Working from home. It seems like such a great idea at the time. Think of the time you’ll save not having to commute into the office every day, think of the extra work you’ll get done, the concentration you’ll have from the lack of annoying colleagues constantly interrupting you. Working from home sounds like it’s the perfect solution to the common problem of being more productive at work. What is often meant to reduce stress and increase productivity can very easily end up achieving exactly the opposite effect.
If you’ve ever worked from home yourself you may already know it isn’t always a glamorous and stress free as it sounds. Those dreams of extra productivity can be replaced with distraction, frustration, sometimes anger and resentment plus an increase in those supposedly reducing stress levels too. The pitfalls of home working are real but with some preparation and planning it can also be a great success, here’s how to make the productivity gamble worth the risk…
Make the daily routine just like the office
Creating as similar an environment to the office is an awesome start to making the working day as productive as possible. It is essentially a way to trick the brain into thinking it is in a regular work place. Working at home can increase productivity when you use the following tips…
- Get dressed as if you are actually going into the office – if your dressed in your sweat pants and favourite t-shirt you’ll go into relax mode not work mode
- Take your lunch into the office with you – take a homemade lunch with you into your home office. Go in at the start of the day, close the door, stop for lunch and have it in your office rather than being tempted to go and catch up on some TV or that bit of gardening you didn’t quite get finished therefore falling into distraction. Leave the office only for comfort breaks and your daily routine is still in place
- Share your routine with the family – if you are working at home and the family is in the house with you share your schedule with them and make sure they help you achieve your aims. Disturbing and distracting you can be easy if you’re behind the office door but they must realise that you are at work and they can see you and interact with you when the working day is finished.
The ‘working too many hours’ trap
A sometimes unforeseen danger of working at home can be the temptation to work extra hard, putting in more hours than you ever have before. When the office is a drive away, the switching off process normally takes place when you exit the building. Working at home leaves temptation much closer. The pull of just getting ahead for tomorrow or just finishing that final report can lead to stress of a different kind.
An example of how to deal with the temptation to work that little bit more came from a guy in Australia, who had a problem working too many hours. Once he realised the problem, he chose to find a solution to rectify it in a radical way. He decided he never wanted to be available to work more than 11 hours a day in his home office.
He worked in his garage, and so he always needed light to see the office and work in it – often his days stretched to 15 or 16 hours. He decided, therefore, to fit a timer on the lights and electricity in the garage, and screwed his desk to the wall. This meant that when the timer went off, his lights went out and he could do no more for the day – he couldn’t access the lights without unscrewing the desk from the wall. He also couldn’t start his working day until the lights went on at his chosen time in the morning!
Extreme, but effective
The key to ensuring success working at home is showing the right discipline. If you practice the correct attitude, set the right plans in place and stick to a firm structure then working at home can be everything you want it to be, when it comes to being more productive and reducing stress.
It is simple but not always that easy to achieve!