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How to Stay Productive When You Work at Home

Whether you have your own business, are self-employed, or run a side hustle on evenings and weekends, you’ll know that working from home on your own can leave you feeling somehow both liberated and powerless at the same time. You have the freedom to spend your time however you like, but without the structure of a standard workplace, it can be hard to make sure that you accomplish everything that you want each day.

If you find it difficult to stay productive when you work from home, there are some simple things you can do to ensure that you make the most of every day:

Get dressed and get out of the house

One of the best things about working from home is that there’s no dress code and no one can tell if you haven’t ironed your clothes. To those in standard 9 to 5 jobs, working in your pajamas sounds like great fun, but in reality, it isn’t that conducive to being productive.
Our morning routines are part of the waking up process.

While those of us who work at home get to skip the long commute and bad coffee in the work cafeteria, simply rolling out of bed in our pajamas and sitting down at our desk to work normally isn’t the best way of getting our brains going. We need to work a little harder to get ourselves in the best mindset for a day at our laptops and getting out of the house, even for a short walk around the block, is a really effective way of doing that.

While it might seem obvious that getting up and going for a walk is good for your mental health, fresh air has actually been proven to increase productivity. A study by Harvard University in 2017 showed that breathing better air led to significantly better decision-making performance among their participants, in particular, they showed marked improvements in making strategic decisions and planning than those in a stale office environment.

So get dressed and go for a jog, say hello to the neighbors, or just run out and get yourself a coffee, you’ll reap the benefits once you get back home.

Have a dedicated workspace

Working at the kitchen table or on the sofa might be fine for a little while, but if your morning has to begin with clearing away the leftover dishes and your children’s bags or wiping up spills before you can really even put your laptop down, it’s not going to get you into that working mindset. Find a space that can be your desk whenever you need it; this should be a place that can stay organised and free of distractions so that when you sit down, you are ready to get to work.

Having a space to work that’s separate from the space you live and sleep in will help you get both into and out of the work mindset more easily. If you’re working from your bed, you might find it tempting to put down your laptop and drift off. Equally, at the end of the day, if your workspace is separate, you might not be so easily tempted into logging back onto your computer to check your emails when you should be sleeping!

If you share your home with others, like a partner, children, or roommates, make sure that they also understand that this is your workspace and that when you’re working, you’re not to be disturbed unnecessarily.

Set a schedule and stick to it

One of the most difficult things about working for yourself at home is knowing when to stop. If a client is emailing you at 8 pm, should you respond? How about 10 pm? Most normal companies have business hours – for example, between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday to Saturday. Most of us wouldn’t turn up to a regular job on the weekend and log on for half an hour, but it’s easy to do at home. While it can feel uncomfortable, especially if you work for yourself, it’s really important to set boundaries.

Most of the things we think of after we’ve signed off for the night are not emergencies that need to be attended to immediately. On the rare occasion that you really do need to finish a task that day, of course, you should make sure it’s done. The rest of the time, simply adding it to your to-do list for the following morning is enough. That way, you know that it will be taken care of as soon as possible within your working hours, but you still get to enjoy your evening with family or friends.

Having clear working times will encourage you to work hard within those hours to get tasks finished on time, and will ensure that you can relax outside those hours, and get the downtime that your body and mind need to stay healthy and productive.

Make a to-do list everyday

While not quite the same level of pressure as a boss looking over your shoulder, it’s surprising the boost that ticking off a task on the page can give you. Without a list, it can be easy to forget smaller tasks or to get your priorities wrong and waste time on less important jobs leaving you scrambling to finish that one key project.

When you start work in the morning, review the list you’ve made for the day and add anything else that you can think of. You can also include personal tasks or “life admin” in a separate section if helpful. You can then use this list to help structure your day; maybe you want to get a larger project finished before your lunch break and keep the smaller tasks for the afternoon so you can fit them in around a phone meeting. Having a list of tasks and planning out each day at the start will super boost your productivity and having all your tasks in one place allows you to prioritize them sensibly.

And don’t stop at the day in front of you; have week or more of to-do lists set up in advance and if you come up with tasks that you know will take a little longer or that need to be completed at a point in the future, add them to the relevant days when you think of them.

