This morning I read a great article by Stuart Crawford of Inkbot Design called 12 Tips for Increasing Productivity When Working from Home. It got me thinking about lessons I had learned from my own experience and thought I’d share some of those.
I have started a number of businesses from a home office and have also telecommuted for a Christchurch company until we got too big and had to move to an office, which meant rejoining the daily commuter grind. Here’s my take on the tips:
- Follow a routine. You may be able to be more flexible, but if you are serious, you are still going to work. If you listen to podcasts or read about highly successful people, they all have routines. They wake at the same time each day, they know when they are most effective and whether they are leaders of industry, writers or entrepreneurs, they have routines which work for them.
- Dress up. Some software developers might like working native, but I believe in dress for success. I wouldn’t wear a suit and tie if I am working from home, but I would still be smart. Of course working from home could also involve Skype or other video communications, so people may still see you. Bottom line is you are making a psychological commitment that reminds you that you are at work.
- Take breaks. Your brain works best when you totally disassociate yourself from your work. My favourite break, although a bit longer was a beach walk, which I used to do daily (I have always lived close to the beach). It could be a walk, playing guitar for 10 minutes. If your work is on a computer then best to leave that alone, because you’re likely to get distracted and get eye strain.
- Give yourself a deadline. I don’t know about you, but I work best under (good) pressure. A deadline will help you avoid distractions that are begging you to do something either unnecessary or not work related.
- Find similar people. You still need to socialise and how best to do that than catch up with other people having the same experiences. You can learn from each other and often help each other with tips and tricks and an appreciation of the environment you are working in. It’s always good to have relationships with people who are more experienced than you and of course successful. Don’t get your knowledge from people who aren’t doing it but have strong opinions.
- If you can handle the distractions, cafes and parks are a great place to work from and also a great place for meetings. Something about the ambience seems to encourage innovative thinking in meetings, or maybe it’s the caffeine.
- Stop multitasking. We try to tell ourselves that we can multitask and the hypothalamus is really good at managing autonomous functions concurrently, but when it comes to conscious activities we are not as adept as we think we are. We can train ourselves to do certain things concurrently like driving a car, flying a plane or playing a musical instrument, but try working on your business plan and budget at the same time as replying to an email, or taking a phone call and you will not be performing optimally at either task and if you do want to do them well it will take more time. If you still think you can multitask, Google for one of the many tests online. I’m not saying no one can multitask, according to this Infographic 2% of people can. Check it out, it might change your opinion.