Why is it so damn hard to be productive from home...
Is it because you’re lazy? Because you just can’t work without someone telling you what to do? Or is it just you?
Are you doomed to fail?
My guess is none of the above. In fact I think, no, I know you can be a productive beast at home.
It just takes a little for-thought and preparation that’s all.
And this article is going to show you exactly how to do it. Simple, actionable advice on how to be productive from home.
Are you ready?
1. Remove Distractions
Your home is a hot-bed for distractions.
Even the smallest things can cause you to lose concentration completely and snap you out of any deep work. In fact a recent study by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine found that it takes on average 23:15 minutes to get back into a state of deep work!
Here’s some of the major causes of distractions around the home:
It’s no wonder we find it so hard to be productive from home.
So what’s the answer?
The best antidote to negate the impacts of all of these distractions is to create what I call a deep-work sanctuary. A dedicated place in your home where you can work, free of distractions.
Here’s what I recommend.
First up you want to scour your home for a new deep work area that you can lay claim to. It doesn’t need to be a fancy office or even an entire room, in fact it could even just be a corner of a room.
But what it does need to be is a space that's used solely for deep work, and nothing else. EVER!
So, before you decide, here’s a couple of things to consider:
- Try and choose an area that has a door so that you can shut out any kids/people disturbing you.
- Having a workspace with a view is nice don’t get me wrong, but it’s not always a good idea if the view is full of distractions eg. people walking by, cars driving past etc. So bare this in mind when choosing your new deep work sanctuary.
- Treat yourself to some nice lighting, it’ll help you concentrate.
- Ear plugs - get yourself a set of noise cancelling earplugs. They’re cheap and damn effective.
2. Bad Habits
How often do you go to open the fridge door each day? Go on be honest.
That’s an example of a bad habit right there.
Here’s how it works when it’s broken down.
If I go in the kitchen > Open fridge.
Likewise, if I hear a notification on my phone > pick it up (and then spend 20 minutes scrolling through instagram).
You see, habits are subconscious ‘if this, then that’ decisions and all too often they put us on auto-pilot even when it isn’t in our best interests.
But there are ways to use these subconscious ‘if this, then that’ decisions to create good habits too.
Here’s an example.
When I open my computer to work > Close all open tabs, turn off email, put earplugs in.
Notice how the good habit isn’t necessarily to be more productive, instead it’s focusing on a few simple, painless actions. The byproduct of these actions will be more productive work.
Think about what bad habits you’ve picked up over the years and see if there’s anything you can do to stop them. And search for ways you can introduce new good habits into your life to increase your productivity whilst working from home.
Have you ever tried to be productive when the room around you is an absolute mess?
Does it drive you nuts?
If yes then you’re not alone.
Clutter and mess in your home is like kryptonite for deep work. No matter what you do, there’s always this lingering, pestering, nagging need to clear it up.
So you know what the answer is? Just fucking clear it up.
But, here’s the trick…
Do it before you sit down for a deep work session.
This alone will transform your ability to get shit done from home.
Tip: Why not create a good habit to address this problem. When you finish working > clear up your workspace and leave it immaculate and clutter free ready for your next session. Simples.
4. Environmental Cues
Environmental cues are triggers within your environment that can lead to specific actions (preferably good ones).
Here's a few environmental cues that I use to stimulate myself into a productive mindset at home.
These are just a few examples that I've been using as part of my personal deep work system from home and it's by no means complete.
But why not try out some of the above, and experiment in your own working environment to see if there's any environmental cues you can benefit from in your workspace.
If you want to be productive from home, with all of the distractions and everything that goes along with it, you’ve got to remove the guilt of obligations around the house.
Let me explain.
If you’re living with other people - wife, kids, friends - then you’ll inevitably feel obligated to break your work to give help elsewhere.
But here’s the thing.
Until you value the work you’re doing and place it at the top of your list of values, you’ll constantly be drawn away to obligations elsewhere.
Here’s what I recommend.
Whatever you feel obligated to/for get it out of the way before you sit down to work. Now that might be playing with the kids, doing the washing up, hanging the clothes out etc. But if you can free up these things from your consciousness before you hit your work desk, you’ll be able to work deeper for longer.
For some reason there’s often a guilt that’s associated with working from home - especially if you have family.
Here’s what I mean.
It’s weird I know, but when you leave the home to a normal job you get kind of a free pass. It’s kind of like everyone understands that when you’re at work, not to disturb you.
Working from home on the other hand…
It’s crazy. If your friends know you’re working from home they’ll pop by and expect a chat. Your buddies will expect you to return calls or messages. Your family will think it’s ok to interrupt your work to ask a menial question.
You constantly break away from your work. You get pissed off. And then you try and shut these interruptions out.
All of this leads to a bucket load of guilt.
And that’s got to change.
To remove the guilt you first need to reframe the work that you’re doing. The work you’re doing is important. If you don’t do it, no-one will.
Think of all the people you’ll be letting down if you don’t fulfil your mission.
Think how many people will be harmed without the help you’re able to give.
Aligning your work with your mission will eradicate guilt and allow you to work guilt free in the knowledge that you’re serving the world in a bigger way.
If your friends and family don't see it this way, then hey, that's on them not you.
7. Batch The Shit Outa Everything...
I love batching. I batch everything I can. It just makes sense.
Here’s what I mean by batching.
Batching is the act of grouping tasks so you can do them all at once, instead of constantly switching between tasks.
I try to batch as many things as possible, and I suggest you try it too.
You get the picture.
By batching tasks together you create efficiencies along the way.
You can thank me later!
Having the freedom to work from home can be one of the most liberating feelings ever, however, it doesn’t come without its pitfalls.
Procrastination, lack of self discipline, overwhelm… you name it.
And as you can see there’s a lot more to being productive at home than first meets the eye. Let alone staying productive.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
The first step is acknowledging where you’re going wrong, and the next step is fixing it.
With all of that being said these are just my top tips on how to be productive at home, but I’d love to hear from you!
What steps have you taken to increase productivity at home?
Let me know in the comments below.