/life balance, and I think having an actual office space helps me keep that balance.
Scheduling my time.
The fact that you can take a break and make lunch, put a load of laundry in the dryer or run a quick errand while working from home is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I don’t have to worry if the cable guy comes closer to 8am or 6pm in the service window. I also don’t have to wait until the weekend to get all my errands and chores done. It’s a curse because it can be easy to let those tasks take away from your work productivity. I solve this by scheduling my time in my Google Calendar. I give myself breaks during the workday to do chores, eat food, and run errands, but I do it on a schedule. And I come “back to work” on a schedule, too.