No matter if you dreamed to work from home – or it was thrust upon you- working alone has its quirks and perks.
You finally got rid of all those in-office interruptions. No more coworkers hanging around. No more 20 minute lunch with the gang that turns into two hours. Many less meetings. Now you’ve got interruptions of your own making!
Being productive when working alone as corporate folk at home or a solo entrepreneur means coming up with your own cures for lack of productivity. You’d really like to blame someone else but who is left? Sorry but it’s just you!
What you need are some tricks to stay on task, stay happy and not feel so alone. Productivity really boils down to the place, the pace and the person.
So often the problem in working from home is that home is the problem. You are on the kitchen countertop, dining room table and den sofa. You might even be on a yoga mat with you laptop in front of you as you downward facing dog stretch.
You really need a dedicated spot to work.
- Create an Office:If you don’t have a room you can dedicate to work, then find a spot in your house. Use the corner of the den, a piece of the guest room or a wall in your bedroom. Establish the illusion of privacy by creating a “wall” using a wall divider, a bookcase floating in the room or room screen.
- Get the Basics:Stock up on the basics of a work surface- doesn’t have to be a desk, a comfortable chair, and office supplies. A computer armoire might be just the ticket so you can close it and hide your work when off duty.
- Go for Comfort:Add a great lamp that reproduces natural light. Put in a rug so you can kick off your shoes. Use headphones to block out family noise or neighbors. Tune into some calm music. In other words, make your space a place you want to work.
- Stock Up:Stop wasting time by not having what you need. Make a list of all your office supplies and stock up so they are on hand.
Working alone can be tricky. Indeed, you may even fuss at yourself. “Got to get up earlier lazy bones!” In reality, setting the pace is going to be mostly about you although some deadlines will be thrust upon you. Meeting those deadlines with ease or with stress depends a lot on your pace.
If you aren’t as productive as you’d like to be, chances are you’ve forgotten how important a routine can be. Establishing one can help you go the distance.
- Have Work Hours:Establishing work hours are a good start for creating work-life balance when you work alone. Setting a start time is important in order to capture your most productive time of day. Setting an ending time creates space for you to feed both your soul and your body. The nice thing about working alone is you can tweak them when needed but stick to them in the long run.
- Get Visual:There are two areas that visual ques really help. The first is in meeting deadlines and the second is for staying on track. Use a white board or cork board to create a space for visual reminders. Post deadlines next to a calendar. Checking it each morning helps you keep an eye on the prize. Post a list of projects so anytime you feel off track you can remind yourself where you need to focus. If you have reoccurring chores, like a monthly report, set up pop-up reminders on your computer. Get visual.
- Be a List Maker:Keep a running to-do list. Every time you are distracted by a phone call or project, you can check the list when returning to work.
- Don’t be a Stacker:Piling and stacking is a huge waste of time. Working alone means you won’t be prompted by embarrassment to clean up your workspace. Now you need to do it because it makes you more productive. Use vertical file holders to sort out active projects. You’ll need a file drawer to hold finished work. Make a regular date with yourself to file and put things away.
Now that you’ve got the place and routine sorted out, the only thing left to sort out is you. Working alone can often make bad habits multiply. You might nip them in the bud if you thought someone was watching but left alone, they tend to bloom. Try some of these ideas to be the best you can be when working alone.
- Work as if someone was watching:You might be alone but you can be professional. You can meet deadlines and put out your best work.
- Take care of yourself:You won’t feel professional in your kitty cat pajamas. Make getting dressed, right down to putting on shoes, a part of your productivity plan. Brush you hair. Fix your face. Eat healthy.
- Be jealous of your time:It’s easy to go to extremes when alone. Don’t get sucked into the more and more cycle. Don’t just keep working. Eat a healthy lunch. Take regular breaks to take a walk or stretch. Balance working late with stopping early another day.
- Add in interaction:The best ideas come when you aren’t necessarily trying. Get rejuvenated by getting some interaction. If offered, take advantage of attending some meetings in person. Join a business group that meets at lunch or breakfast. Join an online chat for your industry. Find a mentor to hold you accountable.
- Switch it up:Instead of focusing so long on one project, alternate tasks. Work in the morning on one thing and a different one in the afternoon. Or alternate days. Find a way to keep things interesting.
- Change the scene:While I encouraged you to set up a comfortable, professional work space, it doesn’t mean you are glued there. Keep things fresh by changing the scenery. Head outside to work on a lovely day. Go to the library or hit a favorite coffee shop for a few hours of writing.
- Watch out for time grabbers:Be aware of websites and social media that eat up your time so you don’t end up at your desk but getting nothing done.
All in all, working alone can be a great perk – if you make it work for you. Be the most productive you can be by setting up a great work space and giving yourself all the tips and tools to make it work.