The Unique Challenges Of Getting Things Done When You’re Working From Home
Updated: Jun 24
Working from home when you’re used to having your own office, or at the very least a cubicle, can be a bit of a challenge.
All of a sudden you are in a very different environment that includes your fridge, your washer and dryer, and your TV. There’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and the carpet could benefit from some vacuuming. In other words, you’re out of your regular work environment, and thus out of your routine and everything you do to stay productive.
Often your surroundings aren’t the only distraction when you’re trying to get things done from home. People are the other problem. You’ll quickly find out that others don’t respect your time and your workspace when it is right in the middle of your home. Since you are in your own house, it’s not uncommon for loved ones to stop by, pop in, and ask for all sorts of stuff. Of course this is even worse when you’re trying to work from home with small children around.
To put it another way, you’ll have to learn to deal with internal and external distractions on a completely different level when you start to work from home.
Yes, there are also distractions when you’re working in the office. Emails come in, the phone rings, and your boss stops by dropping another project on your desk. At home you’re dealing with a completely different set of distractions because the lines between work and time off blur.
That can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing.
Despite the challenges, there are some distinct advantages to working from home.
You can react quickly. If something comes up that requires your immediate attention, you can take care of it, even if it’s seven o’clock on a Sunday morning. Of course, this can also be a bit of a challenge. You’re not exactly clocking out when you’re working from home. A lot of people like the flexibility to be able to work and/or take care of things around the house at any given time. It’s one of the big advantages of working from home.
The challenge is finding the right balance. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself working too much (or all the time), or too little (and have to rush to finish things in time) in the beginning.
It’s a new process. It’s a new situation. It will take some time to get it right.
When you do, your productivity both with your work and around the house will skyrocket, because you are no longer wasting time commuting, waiting around on something to finish or a new report to come in. You can make the most of every minute of your day.
Moving from an office to working from home can be quite the challenge, especially when you’re suddenly thrown into this situation.
No matter what the reason, here are 5 of my best tips to help you make the transition and make your most of your time at home.
Tip #1 - Give Yourself Some Grace
If you’re new to working from home, it’s important to realize that there will be an adjustment period. The same holds true for any major change to your schedule or routine. Give yourself some grace while you adjust. You’ll find your groove. Before you know it, you’ll figure out your most productive times of day and start to play around with all sorts of focus hacks. Even so, you will have the occasional down day and that’s okay. Take some time off. Watch a movie. Recharge and get back to work the next day.
Tip #2 - Write Down Your Top Priorities For The Day
It’s easy to get distracted by the laundry, the kids, the internet and all sorts of other things when you’re working in the same space you’re living in. Stay on top of your work and stay productive even when your day gets away from you by making a list. Write down the top three things you need to get done (ideally the night before), and work on them as soon as you sit down to work. No matter what happens, you will know you have gotten the most important stuff taken care of.
Tip #3 - Take A Break
It’s easy to get caught up in the work when you’re at home. There’s no need to take a lunch break and you can work well past dinner if you need to. It’s easy to get into a habit of always working, especially when you enjoy what you’re doing, or you’re under a lot of pressure. It’s important to remember to take breaks. You’ll be more productive and effective when you make time for them during your busy day.
Tip #4 - Use A Timer
Work will fill the amount of time you give it. That’s why using a timer works so well to make sure you stay productive and have plenty of time for the fun stuff. Use the timer on your phone or an old-fashioned kitchen timer. Make it a game to beat the clock and see how much faster you can get your work done.
Tip #5 - Enjoy The Perks
Last but not least, it’s important to enjoy the perks. There’s a lot of freedom in working from home. If you find yourself waking up at 4am and unable to get back to sleep, you can make a pot of coffee and get to work. You’ll be done by 11am and have the rest of your day to yourself. You can head out to see your children’s Christmas play, or grab lunch with a friend who’s in town for the day. You can be flexible with what you do when and you can multitask by starting a load of laundry before finishing up a writing project. Make sure you enjoy the perks. They’ll more than make up for the challenges working from home brings.
How do you deal with working from home?
Do you have a separate office?
Do you set boundaries from family members and time for work?
I'd like to know how everyone is staying productive while working from home.
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