By Mel Sim

With these easy-to-follow productivity tips.

I love working from home. It gives me the flexibility to plan my schedule, work in a place where I’m comfortable, and have some free time to do other things (like Netflix binge or read). It’s awesome... if you know how to stay focused on the task and actually sit down and work.

Which means if you’re the type to be easily distracted, then working at home might not work out for you because you’ll end up doing everything else (from watering the plants to playing with your pet) except for working.

Doesn't mean that you should forget about opting for a work-from-home stint or take up your company’s offer for flexi time. Like every thing else, it can be learnt... and mastered.

My suggestions? These 7 tips on what you need to do to get work done at home.

#1 Start work immediately
When you work in the office, you don’t do things after lunch, right? So make sure you do the same when working from home – get started almost immediately. What I do is grab my cup of coffee, turn on my computer and start replying whatever emails I can. Then I look at my to-do list and get cracking on them. Before I know it, it’s lunch time and if I’ve been super efficient, I might have the rest of the day off to work on other things that don’t require my immediate attention or spend my afternoon reading up on things or just chilling.

#2 Stay on schedule
I am a stickler for schedules. I use an app called Things on my computer to list out the tasks I want to complete on which days. And then I make sure I stick to it. Listing out my deadlines is one thing but actually completing them when I set out to is how I get work done at home. Do the same – you don’t have to plan the entire week, maybe two days in advance to get into the groove of having a schedule. Most importantly is to follow that schedule to actually accomplish things.

#3 Stay away from social media
A HUGE time sucker? Going on Facebook to “browse”. Before you know it, you’ve spent almost an hour just reading up on status updates. That’s an hour you can actually spend working on your report – and an hour to do whatever you want when you finish that report on time. The problem is that it is easy to go on social media when there are no bosses to see what you’re doing instead of working. So practise self-control and log out of from your social media during work hours at home.

#4 Take a break
To prove that you’re the work-at-home type, you work all day all night. Don’t – that’s just counterproductive because every research on this matter points to the fact that working on the grind isn’t as productive as you think it may be. If I spent two days working non-stop on a project, I see that I take the third off to recharge and refocus my thoughts. Also because I deserve it. By the fourth day I am actually raring and excited to work on something new.

#5 Set fixed work hours
Just as you would in the office. Work from 9am, lunch at 1pm, stop at 5pm. That’s the work-at-home hours I’ve established for myself. I don’t necessary follow it to the tee – some days I start work at 10am (if I was working late the night before) and end it early (if I’ve been super productive throughout). That’s the beauty of working from home. You set your own time, one that works for you; you stick it it, and you reward yourself when you’ve had a productive day.

#6 Work in a conducive area
Your office has bright lights, a fairly large table for you to work from, and a comfortable office chair. If this is the case, don’t work while propped up on your bed or in a dimly lit area whenever you switch to work-from-home mode. It’s not conducive and in the long term can actually be bad for you. You need to stay in the zone so that you can be focused on your work. If you have an extra room, make that your home office. Fill it with things that motivates and inspires you, and productivity will come easily. Basic requirements for a good home office? Natural lighting, plenty of ventilation, comfortable and above all, a place where you won’t get distracted easily (no working from the couch in front of the TV!).

#7 Work outside
Just because you have a work-at-home stint or you’re spending the week off office to work at home doesn’t mean you literally have to sit in your home to work. Sometimes, a change of environment can do you good. Get out of the house and head to your favourite coffee shop with good WiFi to get some work done. The act of actually going out and sitting in a public area can simulate the energy of an office to spark productivity. Sometimes, some of my best works are actually done in Starbucks!

Photo by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash

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