Most people believe that a home work environment is the ultimate luxury — a cushy position where you’re the boss, where you can wear pajamas all day and do whatever you like, whenever you like.
But once the endless freedom gets stale, you’ll start to find that without structure your work days have no shape. It’s harder to get anything done when there’s no boss lurking around the corner, no steady 9 to 5. You can work any time, so it’s easy to put it off.
You can still be productive in a home work environment though, and it can still be more enjoyable than working at the office. It’s all about learning how to structure your day.
Step 1: Dress Code
Offices have a dress code for a couple of reasons. One of them is, undoubtedly, to present a consistent, professional look. Another is creating the appropriate work environment.
Comfortable clothes are great for relaxing, but they can be detrimental to your work efforts. If you stay in your pajamas, you’re naturally going to want to take things easy. Your brain will be telling you that the day hasn’t really started yet.
You don’t have to go all out on a suit or dress, but make an effort to change into clothes you wouldn’t mind going out in. You’ll feel better about yourself, and it’ll help give your day some much-needed structure. Work clothes are for work, lounging clothes are for after.
Step 2: Set Manageable Goals
It’s your own personal work environment, so you can do anything you want! You don’t need a schedule, right? Take things as they come, and do the work you want in the order you want to do it in.
That’s an easy trap to fall into, but it’s just as easy to end up tackling the tasks you want to do and end up leaving all the grueling tasks for the end of the day. Or you could tackle the hard things first and keep pushing off the easy things, thinking you’ll have time later.
These are both good ways to end up stressed and doing work at the last minute.
The solution is to divide your work and set manageable goals throughout the day, based on the priority of the task. Setting and completing goals will provide you with a sense of momentum and allow you to tackle your work one portion at a time.
Once you get a momentum going, you’ll be able to manage your time better, meaning you won’t have to stress and rush to meet deadlines.
Step 3: Keep a Home Office Schedule
As we’ve gone over, it’s easy to push things back … and back … and back. That’s a good way to end up with a pile of work to do well after midnight, and, let’s face it, a lot of us are probably past the days of enjoying the good old college all-nighter. It’s not fun anymore.
Set clear definitions in your life for when work starts and, more importantly, when work ends. You’re still your own boss, so you can define when these hours are, but by setting a definite end time you create a driving force that will get you to finish your work.
And at the end of the day, you can relax knowing you’ve finished all of your work and you’re officially “clocked out.”
Step 4: Don’t Forget Breaks
I know, it’s been all serious up until this point, but don’t forget to take breaks either. Your brain needs a chance to recharge, and you’ll be able to work harder and for longer periods if you factor in a few breaks throughout your day.
Any work environment, at home or the office, will become stressful if you don’t allow yourself breaks during the day for a mental reboot.
Take a little personal time. Reward yourself for hitting the manageable goals you set up.
Ten minutes should be a fine amount of time to let your brain calm down without having it stray away from you. Separate your break time from work time by leaving whatever area you deem to be your “office,” and you’ll be able to return to work after feeling refreshed.
Step 5: Manage Your Internet Use
By far the number one temptation to anyone working from home is the Internet. It’s right there at your fingertips. Even worse, you might need access to the Internet for whatever project you’re working on.
It’s an easy click from Googling research for work to looking at your favorite website, instantly transforming your home office from a work environment to a recreational space.
If you’re having trouble resisting the temptation, consider picking up an Internet blocker. There are several programs, such as Freedom that will completely turn off your Internet connection if you don’t need it.
If you do need the Internet, programs like Anti-Social will let you block only certain websites.
Helpful tools like these programs can help you keep to that all-important schedule and maintain a productive home work environment.
What steps do you take to keep your home office a productive work space? Leave us a comment below!
(Photo Credit: Rubbermaid)