Working from home is no longer for "working moms" or for young, hip people (not that older people are not "hip"!). Instead, the average telecommuter is 49 years old and belongs to a company of more than 100 people. According to one estimate, there were 3.2 million workers in 2012 who worked from home, and that number is on the rise. Those who work from home tend to devote longer hours to work, but they are also more productive. Most employees really enjoy having the option. In fact, 84% of the companies on the coveted Forbes List of the "Best Companies to Work For" offered telecommuting as a benefit option.
While all of this sounds great, if you have ever worked from home, you know that keeping yourself on task can be a challenge. If you have children or a spouse, or even a dog, those distractions can be difficult to avoid. However, if you take control of your tasks, you can get your work done quickly and efficiently so you can get back to doing the things you love. The following are some quick tips to keep you motivated and moving forward.
- Make a daily to-do list.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it really does help! At the start of your day, sit down and decide what must get done today. Put those tasks at the top of your list. Then, add in the "should get done today" tasks and the "it would be awesome if I got this done" tasks. Then, add the other tasks that may interrupt you, like playing with the kids or the dog. Assign each task a time, even the interruptions, using them as a break. Then, add in an extra hour or two to compensate for unexpected interruptions.
- Take frequent (but scheduled!) breaks.
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you reward yourself with specific break times, then you are much more motivated to work until that specific time. If you find yourself thinking, "I just want to check this one thing. It won't take long," then write it down. You can do that specific task on your next break--this applies to everything from checking e-mail, to bank accounts, to social media. It even applies to the household chores that keep sneaking into your mind. If you put those things off, they are more like a little treat for working hard. (And who would have thought chores could be a treat?)
Breaks are also great after a particularly challenging task. If you know something is going to take a close eye or a lot of effort, work on it in smaller chunks with lots of short breaks. Try 20 minutes on task and 5 minutes off. Play around to find the schedule that works for you.
- Change your clothes. Change your outlook.
Arguably, one of the best parts about telecommuting is the ability to get up when you want and hang out in your sweats all day (if you're into that sort of thing). However, using that mentality day in and day out might get you in trouble. While it is true that your clothing says a lot about you to other people, it may also affect how you think about yourself as well. When you get ready and get dressed, you may be more focused and motivated. While you probably do not need to resort to this tactic every day, there are days when you just need to be mentally ready to put in some serious work. (No suits required, just put on real pants!)
- Get enough rest.
Most of us need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but when we are working constantly, rest is often the first thing that disappears. You need to be able to "recharge" in order to put in good work the following day, and let's face it, once you hit a certain point, your work isn't as good anyway. Keep focused during the day so you have time to unwind and sleep when you are finished for the day.
Teleworking usually means a lot of time on computer, and that can be draining. Do what works for you to keep you focused and productive. Do you have some tips that you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them! Please consider commenting below.