Home Office Productivity Tips

The number of people that work from home is increasing. It’s convenient and cost effective but unless you create routines, boundaries and organize your space, productivity can suffer greatly.

Commuting and water cooler chats are major time drains at the office. Both also have their upsides, but home office dwellers don’t have that option to consider and may as well use the time saved to their advantage. Here are a few tips to keep the work and creative juices flowing from your home office.

Create routine

This is arguably the most important tip, especially for folks without built-in routine generators like kids, pets or significant others. Try to mirror the work schedule of your colleagues at the office, generally 9-5. At Rocket Matter we employ the Agile Daily Standup meetings and that gets the day off connected and informed.

Take breaks

Getting up in the middle of a busy workplace to do a 5-minute yoga routine or a progressive muscle relaxation de-stresser may seem a bit odd to some, but a home office provides that luxury. I rarely sit for more than an hour at a time on any given project, including the researching and writing of this blog post. The Pomodoro Technique goes well with taking breaks. Work undistracted for 25 minutes, take a break, and dig back in for another 25 minutes.

Set boundaries

Anyone who’s worked from home can relate to the quick call to hang out or do a favor since, well, your time is flexible. Sure, your time is not as rigid as a traditional office setting, but your circle needs to know right away that your availability doesn’t extend that far, or else you’ll end up scrambling to get work done at midnight.

Establish a workstation

Most productivity gurus will tell you to have a separate work-only room but that’s of little help to those who live in New York City studio apartments or shared larger apartments. Instead, identify a space that will house a desk, chair and a couple of drawer/storage units. Preferably near a window with lots of light. Some people say it distracts, but I’ve tried different locations and the window onto the light and life out there enhances productivity and makes for a more enjoyable engagement. Use this space only for working. When I use my MacBook later in the evening for Facebooking or reading, I move it to the couch.

Mix it up

Get out of the house occasionally and work at the local library, coffee shop, the park or pier. No, this does not contradict the first tip of creating routine. Work this into your routine. If you don’t schedule these work forays, they’ll never happen. Going out and working from other locations keeps you moving, engaged and not chained to your desk, leaking productivity by the hour. You have the flexibility. Use it!

Oh, and hit the gym at lunchtime instead of later in the evening. It’s not as crowded, breaks up the day and re-energizes for the second half of the workday.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/typefiend/3839262372)

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