People who work from home have one of the toughest jobs in the world: staying productive. It’s easy for people to stay productive when they know they are being watched; less so when left to their own devices. The facility of getting distracted by television, telephone calls from friends and colleagues, family members, or incessant emails boggles the mind. The trick lies in knowing how to stay focused until each day of work comes to a close.
Have a Plan
Stay productive by having a plan for each day. Many people have what they call “to-do” lists. Write down what needs to be done, including work-related errands, then start doing them. If you prefer to do your least favorite jobs first, do so. Some people prefer to save them until last. Either way, stick to the list and mark off each task as it is completed. This really helps you have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
Each person’s plan or “to-do” list takes on its own form. Grouping similar tasks together and take care of them all until they’re completed represents one of many. Listing tasks in order of importance- if this is necessary- represents another. Knowing how to prioritize aids productivity, too.
Create a Schedule
Having a set schedule also helps a person to stay productive. Whether eight hours are required or more or less, create a schedule with a set start time, break times- including lunch- and a set finish time. Once you establish your schedule, stick to it. Eventually, you will follow it automatically.
A schedule can take on any form you like. You break the day down into hours, minutes or blocks of time that are devoted to particular tasks. What matters is that the schedule feels comfortable to and doable for you.
This is especially important as a photographer as you typically have a few core days of the week where you are booked out. For example if you are a wedding photographer then Friday, Saturday and Sunday are usually very busy. You need to have a schedule to ensure you get the rest of your work done in the days you are in your home office.
Distractions come in many forms: television, telephone, email, family, pets. If you can lock yourself away in a quiet room, do so. Unfortunately, most people don’t have this luxury. Alternatively, you can let everyone know- including colleagues who often call with questions- that you can’t be disturbed for a certain amount time. Ignore emails- disable auditory or visual alerts- and turn off your telephone, if necessary.
Sometimes giving in to distractions like emails and telephone calls from co-workers or colleagues make people feel like they’re getting something done. It’s just an illusion. Staying productive really is the biggest challenge telecommuters face from day to day. A little discipline and some careful preparation can go a long way toward making that task much less daunting.
Also published on Medium.