By Jeff Haden – @jeff_haden
Tell people your schedule—and then “enforce” your schedule.
Interruptions are productivity killers, and when you work from home, your family and friends can be the most frequent sources of interruption. So be proactive. Share your schedule. Provide visual cues like shutting your door to let people know that you shouldn’t be interrupted.
Buy a great chair.
Working from home implicitly means you’re a knowledge worker. That means you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. So no matter what else you do, invest in the most comfortable and ergonomically-correct chair you can find. If you aren’t comfortable, you can’t stay focused and you can’t stay productive.
Ruthlessly set limits.
Generally speaking, we can focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a break so we can recharge. Split your day into 90-minute windows. That way, you’ll be able to work much more efficiently.
Include breaks in your schedule.
Your calendar should include scheduled break periods. Otherwise, your day will get away from you, and so will your opportunities to recharge. Never forget that the best recovery is active recovery.
Turn off your notifications.
Turning off alerts on your computer and phone will greatly improve your ability to focus on projects. When you need to get something done, turn off anything that might interrupt you, and then when you’re done, pop your head back up and see what you might have missed.
Adopt a productivity system.
Maybe one of the things you like best about working from home is the lack of enforced structure. That’s great, but unless you create your own structure, you’ll fritter away much of your day bouncing from task to task and mistaking things that seem urgent for things that truly important. Create a system that will work for you.
De-clutter at least once a week.
Purge, purge, and purge some more. Your workspace needs to look productive in order to be productive.
Create a nighttime routine.
Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information. Prime yourself to hit the ground running the next day. Knocking out an important task first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Create a morning routine.
Don’t dawdle, don’t ease your way into your morning, and don’t make sure you get some “me” time. Get up, clean up, fuel up, and start rolling.
Create a happy shelf.
When you surround yourself with things that make you happy, you will do better work.
Make your home office your home court advantage.
See your ability to conveniently do what you need to do when you need to do it as your home court advantage: if you want, you can leverage the efficiency to be more responsible and flexible than anyone else, and that can be a significant competitive advantage.