Stay productive working from home

As a home-based business, we are often asked about how we stay productive while working from home, and to be honest, we find that working from home provides us with the flexibility to perform at our best.

Our findings below demonstrate what works for us, but we're aware that this may not work for everybody, so it is essential to find what works correctly for you.

Building a routine

When we were working at a city office, our lives revolved around routine.  Getting up, dressed and ready to be out the door in record time to catch the train and commute to the office was one of the things we looked forward to forgetting about the most when we decided to work from home, but it was quickly one of the things we missed most.

It didn't take long, but a new routine evolved – and it was surprisingly similar to the old routine.  We set our alarm clock, just like we used to, get showered, dressed, grab some breakfast and a coffee all in time to be at our desk for an 8:30 am start.

Keeping this routine makes sure that our heads are clear and ready to start a full productive day of work without distractions.

Setting expectations

From the day we started working from home, we made it very clear to all our friends and family that during business hours, we simply weren't available to drop in for a coffee and a chat or a catchup phonecall.  If others are home during your work hours, it can be worthwhile to have a chalkboard on the door to the office with a note, like, “I am in the office” or “Out of the office today” to prevent people from just coming in or assuming that you aren't working.

Have a dedicated work area

Having a dedicated work area doesn't mean that you need to have a spare room or a large open space in the house to turn into your home office – all you'll likely need is a clean desk or a table.

Our workspace is a desk that is only to be used for work purposes.  We are careful not to use the workstation for any purpose apart from work, so our home life doesn't encroach on our work life.

Take a break

While working at an office, you aren't stuck in the chair for the entire eight hour workday, and so it is important that you aren't doing this at home either.  Most offices have a morning tea break, lunch break and then there's the occasional afternoon chats with colleagues – which makes a huge difference when it comes to creating a productive and healthy work environment.

Find triggers to get up and walk away from your desk, whether it is by the clock, or as you finish specific tasks throughout the day.

Setting goals

To ensure we remain productive, we work on the tasks that have the highest impact for the business and our clients.  It is easy to sit in the chair and tick off the easy tasks, but there isn't anything more satisfying than when you can tick off a large or complicated task.

We use a whiteboard to keep our workday tasks on track.  We list all the upcoming jobs to be completed, and throughout the week we wipe off the completed tasks and add any new ones that come up.

Work when you are most productive

It is easy to fall into the routine of the nine to five workday - but there are some tasks that I seem to be able to power through in the evenings (like invoicing) when I don't have any other distractions like work calls or scheduled meeting.  Being able to identify when it is best to perform these tasks will result in less actual time spent working on specific tasks.

Invest in equipment to help you perform

Using the right equipment to perform your tasks will undoubtedly make your job easier, and it is likely going to save you time – so if the equipment is going to be a good investment into the business – go for it.

As web developers, the central piece of equipment we need is a computer to work from, so we make sure that our computers are powerful enough to work quickly and efficiently.  Our product is data, so it is also important that our data storage be fast and backed up on a regular basis.  These investments in high-quality equipment ensure that we have minimal downtime in our operations.

Enjoy the flexibility

As a home business owner, you can structure your day however you see fit so you can maximise your output and grow your business.

Once you determine the best way to work in your own business, and you have built in the habits that support it, you will quickly see that your efforts will begin to pay off, and your business will grow.

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