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Working from home can be an absolute pleasure and luxury, and it can also be much more efficient. However, this isn’t always the case. There is a potential for many other challenges you may face before reaching your productivity peak. So how do you stay focused and productive when working from home? Here are five easy-to-follow tips to help you master working from home.

1. Create a functional workspace

Working from the kitchen table or living room is not a practical working environment, and it can stifle productivity. To maintain focus, your office should, where possible, be separate from where the household hustle and bustle occurs. Even when the house is empty, sitting in the kitchen will likely lead to additional housework and more cups of tea than ever!

Make sure to carve out space for your ‘office’. You may not have a spare room, but ideally, your working area should be away from the household hustle and bustle to maintain focus. Create an inspirational space where you WANT to work. Get a comfortable chair and a nice desk, and surround yourself with things that motivate you. Your working environment is crucial to creating good working habits and success.

2. Set your working hours and stick to them

Working from home has many perks, including flexible hours. However, it’s easy to push back your start time, finish early or allow yourself to be interrupted. Setting fixed working hours (whatever they might be) and discussing them with your family will help you adapt to working at home.

For instance, some people prefer to split their day into morning and evening hours to drop off and pick up kids from school. Working hours such as 9:30 am to 2:30 pm and 8 pm to 9 pm can help you to do this. Alternatively, you might prefer to start early and finish your working day by 2 pm.

It’s totally up to you which hours you choose. Just be sure to stick to them!

3. Reduce distractions

Reducing general distractions around the home is crucial to being productive when working from home. If you were in the workplace, you would be less likely to take non-urgent personal calls or have your children or partner pop in to ask questions. Manage expectations and set boundaries by explaining to your family and friends that your work is just like any other job and you need to be left alone during work hours.

A technique many find helpful is to hang a sign on your office door or even the back of your chair, saying ‘Do Not Disturb’. And be disciplined at sticking to it! Once you finish your working day, flip it around, turn off the computer, and enjoy your home and family life.

4. Make a to-do list

Procrastination is a sneaky, never-ending demon monster. Every day, before you start work, create an achievable to-do list. This will help keep you focused, driven and on track. If you feel the urge to procrastinate, get distracted, or ‘don’t feel like it’, your list will help you stay on track. Using to-do lists is common practice in the traditional working environment and should be at home as well to help you stay focused on your tasks and goals.

5. Prevent yourself from feeling isolated

Working from home can be very isolating, even for those with a partner and a household of children. It is essential to stay in contact with work colleagues, attend regular networking events to meet people and stay stimulated. Loneliness leads to inefficiencies, Facebook checking and procrastination. It might seem odd, but boredom and solitude lead to idle thinking and demotivation.

Working from home should be a gratifying experience, but just as importantly, it should be productive. I’d recommend getting dressed and ready for work as you usually would. This simple act helps indicate to your brain that it is a working day and can make an enormous difference in focus and productivity levels.

If you’d like to find other ways to increase productivity and efficiency, check out some of our other productivity articles below.

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Author: Gemma Rolstone | Published 5th May 2016.