Since leaving my 9 to 5 to start my own business, I’ve been working from home mostly, but also keeping a few local coffee shops in business and meeting with clients at their offices, too. I’ve made the choice not to open a new office space and it’s been working out well.
For many marketers, consultants and startups, working from home is everything. For many others, it’s a luxury that employers are more frequently affording their work force.
In fact, studies consistently show that employees are more productive working from home. In a work-from-home experiment at Ctrip, a 16,000-employee, NASDAQ-listed Chinese travel agency, Nicholas Bloom and James Liang gave the staff at Ctrip’s call center the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. The rest worked in the office as a control group.
Working from home led to a 13% performance increase, of which 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute. The offer was rolled out to the whole firm and when more than half of all employees switched to working from home, the gains almost doubled to 22%.
While many people thrive working from home, others struggle with the discipline to keep productive.
In the quest to be supremely productive, we often do things which are ultimately counter-productive. When our office is within steps to our bedroom, kitchen and big screen TV, we can too easily fall prey to the numerous distractions that surround us. From throwing in a load of laundry to cooking a gourmet lunch and running weekend errands on a Monday morning, the working part, in working-from-home, can sometimes be the toughest part.
If you’re currently working from home, here are six hacks to help you achieve your goals and improve your productivity every day.
According to Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project, humans need to renew their energy levels at 90 minute intervals. This means the perfect performance ratio is 90 minutes of work followed by 20 minutes of rest.
I challenge you to pump out 90 minutes of solid work and take 20 minutes to rest, for the entirety of your day. When we give our brain optimal time to focus and the recovery time it requires, we set it up to function at its best.
This 20 minute rest time is a great opportunity to get that load of laundry in, whip-up a meal or head out for a quick run. Just remember to be back at your desk in 20 minutes for another 90 minute burst of concentrated work. You’ll be amazed at how much you accomplish!
Multitasking makes us less productive. That’s a fact.
It’s hard not to multitask given the amount of information coming at us all day, on a variety of devices, each one requiring our attention. It used to be a skill that people highlighted on their resume. But today, we know different.
Unfortunately, our brains aren’t wired for multitasking tasks that require comparable brainpower.
Focus on one thing at a time and dedicate a defined amount of time to accomplish the task. Once you’ve completed that task, move on. In the end, you’ll get more tasks done and each task will be better quality for it.
Start the Day Right
Get up early, shower and get dressed. Maybe even exercise before you start working for the day. This will help ensure you start your day fresh and energized.
Dragging your tired body from bed to your home office and working in your pajamas is a productivity killer. Just because nobody can see you, doesn’t mean you should do it.
The act of getting ready for your day boosts your energy and readies your brain for activity. It’s important to prepare for each work-from-home day the same as you would a typical office day.
Listening to music releases dopamine in our brains and lifts our mood. When our mood is improved, our performance increases and so does our ability to make good decisions. Furthermore, choosing unfamiliar music can maximize the positive effect that music has on productivity, prolonging your concentration time and enhancing your creative output.
I often turn to programs like Spotify or Rdio to find playlists that have been created to help improve concentration and focus. We’ve even built a Hustle Playlist on rdio – You should definitely check it out.
Leave the House
Working from home can get lonely and become mentally exhausting. Without the normal office chit-chat and daily human interaction, you can end up spending far too many hours creeping Facebook profiles and scrolling through Instagram just to interact.
Stay focused and productive by making time for connections.
Whether meeting with clients, colleagues or partners, or simply going to the gym on your lunch break, it’s important to escape the home office now and then so that the hours you spend there are highly productive.
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can only work from home. Every now and then head to a local coffee shop or library. Sometimes a fresh environment is the key to getting your creativity flowing and your productivity pumping.
Coffee fuels my life. It’s how I start my day and what keeps me going when the piles of work start reaching massive heights. Everyone who works from home should absolutely have a functioning brew machine and a bag of delicious grind in stock at all times.
Make it easy on yourself and subscribe to Hustle & Grind and get a 12 oz bag of our premium, fair trade dark roast coffee delivered to your door.
How do you boost your productivity, or keep it in check, when you’re working from home? Share your tips and proven hacks in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!