When your home is your workplace, there are two major problems with your work-life balance. In a previous article, we discussed how to take care of your mental health and not become consumed with work. At the opposite end of the spectrum is neglect of tasks. Procrastination is a major barrier to the work from home and one of the reasons many people give up doing it in the end. Here’s how to stop falling into the trap of spending all your time of Facebook or watching daytime television.
The simplest strategy is to be mindful of how much work you have to do. You will be much less likely to waste time when you know what you must do and how long you have to do it. Most people use a simple spreadsheet with a weekly planner outlining how long each task takes to do. Windows computers have something called “Sticky Notes” which are just that – like the yellow sticky notes but for your desktop. Use them for task lists. It could be a work diary or an A4 sheet pinned to the wall broken down into colour coded red, amber and green (for urgency, for example).
Whether your work planner is on MS Excel, Sticky Notes or in your brain, you need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Schedule regular breaks away from the desk, even if it is just to sit and have a cup of tea or coffee or sifting through your post. Take a break from your workspace. When you build these breaks into your day, you are less likely to waste your time on frivolity and nothingness and you will give your brain the relaxing period it needs to wind down. You will come back refreshed, which is why businesses are legally obliged to give employees formal breaks. Don’t neglect these when working from home.
Have Tangible Targets
On a similar note, a target helps you focus. A clear deadline is good as it helps you plan better and procrastinate less. Targets are not just about what the client expects from you, it’s also about your social life. A target could be something like going out to the cinema in the evening or meeting a friend for lunch. These are just as good as goals go as they help you focus on your priorities. The satisfaction of finishing on time is a great feeling in itself. Alternatively, give yourself rewards for a good job done.
Plan Around Your Body Clock Or Other Priorities
Remember, the 9-5 work day is dead for you. If you’re an early bird, there is no reason you shouldn’t start work straight away when you have the most energy. Working 6am to 2pm frees up the rest of the day for you too. Similarly, if you are a night owl, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t start later and work into the evenings. The world is your oyster as far as working hours is concerned. Working in short bursts can also be beneficial. With nothing stopping you from taking a 4-hour lunch break, you can break your day up and reduce your capacity for self-distraction.
A Change of Scenery
It’s amazing how much of an impact your environment can have. You need an office space; simply moving to another room or sitting in the garden or on a balcony can do wonders for productivity. Many work from home business owners take extended lunch breaks to go to the gym or do their grocery shopping. There are two reasons: the first is that it helps the brain relax and recharge, the second is that the change of scene breaks the monotony.