On Productivity and Smart Habits of Working from Home
“I work from home.” comes up in conversation regularly for me and before I can add anything else – maybe I was going to say, “I am at my computer 16 hours straight.” (which is an exaggeration but has been known to happen) or “I am building a business and raising three children.” (Only the former of which is true but you get the point) – I invariably hear a huge sigh of envy!
People immediately associate working from home with profuse luxury and abundant freedom. There is something mysteriously delicious about the idea of having total autonomy over our time and effort. There is a perception of doing all play and little work when no one is watching. Working from home is such a great shift from the standard Western lifestyle that it remains nothing more than a mystery for many and to try to convince anyone otherwise would be a herculean act.
Today, I am taking on that herculean act – inasmuch as a blog post allows me to express.
First things first: Productivity, my dear friends, is all in your mind. No environment is going to make you productive if you do not intend to be so. And no environment can stop a racing mind and a determined heart from achieving its goals, be it a bustling cafe, a quiet home, or an office filled with distracting co-workers.
Productivity lies within you.
It is an inseparable part of who you are and how you operate. It is an intention you set at the start of your day and while you may need to renew the intention a few times, the inner purpose remains strong and unchanged.
Working from home does not make anyone more or less productive. Just as working from the office does not promote or demote productivity.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give up working from home for the shiniest corner office in Manhattan or San Francisco. (And only if I hear Tokyo or Sydney will I even consider a negotiation from my current state of affairs.)
Even though productivity is innate to who you are as a person, working from home has its fabulous perks as compared to working in the office, all of which you can insanely leverage to your advantage. Quite simply, different environments mold to different personalities better; they impact motivation, affect overall mood, and adjust comfort zone levels.
First, determine whether you can adopt the mindset for working from home in order to be super productive.
Working from home is not for everyone. If you have worked anywhere for a number of years, expect a huge shift in your habits before you can fully take advantage of working full time from home.
For me, productivity is in my DNA. It is who I am and how I measure my success as a human being. Being productive is essential to my daily routine. Yet we all know the natural ebbs and flows in motivation, all of which can greatly affect the state of being productive. Our intentions may be rock solid but life gets in the way and it is those times when working from home can seriously hinder our productivity.
So beware and be prepared to handle the ebbs in motivation when working from home.
How you deal with the ebbs depends on your style, your character, your personality, your goals and your approach to work as well as your overall philosophy about life. Yet I believe these 5 smart habits that have helped me might also prove valuable to you.
1. Establish an “office” space: Most of us can do all our work from a laptop with a soft phone application or a cell phone. Complete mobility is total freedom and you can use it when need be such as running off to a teashop for a meet up or working from another city for a week but when home, I suggest you establish a corner as your office and do not move it.
2. Develop the best working routine for your personality: Some of us work for ourselves and some of us work for an employer from home. Telecommuting, the term used in corporate America for working from home, may very well impose certain restrictions on your hours such as attending live conference calls. Schedules be what they may, try as much as possible to have a set routine rather than just going with the flow of work because during slow times, you will experience dips in your productivity without a routine in place.
So establish a routine that suits your personality best for your most productive hours. Know whether you do your best in the mornings or evenings. Know whether a lunch break or a mid-afternoon break is more important to you. Know when you need to exercise and spend time with your family. Know your personality and develop a routine around it.
3. Moderate your weak tendencies: We all have them. Weak tendencies are when we lose our laser beam focus and crave an escape from productivity. For me, I love to stay connected with my entire global network. I also love to eat and make tea fifty times a day! So rather than deny myself the pleasures which bring me joy and happiness, I am aware of them and use them to reward myself for small milestones. I make my first cup of tea and do not leave my desk until my xyz tasks are done.
First, call out your weak tendencies, then embrace them because playtime is important, and then moderate them by using them as rewards for when you reach mini milestones during the day or the week.
4. Set up and respect your breaks: All work and no play makes no sense. It is no wonder I was an unhappy camper the first few years of my career. Do not commit this mistake because I do not have enough space here to delve into the significance of playtime even for the most serious entrepreneur or employee among you. If you want to last a long time, you must pace yourself.
Funny enough, a balanced work habit yields the smartest productivity. The stubborn among you ditches the breaks to get more and more done – I know, I lived in that zone for too many years – but I urge you to develop this habit early. Breaks are imperative to a productive and creative mind.
The type of breaks you take is also important so let your breaks feed your creativity and relax your mind. My favorites: Reading Tolstoy in the patio with a cool drink in the summers and meditation sessions in the piano room in the winter. You pick yours and after your break, you return to work rejuvenated and ready to conquer your world once again.
5. Make time for “Targeted” Networking: One big adjustment to working from home for me was the immediate absence of in-person networking. I love being in the company people and thrive on the social networking in my daily life. Working from home can seem like a lonely affair until you realize that this is the best opportunity to create your ideal network.
Harsh as it may sound, deep down, none of us wishes to network with just any one (and neither does everyone out there wish to network with us.) In an office environment, you are exposed to a fixed group of people and conversations and relationships naturally stem with this group. In the world of working from home, you have the amazing opportunity for what I call “targeted” networking. You target exactly whom you wish to develop a relationship with and you meet up in person or on Skype or on the phone. You build your ideal network and feed your “in-person” craving with the right people.
With the right mindset and smart habits, you can embody productivity at its best by working from home.
Farnoosh has a love for writing, traveling, yoga, communication, raw foods, photography and personal development and explores these elements and more on Prolific Living, a blog about Smart Habits for Rich Living.
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