One of the coolest parts of working with Web-based technologies is that you can work from just about anywhere. The local coffee shop, pool-side at a remote tropical resort, or even in the comfort of your own home.
The problem with working from home is that it is also the place you have spent all of your time and energy into making comfortable and fun. This means distractions, and convenient escapes from the task at hand are readily accessible.
Many people that work from home face an unexpected decline in productivity. For many, the conveniences of home can make staying focused exceedingly difficult.
In this article, we will cover some quick hacks you can do to improve productivity while working from home.
Having a window in your working environment may seem like a distraction waiting to happen, but studies show that the natural light it provides has a positive effect on focus. Additionally, you can look up from your screen and out of our window to reset your focus and ease eye strain which can cause you to seek out distractions.
Suffering from a mental block? Studies show that by doing something as simple as looking at a tree can help the mind to look at a problem differently.
One common problem modern workers face is Computer Vision Syndrome which causes a series of uncomfortable physical ailments that are detrimental to productivity. By not only providing natural light that is better on the eyes, but also giving you something in the distance to focus on, you can work longer and happier.
There is an old saying that states, "clean home, clean mind."
A clean desk can actually improve your output while you work.
You don't necessarily have to scrub every nook and cranny of your house to clear out some of the mental clutter getting between you and the task at hand. By doing something as simple as clearing off any unnecessary items from your desk, you can eliminate many of the concentration-impeding elements from your workspace.
If you don't need something on your desk or within reach at any point during the day, put it somewhere else. Some of the most productive people in the world work from a completely bare desk with a keyboard, mouse, and a screen in front of them.
Office environments are designed to make important resources easy to access for workers. Think about how you would organize your office if you were working in a "normal" office environment. How would your manuals and binders be arranged? Just because you're at home and no one is complaining about your mile-high stack of papers doesn't mean you should have one.
The same principal goes for non-physical resources. If you are a Web developer, your code libraries and documentation should be bookmarked and made available as easily as possible. Consider an app like Dash which puts all of this content in one, easily searched place.
You can also use a software-based shortcut that makes navigating your files and applications easier. For OS X, there is Alfred.
You may not have a time clock to punch into when you work remotely, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep a regular schedule.
Unscheduled breaks, lunch, running errands, and other things like yard work shouldn't keep you from getting work done. It is very easy to let other things get in the way, especially when a certain task is tedious and time consuming.
Schedule breaks for yourself, and try to maintain a consistent schedule so your body and mind can become accustomed to maintaining productivity throughout the workday.
Consider keeping a calendar and/or a bulletin board to keep important deadlines and information at the ready. Having these visual reminders can keep things in perspective when the temptation to head downtown for an extended lunch hits.
Many of the most famous thinkers in history had regular schedules and daily rituals they went through which is widely believed to have been a contributing factor to their success.
You can use a service like Keep Me Out or a Chrome extension such as StayFocused which will restrict your access to attention-grabbing sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter during productive hours.
Having a television or some other visual distraction within sight can kill productivity. YouTube is also a major contributor to lost time during the workday. Consider instead an audio entertainment option.
Radio, music, and audiobooks can not only keep you entertained and awake throughout the day, but have been shown to actually boost productivity. As long as you're not spending too much time finding the right song to listen to, having audio streaming to your workspace is a much less distracting alternative to medias that demand that you both hear and see them.
We have written several blog posts outlining options and benefits of music and white noise solutions that help boost productivity. You can also check out our list of useful Chrome extensions which can help you get more done throughout the day.