You can picture the scene right? As you leisurely roll out of bed around 11am you put on your slippers and stroll into the kitchen. As you make yourself a cup of coffee you check the days news and enjoy a bowl of cereal. After about an hour or so you remember that there was something that you had to do that day. Oh yeah, work. That’s right. You turn on your computer and check a few emails and browse the web. After about 15-20 minutes you close down your laptop and stretch your arms up into the air as you pat yourself on the back for finishing a hard days work. Then the cycle repeats itself throughout the week with the only change being how much creamer you put into your coffee. Does this situation sound realistic? Hardly. If anyone tells you that they are able to work in this way and make it then they are not telling you the half of it.
For those of you that have worked from home or currently are working from home you are aware that it can pose it’s own unique set of challenges. Even though many think that they would love to work from the comfort of their own home and control their schedule the way that they like there is much more to consider. In this post we’ll be sharing some tips from what we’ve learned about how to remain productive when working from home over the past few years. My wife and I are both online teachers and we also are involved in other businesses that are solely online. As you can imagine this affords great freedom in many ways such as schedule, time management, convenience and more. But there are also challenges especially for ones who may tend to procrastinate or who are not naturally self-motivated. So let’s begin with our top 3 tips in no particular order on how to get the most work done in the best way possible from home.
1. Get Dressed
While it may seem great to spend the whole day in your full body Mickey Mouse PJ’s as you conduct business there are actually some downsides to this. Even if you don’t have to present yourself to someone via webcam like we do at times while teaching it pays to dress up. When we first started teaching we would just wear our house clothes and then wear a professional looking top so that our students would get the impression that we looked the part. While this seemed practical at times it was not helping our minds to switch into work mode. We still thought that we were in ‘lounging around the house’ mode and this affected our work. What we do now is at the beginning of the day we take a shower and then dress as if we are going to go to work at a normal job. At one point I was even wearing a tie, although now I just wear a button up shirt or polo with work pants. Kanicia often wears a smart top and even puts on makeup at times. Why do we go through all of this “trouble” even if we aren’t going anywhere? For one thing our students receive a professional experience and they appreciate it. Second it does a lot for us psychologically by switching us into business or work mode. We are more confident and we are in the right frame of mind. After work we change into our non-work clothes which helps us to relax.
2. Do Physical Movement
This one may seem obvious but it’s often overlooked. When we started working as online teachers we had crazy marathon hours where we were working sometimes five, six or more hours straight with only a few minute breaks in between. This can definitely take its toll. Now we are much more balanced and we don’t work more than three hours in a row without taking a three hour break and we don’t work more than six hours in a day. So this tip is to remind you to physically get up and move your body. Go outside on your deck, walk around the house, take a walk outside. Anything that will snap you out of looking at the computer for a few minutes. Why is this beneficial? It helps clear your mind, allows you to refocus and you can exercise. After sitting for a while we like to stretch. This is something we usually do after every hour. We also like to take a snack break just like you would do in a normal office except without the water cooler banter.
3. Block Disturbances
This one is such a big one. If you are supposed to be working on something it is so easy to get distracted by a funny video, a news story or your friends text messaging you. We’ve gotten a lot better at this one but we still have a way to go. I’ve noticed that it’s especially difficult to keep focused when you aren’t interacting with other people such as a student but you are working on a project, blog, or something else online. One way that I’ve found to be effective is to time yourself. If you time yourself for 25 minutes and commit to working for that entire time with no distractions (Social Media, Email, Messaging, etc,) what you’ll find is that you’ll get a lot more done! At the end of the timer you can reward yourself with five minutes of whatever you want to do then just repeat the cycle. In this way being productive and getting stuff done is like a game in a sense.
We hope that these tips to stay productive while working from home can help you. Working from home is great and I think it would be hard to go back to commuting or working in an office but it’s not to say that it’s not with out its challenges. If you are interested in teaching English or another language from home like us click here to find out more. Have a great week and we’ll see you back here next Sunday! 🙂