It’s easy to believe that working from home is way more convenient than working out of an office. No battling traffic while commuting to work, being able to juggle work emails while fixing your husband’s lunch and being able to choose sweatpants over suits. But that’s just the pretty picture those cubicle-chained professionals, who want to believe that the grass is greener on the other side, choose to see. The reality: your maid thinks it’s okay to interrupt you when you’re on an important call, the doorbell always rings (especially when no one else is around to answer) when you’re wrapping up something urgent, you can't resist the call of the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and your sister just assumes you’re free to babysit her cranky two-year-old.
Can one get anything done in a setup like this? Actually, with a few ground rules and tweaks to your work environment, you can be the boss of your own workspace. Read on to find out how to be productive when working from home.
1. Wake Up Early
Get up an hour earlier than you usually do. Heck, get up 30 minutes before everyone else in the house, for a fresh jumpstart to the day. A well-paced morning, where you’re not scrambling to finish your coffee while also trying to meet a deadline, sets the tone for the rest of the day. Use the extra time to chart out a game plan for the day and step on it. And honestly, this holds true regardless of what your setup is.
2. Chart Out a Schedule
Illegible scrawls on the morning newspaper don’t count. Do yourself a favour and buy a diary. List down all the things you need to do that day. Better still, try and list down all your tasks for the week (at least the ones you can predict). Even if it’s just a follow-up email you need to send your client three days later. That way, if you forget something, you have only yourself to blame. Not your mother, brother, or postman who rang the doorbell at the wrong time.
3. Have 'The Talk' with Your Family and Friends
Once you’ve set your working hours, convey the same to your family and friends. Ask them to respect your schedule and interrupt only in case of real emergencies. That way your bestie will know that you are, as a matter of fact, not free to chat her up at noon, and your mother will know better than to disturb you when you still have a ton of things to check off your list.
3. Get a Secluded Workspace
Do you really think you’ll really be productive working in the living room when your grandmother is catching up on her afternoon serials? Lets face it — she’s not going to turn down the volume for you, especially when they are about to reveal who Simar’s lover is. So find a corner in the house where you can work in peace. If you don’t have the luxury of space to convert a spare room into a study, just make do with your bedroom. Install a small desk, add a soft board, a calendar and some stationery and you’ll be good to go.
4. Change of Scene
Staring at all those motivational posters you peppered around your work desk day in and day out can get a bit tedious. And we don’t blame you. Which is why a change of scene always helps. Pack your laptop, diary and phone and turn a corner table at a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi into your makeshift office for the day. Choose one that attracts fewer people so that you are not distracted by the constant chatter and noise.
5. Take Some Time Off
You spend so much time communicating with people via email and texts that it’s easy to forget what an actual conversation in the real world feels like. So for the sake of not turning into a dazed social pariah, cut yourself some slack and take some time off. Even if it’s on a Wednesday afternoon. Meet that cousin who’s in town just for a couple of days or head out to lunch with friends. You’ll be ready to complete your reminder to-do list with renewed zest after the break!
6. 'Leave' Work at the End of the Day
It’s easy to get sucked into a vicious 24-hour work cycle — one where you are replying to emails even at 1 in the night, because BitTorrent decided to play spoilsport while you were downloading a movie, and you have nothing else to do now. Don’t do that. Set a designated time after which you will not attend to work matters. It’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance for the sake of your own sanity.
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