Home is where the heart is — not always the mind.
Nevertheless, this is often where some of your most important projects must be done.
Productivity in the work place is hard enough, even with a supervising boss, limited personal distractions and an atmosphere of like-minded coworkers.
Rip away that stable atmosphere and keeping the momentum of progress can be harder than catching lightning in a bottle.
As a college student in the age of the smartphone, I understand as well as anyone how difficult it can be to sit down and complete a time-consuming assignment without getting – hold on a second while I check my newsfeed – distracted.
The extent of your productivity is contingent upon how you enter into the battlefield. Here are a few pre-project tips for working at home to get you through the most arduous of tasks:
1. Sit Down Ready To Work
Make sure you’ve had plenty of rest or are properly caffeinated. Remind yourself why you need to get this done while the urgency or motivation is fresh in your mind. Write it on a sticky note to put on your work space.
Speaking of your work space — make it your happy place. Organize it. Clean it. Spray some air freshener. Put your prettiest office supplies out on display.
In other words — make this a place anyone would be honored to work in.
2. Inform the Masses of Your Absence
If a roommate, child, family member or significant other also lives in your home, let them know that you have an important assignment. Tell them where you’ll be, and try to give an estimated time frame of how long you might be working.
Take care of any last-minute business with them (cooking dinner, discussing bills, etc.) so you can focus.
3. Bid Farewell to Your Phone
If you’re on-call for something you just can’t ignore, turn your ringer on and place your phone in the far corner of the room. Otherwise, if any contact initiated can probably wait a half hour, put your distraction-box somewhere out of the room.
It’s important for there to be at least one door between you and *it* to give you the feeling of true separation. The same goes for any media or entertainment-related websites/apps on your laptop — close them out. Let the withdrawal begin. You can take it.
4. Set Your Timer for 20 Minutes
Don’t cheat and pull out your phone. If you don’t have a stopwatch, find one on your computer. Relying on a clock won’t work — you want to avoid having to look at the clock at all.
The face of whatever time-keeping gadget you’ve chosen needs to be facing away from you, so make sure the volume of the alarm is sufficient to get your attention.
5. Decide What You’ll Do For Your Break
Most people know by now that the secret to productivity is taking breaks. If this is news to you, welcome to the land of the living — things should be easier for you from here on out.
You have five minutes to do whatever you want, guilt-free, after every 20 minute hard-core work period. Set another timer for it.
This is when you can check your phone, eat a snack, chug a soda, go to the bathroom, etc. The idea is that you’re working hard during those 20 minutes, without distraction, to earn your five minute break. Make it count.
6. Keep What You Need Nearby
Determine what you’ll need for your project and put it within arms-reach. If you can possibly avoid having to leave your work space for materials — fantastic.
Leaving the work space means entering reality, and reality is full of distractions you just can’t afford.
7. Debate Soundtrack vs. Silence
Depending on the type of work you’re about to undertake, music might be a suitable companion. Relaxing soundscapes are frequently recommended, but I’m advising against that – it’s likely to over-relax you and leave you feeling lethargic.
Keep to upbeat instrumentals that aren’t so abrupt they’ll snatch you out of your train of thought. I personally listen to movie soundtracks, but the works of many classical composers can also do the trick.
If you don’t trust yourself to stay focused on your assignment with music playing, silence is golden. Odds are, when you get in the “zone,” you won’t be processing whether there’s music playing or not.
8. Pick an Accountability Partner
This isn’t just for workouts. Telling somebody about your project solidifies its importance in your mind and keeps you motivated.
If you want, have them text you every once in a while to encourage you; just check your phone during breaks. It never hurts to see a friend is cheering you on.
9. Plan Your Celebration
When it’s all over, at that glorious moment when you’ve finished the job, you’ll be one happy (albeit drained) camper. Promise yourself something special — it’ll keep your spirits up when your five minute breaks end and you drag yourself back to your desk.
You’re ready to show this project who’s boss. Put on your game-face and good luck.
Your turn! Any tips for working from home? Let us know in the comments!