Working From Home: Tips to concentrate and produce better
I've been working as a journalist for about ten years and I would say about 70% of all those years I've worked from home. Because I always struggled to work 9-5, I tried many times, but the longest 'regular hours' work I had was three months. I get bored, I can't concentrate, which it's pretty much the opposite of why many people don't like to work from home. My point is, I'm not productive 8 hours a day, maybe 1-3 is my highest creativity peak. All other hours I trend to procrastinate and this is why sit in a office just make me bored, navegate on social media, take uncountable rounds to the coffee machine or toilet.
Anyway, work from home is not that easy either. It took me many years to finally find my balance and how to manage my time in a way I would work, for real, and not just find anything else to do at home.
I wonder why I never wrote such a post before, but due current world circumstance I think this might be the right time. So if you are working from home and find difficult to manage your time, this post might be for you. Believe me, after more than 5 years working while traveling, from home, from hotels, from coffee shops, airports, trains, buses, from any 'workable' place possible. I had to learn how to work in an effective way, otherwise I would not be able to work and well, work is money, so, you know. You need to find the best way to make it work for you. I'm not saying that nowadays I'm the home office guru, I do still find hard to work from home times to times and this is why I have an office to go to. I hired an office from about year ago, before that I always worked from home full time. So here it goes my best tips to make your dream-home-office a place of joy and productivity.
1. Clean Your House
Like seriously, this makes a whole difference in your working time. Because when your house is dirty it's more likely that you don't want to stay there. So you will either feel tired/feeling like just laying at the sofa/or going out to do anything else instead of work. And there is no better feeling to sit and work when your house is clean, believe me. :)
2. Find a place you like to sit (and change it across the day)
If you will sit every day at the same place, for example by the kitchen table, in a short run you will feel bored. This is why it's important to change where you are sitting, so it feels like 'some fresh air' and it will make you a bit more wake and motivated.
3. Take breaks but don't make yourself distracted
I generally work 1,5-2 hours concentrated, then I take short breaks to refill my coffee, get some snacks, check my phone, change the playlist, etc. But be careful because it's super easy to just get distracted with something else. So check your phone, but don't go too deep otherwise you will easy find hard to concentrate back to work again.
4. Try to set up working plans/ make a list of things you need to do
And don't check your social media until your done. Don't open any another tab in your computer until you finish your task. Social media is our biggest enemy while working from home, so try to avoid it if you have a very important deadline. Sometimes I do a type of competition with myself like: "I will not check my phone until 14:30" which gives me time to work, on Iphone you can block your phone so any of the 'blocked' apps will work until certain time. I tried many times and if you can't control yourself, download this type of blocking phone apps, it will help you to keep your focus.
5. Find the right playlist to your working mood
Many times I get distracted on my music, I spend way too much time finding the right track and this can be very time consuming. Some days I will use any excuse to don't work, so any small thing can make me very concentrate for many hours.
6. Don't postpone it for tomorrow
I'm still learning this one, but if there is something I learned during my working life is that is better to do it now, then spend the whole day thinking that you need to do it tomorrow. To finish a work is minding free, sometimes nothing pays your peace. So do it now and then you don't need to worry later. I think like this: "I will finish this now then I can just be free to watch something on Netflix".
7. Apps that helps you to work better
Here is a list of the apps I use and that makes my working life easier:
Google Docs (to share documents live with others/ for me this is my favourite way to work. Because I can work in the same document with other people, so no need to write, save and then send as attachment);
Dropbox Business (to send over files, both me and others can add documents/videos/pictures);
WeTransfer (I usually use for high resolution pictures or videos);
Social Studio (for social media planning with other colleges);
Last Pass (to save passwords, I have the worst memory ever and since I manage not only mine but also my clients passwords, it's a great and safe option to save all information);
Asana (for groups/brainstorms/divide tasks);
8. Make a calendar for meetings & phone calls
If you just write down you will forget and probably miss an important call. So create a calendar for all your appointments and send people invitations, in this way you make sure both of you will be online at same time. I use Outlook Calendar and it works just perfect, you can add different time zones and so on.
9. Take a short walk
If you stay the whole day inside the house you get bored. I know due current situation you might not be able to walk around, but take a short walk in your garden/ building/ or even inside your flat. Just so you keep energy going, to take a few steps without thinking of work it will make you refresh your mood. I would recommend about 10-15 minutes maximum, so you don't go to far or disconcentrate.
10. Take your lunch break to cook something or order food
Use this time to check your social media, to do whatever you had to do on your house like fix something, call someone, etc. Just like if you had 1 hour lunch at work. This is the time when you can procrastinate, it feels like a break on the schedule and don't eat in front of your computer. Take your plate and eat in peace, just so you give your brain a time to chill.
11. The last but not least. Do not work over your working hours.
If you regularly finish at 17, then close your computer when you are done. This will help you to organize your schedule but also to don't overload yourself, just because you are at home. When your work is done, then it's time to do something else you like. :)
I hope these tips will help you to organize and produce better, not saying that all of them will work for you. It's important to find the routine and balance that fits you, otherwise you will be pushing yourself into a routine that makes you more upset than satisfied.
If you have any more tips, feel free to share! I would love to know more (and improve my working from home habities).
Stay positive & safe,