How to work from home productively

Working from home may sound like an idyllic existence. But it can also be fraught with issues that have the potential to derail your business. So how do you enjoy the flexibility of working from home without succumbing to distractions that can push your procrastination into overdrive?

When I moved house to an area that required a long commute to my office, I knew I had to create an environment where I could seamlessly work from home while still remaining an integral part of office life.

To complicate matters further, I also wear many hats. I’m a CEO, artist, curator and writer. All these roles mean I need access to different tools and technology. My home office is upstairs, my art studio is downstairs. I’m regularly at meetings so I also need access to all my files while I’m on the go.

While it was a challenge to start with, implementing these four strategies have skyrocketed my productivity.

1. Workstations that are ready to go

Setting up a work environment can be time-consuming, particularly if that means organising different software applications or, in my case, easels and paints in my art studio. It’s also an unnecessary “barrier to entry” which can lead to procrastination.

So, set up workstations in appropriate places so you can walk up to your desk/easel/kitchen bench and be ready to go immediately. In order to be efficient with my art I have five separate workspaces set up with nearby paints and brushes so that while I’m literally waiting for paint to dry on one piece, I can work on another one.

2. Make technology work for you

Keep all your files in the cloud so you can access them on any computer, from anywhere. I also have devices in all the key rooms of my home so I can answer emails or access files no matter where I am. Plus, my Apple watch is synced to my phone so I can answer calls anywhere without having to search for my phone.

3. Be ruthless with your time

It can be easy for friends to think they can drop in for a cuppa or your hairdresser to suggest appointments in the middle of the day when they know you work from home. But while working from home gives you flexibility, you also need discipline if you want to make the most of it.

Some of these appointments can suck a lot of time out of day. Create clear boundaries as to when you are working and stick to them.

4. Outsource home duties

When you work from home, it’s easy to think that you should also do the laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and other home-based activities. In fact, you probably even feel guilty if you don’t. However, is this the best use of your time?

If you can be more economically productive charging billable hours, then don’t hesitate to engage the services of a cleaner, home assistant, pool maintenance company or even a meal delivery service. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to do all these activities because you’ve chosen to work from home.

Ultimately, working from home can give you important flexibility when you need it, but if you want maximum output, you need good discipline, the right infrastructure and clear boundaries to make that happen.

Valerie Khoo, visual artist and CEO, The Australian Writers’ Centre

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