"You work from home? Well, aren't you lucky!" This is a common phrase that I hear but with most scenarios, the grass is always greener, right?! I've been working from home for about two years now and although there are many perks: working in your PJ's, doing laundry on your lunch break, independence and working from remote locations, I have found the biggest struggle to be lack of motivation and creativity, organization and missing human interaction on a daily basis. I have recently started co-working at Vuka Austin and love it for the beautiful interior, complimentary coffee and beer and friendly peers, but prior to this, I ventured out to many a coffee shop. My personal favorites for best cappuccinos, wifi and quiet work areas are: Buzzmill, Fair Bean, Cherrywood Coffeehouse (delicious food here, too!) Patika and Flight Path. In lieu of me sharing my tips, I asked a close friend, Matthew Averkamp, to share his best practices because he is a pro when it comes to rocking at the work-from-home game.
Working From Home Tips and Best Practices
Tools for Eliminating Distractions
The hardest part about working from home is probably distractions, with social media being the hardest habit to break. I use programs like Anti-Social and Freedom, or browser extensions like Stay Focused (Chrome) to block out time-wasting websites. I’ve even experimented with parental control software like Qustodio to maximize control over which websites/programs I have access to throughout the workday. Find what works best for you.
Tools for Your To-Do List
To-do list software is essential, especially when you’re on the go and need to jot down your ideas. I use Producteev to organize all of my tasks by project type and importance. There are tons of to-do list apps other than Producteev, so find what works best for you.
Time Doctor is another one of my favorite programs for keeping me on task and tracking my time. Time Doctor follows the same principles as “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy, which is probably my favorite productivity book (break your day into small tasks, do the most dreaded tasks first).
Set a Maximum Number of Hours and Stick to It
Limiting the number of hours I work per day has probably been the single greatest factor in increasing productivity at home. Again, when I use Time Doctor to track my time and organize my tasks, I tend to spend more time on the things that will have the biggest impact on my business.
Outsource Anything That Somebody Else Can Do
Having great freelancers to knock out your to-do list is a great feeling. Most importantly, it allows you to focus on what you do best. Over time, using sites like Elance and UpWork, you’ll have a great list of go-to freelancers that you can count on when the time comes.
Getting tired and crashing is another huge hurdle when working at home, especially when your comfy bed is just a few steps away! Here’s a few things I do to stay energized and motivated:
1) Drink caffeine that doesn’t make you crash (matcha tea instead of coffee)
2) Eat small meals throughout the day instead of a big breakfast/lunch.
3) Increase your heart-rate anytime you start to get tired or unmotivated. I hop on my exercise bike, but anything cardio-related would work.
4) Go outside whenever possible.
Change Your Surroundings
When I need to focus I tend to stay home and use my desktop. But when I have creative projects to work on or need to do some brainstorming, I enjoy co-working with friends at cafes around town. Mixing it up is always nice.
Learning about ergonomics has been a huge help in my ability to enjoy working at home. Spend the money to modify your setup and protect your health. I guarantee all of us could improve in this area, especially laptop users. Take this quick course to evaluate your setup: http://demos.articulate.com/guru/2009/Prometheus/player.html