As a freelance contractor who works from home, probably the question people ask me the most is “how can you get any work done at home?”
Well, it can be a challenge, and working from home is not for everyone. But, here are my tips.
1. Listen To Your Body’s Clock
The one big thing I discovered after working from home is that working eight or nine hours in a row is pretty inefficient. The human brain just can’t maintain peak performance for that long without breaks (at least mine can’t). So, I take many breaks throughout my day. Here’s my general work schedule.
The Morning Burst
I discovered that the period of time immediately after you get up is when my brain is at its peak. I am amazed at how much work I can get done during this time. (What a shame it was to waste much of this optimum brain time on the morning commute!!)
The Mid-Day Siesta
After breakfast and my morning burst of work, I have lunch and take a long break. For me, the after-lunch afternoon food coma has always been my least productive time. At work, I’d have to struggle to stay awake with coffee and tea, and get very little done during this time.
Many cultures in Europe, Latin America, and Asia have “siestas” during this time, and for good reason. Several factories that I visited in Asia take 15 minutes after lunch where they turn off the lights and the workers put their heads down on their desks, just like we did pre-school, but it works!
So, I use this inefficient time to shower, run errands, and do household work. These things don’t require a lot of concentration, and they need to be done at some point in the day, so why not in the middle of the day when you’re least productive at work?
After the food coma wears off, I have another burst of productivity in the late afternoon. I generally work from around 2PM to 6PM in the afternoon.
Exercise, Dinner, Socializing
I then take a dinner break at around 6PM. Maybe go out with a friend or something. Or, if there is nothing social going on, I go for a jog before dinner.
Night Owl Worktime
Depending on what time these events end, I usually have another burst of productivity before bed. Sometimes I work from 10 PM until midnight, rounding out my work day nicely.
So, there you have it: a full 8-hour work day, plus a two-hour break in the middle for errands, and time in the evening for your social life or exercising!! Since I have frequent breaks, I’m refreshed and ready to go when I do work. I’m not forced to work 9 hours in a row.
Everyone is different – this is just what works for me. Listen to your body and brain to find your optimal work schedule.
2. Shut Off Distractions
Studies have shown that it takes up to five minutes for your brain to recover from an interruption. Shut off all email popups, IM message alerts, etc. on your computer desktop and phone. If you really need to concentrate, close your email application altogether.
It is also important to have a quiet area of your home to serve as your office. I live alone so there are very few interruptions. My productivity would not be so good if my home was a chaotic mess with kids and pets running around, noisy neighbors, or other interruptions. If that’s the case for you, it might be good to work in a coworking space.
3. Get Kickass Equipment
After I started making more money in my business, I bought huge new monitors, replaced my desktop computer, and bought a new laser printer. Don’t be afraid to spend money on equipment that you use every day if it will make you more efficient. Plus, working with kickass equipment makes your job so much more enjoyable!
4. Make a To Do List
This is critical for me to stay on track. I usually make before the end of my work day so I’m ready to go in the morning.
5. Eat Well
Working from home enables me to make my own food instead the high-fat fast food I used to eat. No more vending machine snacks either. I’m able to have good, healthy food when my body needs it which keeps my energy up.
One of the biggest benefits of working from home is being able to schedule in exercise time, something that was almost impossible when I worked a corporate job. Exercise helps your brain function! I’ve even solved problems while out on a walk or run!
7. Be Social
I’m pretty introverted so I actually love working alone at home. But, I still do like people, and it is important to get out of the house and talk to another human being, so be sure to make that happen!
It’s Not for Everyone
Working from home is not for everyone. You have to be self-motivated. You have to judge this for yourself. If you stay up till 3AM playing video games every day, you might not be a good candidate to work from home.
If you need a lot of social interaction every day, working from home might not be for you. Personally, I love not having to deal with a lot of people, but some people need that interpersonal interaction.
But, if you can overcome these hurdles, working from home can be very enjoyable and efficient!
Send Your Tips and Tricks
Working from home with flexible hours can benefit all aspects of your life if you can make it work. Let me know about your tips and tricks to stay efficient and productive at home! – Brian