How to Ensure Your Home Office is Productive

Posted: 08.30.2019

Working from home is a dream. You don’t have to commute into an office every day and battle the traffic, you don’t have to make small-talk with coworkers you barely know, and you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself and the clients you choose. 
However, it can be easy to become unproductive while working from home, because you have all the comforts of your home right at your fingertips. Here are a few tips on how to stay productive.
Set schedule boundaries
Maintaining a proper work-life balance relies on having a set schedule. It’s critical that you stick to your schedule not only for yourself and your mental well-being but for those around you, so they can respect the time that you’re at work. Have a hard stop in the evenings, because it can be extremely tempting to continue answering client emails or calls, or to just finish up that last bit on the project well into the evening, but you need to give your brain time to step away from work and recharge. 
On the flip side, you could just as easily be tempted to slack off and “do the work later” if you don’t have a hard schedule or deadlines. If you create a plan and stick to it, you’ll have some structure in your day, as opposed to putting everything off until the last minute and working all night to make the deadline.
Set mental boundaries
It’s just as important to set mental boundaries as it is to set scheduling boundaries. Working from home can complicate things in terms of separating your work from your personal life, so maintaining those boundaries is crucial to controlling a work-life balance. 
Regular life stresses can make it difficult to focus on work, especially when you’re working from home. Dealing with significant issues, like personal or family health concerns or disruptions like a divorce can be tough because the feelings from those issues can overwhelm you and make it feel impossible to focus on anything else. In those kinds of situations, it can be helpful to seek out the advice or services of a professional, like health care workers who can give you advice or divorce lawyers at who can help simplify the process. 
It can be tough to compartmentalize personal problems, but it’s an excellent skill to learn and practice in order to focus and get work done. Try putting your non-work related issues on a “mental shelf” and come back to them after you’re finished working since being unproductive during the workday and watching tasks pile up can just add more stress. 
Have distractions ready but out of sight
It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking breaks and rewarding yourself with a distraction every so often can make you more productive, not less. Whatever your distraction of choice, be it a game on your phone, a book, a chance to text your friends, or whatever else, keep it nearby but out of sight. If you have it within eyesight of your work station, you will be more likely to break focus and indulge, but if you keep it tucked away until you’ve finished a task, you will be able to focus better. 
Taking regular breaks (approximately 17 minutes every hour) can help your brain maintain focus and productivity, rather than forcing it to be “on” constantly. If you start working on a task, designate a good time to take a break and then reward yourself for getting the work done distraction-free. 
Keep your workspace tidy
It can be shockingly easy to accumulate clutter at your desk, especially if you have kids. A cluttered workspace means a cluttered mind, so make a point of regularly cleaning and decluttering your desk and office space. Get rid of piles of paper, organize your notebooks and pens, and find a better place for books, mugs, or whatever else has found a home on your desk.
It can be tempting to use your office or desk as storage space or drop knick-knacks or books on your desk because you’ll “put it away later,” but resist the urge. You can’t focus on work if there are piles of junk lying around.

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