4 Ways to Stay Productive at Your Home Office

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By Dexter Lunde

Where do you work? Do you work in an office building or do you work outside, where you can soak up some vitamin D? Do you work in a cubicle or a corner office? Do you have a view of the concrete jungle or do you have a view of an actual jungle?

We all work from different places and each has its own set of pros and cons. The same goes for working from home. As of two years ago, there were 13.4 million Americans that were working from home. There are quite a few factors in this including the government’s effort to cut back on real estate costs.

Workers embrace the idea. The thought behind their approval are the benefits, like an “easier commute” (read: no commute), no coworkers that smell like onions, you don’t have to look your boss in the face, etc. There are drawbacks, however, that people often look past. One of these main drawbacks are the distractions at home: TV, kids, chores, internet, etc.

If you’re looking to avoid these issues or if you’re already working at home and you are having issues being productive, check out some of these tips in order to stay on task while you’re at home. Don’t worry, they are tried and tested by researchers (and also by me).

#1) Quarantine Yourself

While writing this, I have barricaded myself into my home office. In our house, we have two offices: one for me and a separate one for my girl. Why? Well, this works well for two reasons:

1. I can write this space off on my taxes because it is strictly used for work.

2. It serves as my workspace. I go here to work and do nothing else. As soon as I walk into my office, my brain knows that it’s time to get words down on paper.

#2) Actually Keep Work Hours

I love my job. I love my job so much that I have a hard time keeping work hours. As a business owner and writer, I find that I always have work to do – which means “never-ending work days”. Trust me when I say that keeping these days is not only detrimental for your job, it’s also detrimental for your health.

It got to a point where I was working 14 hour days, 7 days a week. Not only was I tired all time (more coffee!), I was also getting burnt out. Give yourself a break. Everyone needs a day off every once in a while. Not only that, but keeping business hours will help you stay productive during those hours. That means that you’ll be less likely to procrastinate while you’re at work.

Find out which hours are your more productive hours. Are you a night owl? Are you a morning person? Are you most productive from 7AM to 9AM and from 8PM to 10PM? If your schedule allows for a split shift, by all means go for it. Remember that you also have to consider time zone differences (depending on your job) and your family’s schedule.

#3) Create Strict Rules & Regs

Yes, I’m sure that your children are adorable. I’m sure that your wife is hot. However, during work hours you should really be working and not watching your children (or your wife) fingerpaint on your rosewood desk.

When you are working, put up your work hours on your door and shut it. Join your family for lunch breaks. Anyone without top nuclear clearance access shouldn’t be allowed in.

#4) Task Lists and Social Media

Facebook, YouTube, tumblr (the website that will completely suck out your soul), and twitter shouldn’t be allowed during your work hours unless absolutely necessary. These are my weaknesses by far: social media sites and list sites like Buzzfeed and Cracked. Going to any one of these websites is like waving a magic wand. Magically three hours disappear from your day. It is both astonishing and depressing at the same time.

One the flip side, one thing that has kept me extremely productive is my task list. Depending on how you work, you can have different versions of a task list. For me, I like to write down every task that I need to do that day. Everything from “check and respond to e-mail” to “finish Danjur article” to “clean off my desk before I start work”. Why? Because those little tasks (like “clean desk”) help to motivate me to do more work. I can check off those easy tasks. After two hours of work, half of my task list is checked off. It motivates me to keep going.

Not only that, it also helps when I’m going through my sluggish hour (mine is between 1PM and 2PM). I can knock off a couple of simple tasks during that time, before my second wind kicks in.

Now it’s your turn. Do you work at home? What do you do to stay on task? What tricks do you have to being productive? Let us in on what you’re thinking. Write down your thoughts, ideas, and questions in the comment section below.