Home offices serve many purposes: a place of concentration; a place of work free of interruptions; or perhaps where you earn your income. Regardless of the specifics or uses, there are some universal truths to consider when working from home.
One of the problems is how much time we spend in a home office.
Even though we typically pledge to be more productive around this time of year, work efficiency still lags behind our potential. Admit it—you could be accomplishing more tasks at work to be more productive on any given day.
So, what should you emphasize in your first few promises to yourself? Why not pick something that will help you in the long run? High productivity at your home office usually means two things: higher earnings and more time away from the office. How much time do you spend preparing for work?
We look at 6 powerful strategies that will increase your efficiency in your home office.
Claim a Space
The first step to having a productive home office is to actually have an office. You need a spot in your home that is exclusively yours and ready for work whenever you are. This should not be your family computer room or a laptop sitting on your couch. Make a small desk—if you have experience using hand tools you can even convert a closet into an office.
Fixed Working Hours
You should set working hours to maximize your efficiency. Perhaps you’d prefer to work only 9 to 3 a day since you’re being so efficient, or perhaps you don’t. Unless your parent company dictates your hours, you get to choose what hours you work.
You need to maintain your hours as well. Be sure to begin working at 8 in the morning and finish around 5 if that is your set time.
Plan Tomorrow’s Work Today
Whether you are a web developer, graphics designer, or business expert, you should never leave the office without being ready for your next workday. This can be as blatant as opening up the document you need first thing in the morning, or as subtle as creating a quick to-do list in Outlook or Notepad and leaving it on your laptop. As can a small paper notebook. Preparing work ahead of time will help you get started quickly and have fewer distractions.
Take a Break Once in a While
Generally, an hour’s worth of work can be completed. Break your work up into hour long blocks if you can, or at the very least set a timer to remind you when you’ve worked an hour. After one hour, hop up, fix yourself a drink, do some stretches, and get your blood flowing again. Take no more than ten minutes and get back to work. Long breaks are known to cause loss of focus.
Use a Time Tracker
Another great feature online is the digital timer that’s available for your computer. Set a timer online, or just an Excel Spreadsheet will do, and then you can get working without also trying to keep an eye on the clock. You can either set a timer to interrupt you so you don’t get distracted or interrupt yourself with your timer.
Do a Weekly Cleanup
After you have things down to a system of schedules and minimal distractions, continue to organize your home as much as you can. Consider, for example, every Friday before you shut down the computer for the weekend, taking fifteen minutes to organize your most recent files on the computer, to take out the trash and to run the vacuum so that everything is fresh and ready when you come back on Monday.
To Sum Up
Often what works for one home office is ineffective in another. The best way to determine what is most effective and most efficient in your home office space is to simply try different patterns and routines until you find what makes you feel you’re getting the best results. At the end of your busy day, you should leave your home office feeling accomplished and ready to relax and enjoy your time off—there is no FaceTime in a home office!