There’s no denying that the daily commute can be soul sapping. Whether your sitting in traffic for 40 minutes to and from work, or stuck on the subway crammed with strangers. Commutes are always a pain in the butt. Thankfully over the last couple of years, working from home has become more of an option for people.
Telecommuting is on the rise, especially as businesses all the world over come to realize that they can scythe down their overhead costs by giving their workers the option to telecommute. If you’re one of the thousands who have been given the option of telecommuting, or if you’ve decided to give up the corporate rat race for a new life as a freelancer, congratulations! But while working from home can offer us the kind of freedom that we could have only dreamed about when working in an office, there are a few things you’ve got to do to ensure you’re productive!
1. The caveats of telecommuting
Telecommuting and working from home as a freelancer are certainly alluring. Picture it, looking out the window of your urban apartment while the rains streams down on the telecommuters below. Imagine watching them scurry down the sidewalk buffeted by wind and rain, clutching their quickly cooling lattes and umbrellas which could fly out of their hands at any moment. Imagine watching this from the warmth and comfort of your apartment as you sip your coffee and boot up your laptop, starting your work day at a time when you’d normally just be setting off.
Sounds like the charmed life, doesn’t it?
But those of us who work from home face a different set of challenges. For example, working from home is to fight a battle on many fronts. A battle against distraction, interruption and time wasting. A battle for productivity, satisfaction and work-life balance. It can be extremely hard to separate your work life from your home life when you literally live at work. At the same time, it can be difficult to keep the quotidian challenges of the home at bay when you work at home. In order to stay productive, keep your boss or clients happy and maintain a healthy and happy life, it’s up to you to instigate some changes. Here we’ll look at some ways to optimize your living space and your lifestyle for peak productivity when working from home…
2. Bad broadband- The enemy of productivity
One of the most important things you can do to keep yourself productive is endure that you have the digital infrastructure in place to ensure that you can work quickly and efficiently. While your bandwidth needs will vary depending on the nature of your job, the software your position requires and the hardware you have at your disposal, bad broadband is the enemy of productivity.
Even freelance writers (whose broadband needs you’d expect to be fairly undemanding) can grow frustrated when their job requires them to keep several browser windows open and their connection slows to a crawl.
What’s more, if you’re working while your S.O. or kids are in the next room playing games online or streaming, your desktop can quickly become a disorganized mess. Make sure you invest in an ISP who can give you a reliable connection and speeds that will keep you productive like i3 Broadband. With available speeds of up to 1GB you’ll find that your productivity will never be compromised by cripplingly slow internet speeds.
3. Building a home office
Your next most immediate port of call will likely be to construct yourself a home office. This can be a fun project that affords you a lot of creative license, but there are certainly some boxes that you should be able to check. Your ability to create a perfect office space will depend on how much space you have available. Whether you have a whole room, half a room or just a corner available, it’s essential that you do all that you can to create a workspace that’s conducive to productivity and eliminates distractions.
In terms of decor, keep it simple. Bold colors and patterns can be distracting but that doesn’t mean that you need to labor away in a monochrome workspace especially if your sensibilities crave color. Soft blues can be good for concentration while greens can be great for helping you to remain calm and stress-free. Whether you paint them on your walls or use them for carefully chosen items of furniture or accessories, there’s no reason why you can’t use the psychological stimuli of color to your advantage.
If possible, choose a room with a view for your home office and try to position your desk so that you will have a window to look out of. Believe it or not, a 2014 study by the University of Illinois reveals that employees who sit by a window are healthier, better rested and more productive.
It’s a well known fact that proximity to nature is not only great for productivity but can also help us to manage stress, anxiety and depression. As such, make time to take a coffee break somewhere close to trees and plants. If you’re deep in the concrete jungle, you can still avail yourself of the power of nature, just invest in some carefully chosen houseplants. You don’t need to wander for hours in a verdant garden, just a short burst of nature can boost your mood and your productivity. Check out this recommended list of house plants for your home office.
4. Jog-start your day
The time you would have spent commuting to work? Why not dedicate it to a brisk jog. Not only is it a great cardiovascular workout that will keep you trim, it can also aid concentration, memory and focus. This will ensure that you get to your desk every day in the right frame of mind!
5. Doing away with distractions
Distraction can strike at any moment and threaten to derail your productivity… However, when you’re working from home there are a lot of distractions that you’ll need to content with. When you’re surrounded by every book, movie and TV program you own, a radio and unlimited access to the online world the prospect of settling down for a day’s work can seem virtually impossible. That’s why it’s so important to have a dedicated workspace. You’ll never do your best day’s work from your sofa or your bed. When there’s a door separating you from the TV you’re far less likely to drift to the sofa when creative block sets in.
When working at a computer, it goes without saying that you’ll have to eschew the distractions of the digital world. The good news is that there are plenty of tools to mitigate this and keep you on the right track when it comes to your productivity. Whether you want a blocker that will make social media access impossible while you work or a plugin that denies you access to everything except your browser based word processor of choice, there are a wealth of free tools you can use.
Finally, put your cell phone in your desk drawer… And leave it there. Even if it rings! Your policy on cell phone use should be the same as any workplace’s. A cell phone can be a source of infinite distraction and before you know it you can realize that you’ve lost a half hour to your Twitter feed. Whether we like it or not, employers prohibit phone use at desks for a reason and you should too for the same reason.
Of course, the allure of entertainment is just one kind of distraction that you’ll have to contend with. You’ll also have to resist the urge to drift away from your desk and dive into the never ending list of chores against which every household wages a constant battle. As such, it’s a good idea to…
6. Allot time for chores
Believe it or not, chores are a distraction that you should incorporate into your daily routine. Why? Because repetitive jobs that keep the hands busy but require little actual concentration can be great for resting a tired mind. Thus, when you would normally take a coffee break, take the time to do the dishes, fold the laundry or iron your shirts. You’ll arrive back at your desk feeling mentally rested and raring to go and find it much easier to eschew distractions.
7. Treat yourself by working away from home every once in a while
Finally, even the most carefully constructed home office can feel like a trap at times. On these occasions a change of scenery can work wonders for your productivity. As such, don’t be afraid to step out every once in a while and work in your favorite coffee shop or your local library. The new sights, scents and tastes can stimulate the mind and restore flagging energy and productivity.
Photo by Mia Baker