You’re sitting in your home office, starting blankly at the computer screen. Your coffee is steaming hot, you’re sitting up straight, on that special ergonomic office chair – the one that guarantees good posture – and the door to your office is shut, ensuring silence. Everything’s ready for you to get to work, you’ve done all the research about how to get more done but you’re still distracted. Why? The answer might be hidden productivity challenges.
No matter how hard you try, productivity roadblocks are always lurking. But where are they? Here are a few areas to look at so that you can set yourself up for success every time you sit down to work.
Do you have a routine?
One of the key reasons many people work from a home or start their own business is to break out of the 9 – 5 routine. So why mention having a routine?
Working from home requires self-discipline. That doesn’t mean being inflexible but it does require you to be in the right mindset to work when you sit down to do so. It comes easily to some and for others, they need to add a bit of structure so they don’t fall into a productivity rut.
Try to set yourself some kind of schedule or at least have work-life boundaries. For example, set a time to get up every morning. You don’t necessarily have to start work right away but it’s good to get moving and change out of your PJs.
Go to the gym, run some errands, or go to the library or a cafe. Use this time out of the house to be productive so that when you return you’re already in that mode and can keep working.
By getting going it will signal to your brain it’s time to get to it and focus on priorities for the day. This will look different for everyone but find out what works for you and what puts you in the frame of mind to focus and achieve.
More productivity challenges: Your diet
Many of us turn to caffeine while we’re working, relying on the burst of energy it gives us. But does it work?
Short answer, yes but we need to be careful about a few things and ensure we fuel our bodies properly to keep energy and focus levels high.
It’s very easy to pop to the kitchen and graze on chocolate and snacks when working at home however maintaining a sensible and balanced diet is important.
Our brains require a lot of glucose to run efficiently. Unsurprisingly, not all glucose is the same. The refined sugars found in candy bars will give you a crash that decreases productivity. Also, refined grains have a similar effect as sugars. The body processes them as sugar as soon as they hit your stomach. So, crackers, chips and other processed snacks will really hurt your efforts to remain productive and on-task.
Nuts, fresh fruit, and foods with whole grains in them are ideal to keep you fueled up, clear headed and productive throughout the day.
What does your home office look like?
If you ever go through productivity training, you’ll learn that so much more than just your mindset goes into being as efficient as possible. The place where you do work can have a major impact.
A Human Spaces study of 7,600 workers from 16 countries found that when an employee had a natural element in their workspace, their feelings of well-being were 15 percent higher, productivity levels were 6 percent higher, and 15 percent reported feeling more creative.
Consider investing in your home office:
Natural light is important
Natural light is important Natural light can positively impact productivity. Offices with halogen or other unnatural lights drain your energy and can be pretty uninviting. Consider bringing in some plants or flowers to create an environment more conducive to work.
Try and be tidy (or tidier)
Many people are cluttered in both their work and personal lives and if it has worked for you so far, you certainly don’t need to eliminate it completely. Just consider getting a handle on any clutter you do have around as it could be among the lurking productivity challenges.
Ensure everything has a place and set up a system for dealing with papers, etc so you’re not wasting valuable time searching for things. Your office doesn’t have to be a minimalist’s dream but it should be organized enough to ensure it doesn’t impact your productivity.
While not practical for everyone, having a dedicated home office or at least workspace is important for overall productivity. It’s all about training your brain and associating sitting down to work with actually doing it rather than being distracted by chores or having a quick play on that game you’re addicted to.
More productivity challenges:
Do you need your cell phone or tablet?
This is a tricky one, as many of us need our phones and other devices to work but you need to find a way to discipline yourself. If you’re a fan of social media, make use of settings that prevent you from logging in at certain times. If you really can’t figure out what to do, consider signing up for a time management training workshop to help you figure out how to balance work and play.
For those with real social media addictions, you may need to go one step further and move your phone out of the room. You can find web versions of the apps you need so you can still work without the extra distractions. Leave the phone and Facebook for when you step away from work and take a break.
Because of their usefulness, we often don’t consider our phones to be a distraction but if we don’t rein in use, they can ultimately take away from our ability to do our jobs.
Are you ready to be more productive?
If you’re confused as to why you are still having trouble staying on-task in your home office, take a look around to see if any of these productivity blocks are hiding in your workspace. If so, weed them out and start introducing habits to help you be at your best all the time.