This post was written by an external contributor. Ethan Shone details the best practices for anyone considering working from home.
With this new-fangled ‘internet’ thing, it’s easier than ever to work remotely. Figures show that around 1.5 million people in the UK work from home full-time, and not just for freelancing. More and more companies are putting this option on the table.
Some might assume that working from home equates to having your laptop open whilst you play video games all day. It’s not. Working from home provides the perfect opportunity for you to take complete control over how you get things done. It’s also a chance to set up your work-life in a way which maximises your potential and productivity.
Sure, there are bad habits you can slip into. But luckily, we know the best ways to avoid these pitfalls. So here are some tips on maximising your productivity as a home-worker.
Have a dedicated work space
Don’t work in bed. Don’t work on the sofa whilst you half-watch the TV. Work in your work area.
Not everyone has the luxury of a spare room to dedicate to work, so instead set out an area somewhere. Even if it’s just a certain corner of a table or particular chair, you will still build the association between it and working. If you live with people, make sure they know what this area is, and that when you’re there you’re working.
And remember: just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t get to keep a good work/life balance. Having an area which is dedicated to work alone keep the two separate in your mind.
The importance of routine
Wait, what? Didn’t you leave the world of 9-5, regular employment precisely so you weren’t locked into a tight schedule?
Well, yes, kind of. If you’re working from home – whether you’re a student or a freelancer – part of the appeal is that you aren’t taking yourself off to an office each day at an exact time, and that if and when things come up you have the flexibility to work around them.
But there’s a reason working environments tend to be a little regimented. We are most productive when we’re organised. It’s obvious that when we know what we’re doing and when, we’re better equipped to get it done. So build your routine around what works for you, and give yourself the freedom to move it around a little when needed.
Having a set routine will also help you to stop work-time bleeding into your much-needed down-time.
Dress to impress, or at the very least, dress
There are plenty of studies which show that what we wear effects not only the way other people perceive us, but the way we feel about ourselves and our performance too. If you’re lounging around in your onesie and slippers and haven’t brushed your hair because “you’re not going to see anybody today”, then you’re probably not going to be in the sharpest frame of mind.
But, let’s be fair – one of the big bonuses of not working in an office is not having to make yourself look presentable each day. It can certainly be a relief from some work cultures, where there’s a sense of obligation to always look at your best. As with all things, you should seek to achieve a good balance.
Ultimately, it’s on you; whatever you feel comfortable in. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that working from home is an excuse to meld into your dressing gown permanently.
The 80/20 ratio
We’ve written about some good tips for organisation before, but only you know what works best. Without going into specifics, there’s one principle which is pretty universally useful when it comes to self-organisation; the 80/20 ratio.
Your working day should consist of 80% work and 20% break, roughly. 10 hours is a fairly common working day, so 2 hour breaks overall – probably spread quite evenly through the day – is a good target. From this, you can break your day down into segments and allocate tasks to each time-slot.
Head out occasionally
Even if, like me, you’re the kind of person who could happily stock up on a year’s supply of food and hole up with a laptop and Netflix, there’s something to be said for mixing up your work environment from time to time.
Heading out to a little café or even a pub to get some work done can sometimes provide a little bit of inspiration that might not come at home. Nothing as cliché as observing passers-by and penning epic romances about them, but you might just see something that sparks an idea, or get talking to someone interesting. If you’re based in London, why not check out some of our recommendations for the best places to work?
Even you’re not the laptop-out-in-Starbucks type and you prefer your home, you should take some time occasionally to go out, even if just for a walk and some fresh air.