Maintaining productivity at work can be challenging even in a standard job. At home on your own, without colleagues to help keep you motivated, staying productive is even more difficult, but these four simple tips can help you take advantage of the freedom you have while working at home, rather than letting it overcome you. With the right workspace, the right mindset, and a plan for every single day, you can turn even the laziest morning into a surprisingly productive day.

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Using Workplace Flexibility as an Employee Perk

Using workplace flexibility as an employee perk is one of the strategies that can be used to motivate employees at no financial cost to the company. Quite a number of strategies exist for introducing a flexible workday into a place of employment. These scenarios include telecommuting from home daily, telecommuting from home on a partial weekly basis, a four-day work week, and staggered starting and ending hours.

The strategy that any company implements needs to be one that will work well for them while encouraging the growth and expansion of the company. This type of strategy won’t be appropriate for all companies or even for all departments within a company. No matter which specific type of workplace flexibility you incorporate into the company, certain advantages and disadvantages will be attached to your decision.

The Advantages of Workplace Flexibility

Several advantages are attached to the implementation of a flexible work week or schedule. Each of these advantages can lead to a renewed growth in the company along with enhanced profitability.

Workplace Flexibility: Morale

Perhaps the greatest impact it has is to increases the morale of the employees who are able to partake of this plan. A higher level of morale equates to increased productivity.

Workplace Flexibility: Team Management

The introduction of workplace flexibility offers company managers an opportunity to utilize their team members according to their skill set rather than relying strictly on the number of hours that they clock in. If everyone is staggered according to the hours they work, managers can then assign tasks according to an employee’s ability to perform the task. Rather than assigning a task simply because everything else is already farmed out to other employees who are working the same schedule, managers will experience flexibility with assignment scheduling.

Workplace Flexibility: Focus on Task

Due to a streamlined employee workforce in which some staff members are working from home and others are coming in at a different hour, attention to task should be increased. Employees should readily be able to focus on an assigned task since fewer distractions should present themselves. The manager or supervisor should also be able to tell more clearly whether an employee is actually working or not.

Workplace Flexibility: Employee Turnover

Employee turnover typically decreases once workplace flexibility enters into the company’s picture. Employees do not need to leave the company if they develop a need for scheduling flexibility due to family obligations. Plus, Absenteeism is usually reduced as well since employees have the opportunity to be flexible when scheduling doctor and dental appointments along with other necessary meetings.

The Disadvantages of Workplace Flexibility

Several disadvantages are associated with workplace flexibility. However, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Nonetheless, employers who are considering incorporating a flexible work schedule should be aware of them in order to safeguard against them.

Workplace Flexibility: Productivity

Some companies might discover that a flexible work week leads to an inconsistency in productivity. Employees might not be able to coordinate with the employees they need due to a varied work schedule. Additionally, workers at home might experience a tendency to ease up on their productivity under the mentality “while the cat is away, the mice will play.”

Workplace Flexibility: Trust

It’s important for an employee to have earned the trust of the owner or manager prior to being given the opportunity to participate in this type of experience. If the employee is chosen based upon his desire to participate rather than on his trustworthiness, he might exercise a bit too much flexibility. This employee might not come into work at the assigned time each day because he is under the belief that times are now flexible.

Workplace Flexibility: Training and Preparation

Unfortunately, some level of new training must be incorporated in order for a business change such as a flexible workplace schedule to be successful. Managers and supervisors will need to learn how to assimilate these changes into the work day so that productivity continues seamlessly. This training will take time and money to implement and therefore, some businesses might not find it to be cost effective.

Overview of Workplace Flexibility

In general, introducing workplace flexibility into a business leads to a greater level of involvement by the employees who are experiencing a higher level of workplace contentment. Additionally, the profitability of the company surges with renewed growth as a direct result of increased productivity. Plus, an increase in the quality of the work is generally experienced.

Intro: Incorporating a number of workplace perks into a business can lead to enhanced productivity and profitability. Does the use of workplace flexibility as an employee perk provide these facets?

By Susan M. Keenan ©2009

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