When you work from home for your own business or as a company’s remote employee, you have the flexibility to work at your own pace and in your comfort zone. However, being at home can become a distraction, especially if you live with others or have difficulty staying focused on the task at hand. Learning ways on how to be more efficient working from home will improve your results.
Creating a productive home environment is essential for work from home success. With the right home office setup, planning, and organization techniques, your home can become as efficient as an in-office cubicle.
How to Make Your Home a Productive Work Environment
Efficiency and productivity don’t just fall into your lap. Try these tips to take proactive steps toward creating a workspace at home that helps you get tasks done:
1. Find A Dedicated Space
Your workspace should be one that doesn’t allow distractions. If you want to learn how to become more efficient working from home, ensure that the area is free from visual and auditory distractions, like pets barking, people talking and moving around, and phones ringing.
Ideally, your workspace should be in its own room, but that’s not possible in every situation. If you can’t find a separate room for your office, consider using a room divider to block off a space you can call your own. A set of noise-canceling headphones can help you block out environmental noises.
2. Get The Right Equipment
From a stand-up work desk to an ergonomic desk chair, having the right equipment in your home office space can make a world of difference when it comes to productivity. Comfort and convenience are the keys to making your work from home life as functional as possible.
Consider getting a desk that has plenty of storage space to keep things neatly tucked away. A tabletop stand-up desk is something you can store away when you’re not using it and take it out when you want to work while standing during the day. Other equipment you might want to your office include:
- An all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machine
- An electric cord organizer
- An anti-fatigue chair cushion and floor mat
- An under-desk elliptical
- Noise-canceling headphones
- A microphone and dictation software
- An alarm clock
3. Plan A Work Schedule Complete With Off Hours
Working from home can quickly get you into a routine of finding it challenging to separate your personal life from your work life. It’s crucial to set limits by creating a schedule for yourself, just like working in the office.
Make sure your schedule has set starting and stopping times, and don’t stray from them. You should also schedule your work and off days and let clients know your schedule. Avoid answering work-related emails and phone calls during your off-hours and days.
4. Have A Separate Email And Phone Line
It’s a good idea to set up a work email and business phone line before you begin working from home. Once you have your work schedule in place, you can set up your work email and phone notifications to be silent during your off-hours, keeping temptation away and giving you the break that you deserve.
5. Make Sure Everyone Is On The Same Page
When you’re working at home with other people there at the same time, it can be easy to fall off the work wagon. To prevent distractions from other household members, you should set expectations from the get-go.
Host a family meeting that details your work schedule and house rules during work time. For example, you might say that when your office door is closed, no one is to enter without knocking first. Or, hang a sign on the door that indicates when you’re on a phone call to avoid interruptions.
6. Get Into A Daily Routine
How to be more efficient working from home can be improved with a daily routine. The quicker you get into a routine that works for you, the easier it will be to get an efficient start to your workday. A daily planner that breaks down the day into segments might help you stay on track until your schedule becomes part of your autonomous routine.
7. Take Mental And Physical Breaks
Research shows that taking quick breaks from work during the day can boost your mental and physical health. Even a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood can prevent fatigue, elevate your heart rate, burn calories, and get you refocused on your tasks at hand.
It’s best (and doable!) to move a few minutes each hour. Stand up from your desk and do some stretches, practice yoga, or take a quick jog. You’ll come back home ready to work.
8. Organize Your Space
Organization in your home office space will keep your mind clear to focus on your work. Everything on and around your desk should have a clear, defined area. Be sure to make each drawer or filing cabinet include related items to make it easy to find things when you need them.
9. Work Away From Home Occasionally
Working from the same spot every day, whether you’re in an office or at home, can become mundane. A simple change in your environment once in a while can spark creativity and productivity.
Take your work outside your home office when possible. This can be difficult if you need to stay in place to answer a landline phone, but you can check with your job to see if it’s possible to work from a mobile phone instead.
Some places to consider include:
- The library
- A coffee shop
- A restaurant
- A neighborhood co-working space or internet café
- An outdoor area, like a park
- A museum or art gallery
- A bookstore
10. Try To Get Work Done Early
Getting into an early morning wakeup routine may make you more productive. If you get up at 8 a.m. now, try waking at 6 a.m. instead, if your job allows it. You might find that you get more accomplished in the earliest hours and have time to spare later in the day. Even if you can’t adjust your work hours, you might be able to get some tasks out of the way, like checking emails, to keep you on track the rest of the day.
If you’re more of a night owl and can have a flexible schedule, you could try working during night hours for a few nights to see if you get a productivity boost.
11. Use Productivity Software
Productivity software comes in several forms, but they each have a similar focus: to keep you on target by avoiding unnecessary interruptions. Here are a few examples of productivity software that might help you boost your efficiency:
- Time-tracking software: Track your time spent on specific tasks to make sure you’re sticking to your scheduling goals.
- Program/app-blocking software: Temporarily block apps, programs, and websites that can easily distract you, like your email client or social media websites.
- Organizing/list–making software: Create to-do lists, organize notes, or keep track of appointments.
- Team collaboration software: Connect with clients or other team members to share files, track project tasks, or communicate.
12. Consider The Benefits Of Childcare
If you have children in your home, your work-life balance could become even more complicated. It’s easy to get distracted by making lunches, changing diapers, or helping with schoolwork.
Bringing the kids to a childcare center or babysitter’s house, even for a few hours or days each week, could help keep you on top of your work by giving you some uninterrupted time. If it makes you more comfortable, you might even have a babysitter come to the house to spend time with the kids while you work.
13. Schedule Phone Calls
If possible, schedule phone calls with other team members or clients to avoid interrupting a task you’re working on. Write each appointment down in your planner or add them to your digital calendar, so you remember when to pause for a call.
14. Stay Connected With Others
Your mental health relies on staying connected with others, which can be a challenge when you work at home by yourself. Take an occasional lunch break with a friend or meet with colleagues one day a week at a co-working space to socialize and take advantage of human connections.
15. How To Be More Efficient Working From Home Can Be Improved With Taking Time Off
Equally important for your mental health and productivity is time off from work. It can be especially easy to neglect a weekend off or a vacation when you work from home as a business owner, but it’s crucial to take an occasional break to clear your mind and return ready to work.
16. Be Flexible
Working from home requires some degree of flexibility on your end, especially if you have other people in your home. Some days may not be as easygoing as others, and that’s okay. Learn to go with the flow and make accommodations as necessary so that you can pick back up where you left off.
These 16 steps above should give you a head start on answering the question of how to be more efficient working from home. With meaningful intent and self-motivation to get the job done, you can remain productive when working from home. First, set up your office for success with comfortable seating and distraction-free organization. Then, work to create a schedule and home environment that keep you on task. After you get into a routine, efficiency will be your best skill.