It’s 8 o’clock in the morning. You’re ready to get some serious work done as you sit down at your desk with your cup of coffee. You open up your laptop and dive into the day’s tasks. An hour goes by, and you’re on fire. Your fingers are dancing across the keyboard, first replying to emails then finishing up a proposal for a client. You’re completely focused and finish each task with the finesse of an Olympic fencer.
And then it happens. A chime. A child’s cry. A knock on the door.
What specifically breaks your concentration doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is that your zen-like trance is gone. You get up and tend to whatever has interrupted you, but when you return to your desk, you can’t get back into the same groove. Maybe it’s just a caffeine crash, but your productivity high is gone. You check your phone and see a new message from Emily. There’s a notification in your tray reminding you to do your morning stretches. The cat jumps into your keyboard and lies there waiting for belly scratches, and you give in. You work from home. You have all the time in the world.
Digital nomad jobs and working from home comes with the promise of flexibility and being your own boss. But anyone who has tried to get ahead of the workload by bringing stuff back from the office knows that the home is full of pitfalls and interruptions.
A recent two-year study by Stanford University reported definitive results that working from home can be more productive than working from the office. The study found that work from home employees’ productivity was equal to and sometimes greater than a full day’s work. The work from home control group also took shorter breaks and needed fewer days off. But how is that possible in a world of digital distractions and needy family members or pets? Implement the following productivity tips for getting work done in your home office:
Have the right tools for the job
The old adage goes, “A skilled craftsman never blames his tools” because a skilled worker knows what tools are the best for the job. If you work at home, no matter what your job title is, there are a few necessities that should not be ignored.
- A great chair. You’re likely going to be sitting a lot, so treat it like a mattress purchase: try out different styles and sizes. Make sure you’re going to be comfortable without feeling like you can fall asleep. Or go ahead, forego the chair and opt for a standing desk. Standing desks are a great way to add natural movement throughout your day without interrupting workflow.
- A spacious workspace. Try to keep it free of unrelated clutter, as an overflow of home life can take over the feel of a work environment.
- Reliable internet and backups. If you rely on fast and dependable internet connections, invest in a quality router and get a backup in case of service interruptions.
Create a workspace bubble
“Have a place you go specifically to work. It could be a certain table, chair, local coffee shop — some place that’s consistently your ‘workspace.’ It helps you get into the right frame of mind.”
– Sam Mallikarjunan, Author and Marketing Specialist
Just because you have a work from home job doesn’t mean you work just anywhere in your house. Think of your work area as a separate country. Keep your dogs’ squeaky bone off the chair and make sure the space is set up with everything you need. All professional chefs utilize a mise en place — a French term for having all your ingredients prepared and tools set out before you start cooking. It is a technique chefs use to assemble meals so quickly and effortlessly. Do the same for your work environment, and you’ll find your efficiency and productivity increase.
Stay on by turning off
“Three things that can get me out of the groove in an instant; inbox notifications, phone calls, and social media notifications. You like to think it will only take a moment to open and read the message or tell your sister you will call her back later, but before you know it, 30 minutes have passed. And this can happen numerous times throughout the day…Recondition yourself to check email, social media and voicemail every few hours when you are on the clock.”
-Angie Nelson, The Work at Home Wife
Notifications were supposed to just be just quick reminders in case we forgot to send out that critical email. They were never supposed to take over our lives! Go ahead, count all the notifications you get a single hour across all apps and email. You will likely be pulled into doing something else by the time you finish. Take the time to suspend the notification services from your phone and computer when you need to focus. You will thank yourself later.
Go crazy and get out
We can often forget that we are social creatures when working from home. After all, one of the main draws of working from home is to cut out the need to deal with bosses and coworkers on a daily basis. But don’t forget to change it up. Break up your day by going for a long walk or doing some exercise (to combat all that sitting!) Or try working from the coffee shop and spend your morning work hours around others. Sometimes you need a break from the screen to get back into focused work-mode.
I started teaching English abroad after graduating from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts with a degree in English Literature. Although I originally planned to teach in Cambodia for a year, I discovered I had a passion for helping students around the world achieve their academic, professional and personal goals through language learning. I’ve been an Alo7 tutor since April 2017 and am currently living in South America.
I am Chinese-Japanese American, but sadly, I’m not trilingual. I grew up in a relatively “Western” household–no Tiger Moms but plenty of fried rice and a healthy dose of Asian guilt. My favorite part of English teaching is getting the opportunity to learn about my students’ daily lives, traditions and customs, so I’m very excited to be writing about Chinese culture on the Alo7 blog!