The work from home lifestyle is an aspiration for many professionals. With a wealth of advantages, including minimal commutes, maximum mobility and the freedom to manage your own time, many people are exiting the office and opting for a more flexible working environment. Now, thanks to a dearth of technology and free tools, staying in touch with co-workers or clients is easier than ever before. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that people that work from home are more productive; according to a recent survey, the flexibility of working from home helps people stay focussed.
That said, maintaining focus can be a challenge for some. For instance, some people find domestic duties distracting, especially if there are kids around. Equally, too much mobility can be disruptive, as the lack of a dedicated workspace can allow the mind to wander. Therefore, whether or not you work from home will depend on your individual disposition. Here, we discuss the challenges of working from home and share some tips on how to maintain focus.
- Get started early
An essential strategy for working from home effectively is acting like you’re going to the office. Rising early, having coffee and getting dressed is essential to entering into the right headspace – and that last point is crucial, as staying in your pajamas is generally a death sentence for productivity. If you’re sat down and ready to work by 9 am, you’re far more likely to achieve everything you need to that day.
However, this process can feel a little jarring if your commute is closer to 30 seconds that 30 minutes. Many office workers use their commute as a time to wake up and mentally prepare for the day, but for freelancers, the move from their pillow to the desk is a little more abrupt. However, interestingly, one key to productivity is to embrace this and jump straight into your to-do list. By getting started immediately, you can prevent morning sluggishness from persisting through the day.
- Create a dedicated workspace
One of the main advantages of working from home is mobility – but don’t allow this flexibility to compromise productivity. Often, having a dedicated workspace in your home is essential to getting into the right frame of mind. However, we would recommend steering clear of making this area the couch. Instead, allocate a table and chair, or even better an entire room, as your at-home office space. Not only will this area help you focus, it also has financial benefits. In many countries, including the UK and the USA, the cost of carrying on your business from home is tax-deductible.
- Stick to a schedule
A key challenge of working from home is, ironically, working too much. Never giving yourself time to switch off can damage productivity in real terms, as jaded, stressed people are rarely effective. Therefore, it’s advisable to create a daily work schedule. After all, the essential qualities of an effective freelancer include self-motivation, organisation and time management skills. With a well-thought out daily work plan, you can allocate time for emails, phone calls and specific tasks, ensuring a productive, disciplined day without work intruding on your personal time too much.
- Capitalise on productive time
Although there’s plenty of things you can do to try and stay productivity, it’s important to be able to recognise when you’re at your peak. No one can maintain maximum productivity throughout the day – so as your energy ebbs and flows, it’s crucial to capitalise on moments when you’re most productive. Factor this natural rhythm into your daily schedule, allocating difficult or complex tasks to your peak periods and perform simple, administrative tasks during the downtime. That way, you can use small achievements as a way to maintain momentum.
- Network on and offline
If you work from home, it can be more challenging to develop professional relationships. Therefore, it’s important to put some extra energy into networking. After all, employers are increasingly looking for employees and collaborators with outstanding soft skills – so it’s essential to keep your communication capabilities sharp. This can be done through small things like taking the time out to make phone or video calls instead of shooting off strings of texts or emails. Equally, meeting a client for coffee or lunch can make a world of difference when it comes to PR. Plus, it’s also a valuable opportunity to get out of the house and stay stimulated.
Furthermore, you should take full advantage of digitals tools. Make sure you leverage collaborative apps like Google Drive, Hangouts or Dropbox to stay fully engaged with colleagues and clients. Equally, by getting active on platforms like LinkedIn, you can keep up with your professional network and access new opportunities. In a similar vein are digital talent platforms, which are a great place to demonstrate your expertise and connect with exciting employers and projects.
In short: How to work from home effectively
Work from home arrangements have advantages for employers and employees alike. Not only does it provide greater flexibility, these arrangements can also boost productivity and motivation. However, to truly reap the benefits of working from home, freelancers need to maintain discipline. This means getting up, getting out and making sure that you manage your time effectively; so in many ways, your daily work from home schedule shouldn’t be that different from office culture. With a disciplined approach – and some handy digital tools – working from home can be the route to a more fulfilling, flexible and productive working life.