Working from home comes with a lot of benefits, and it's something that many people hope they can do someday. There is plenty to love about it. You can save money on gas and time from not having to commute. You can dress how you like and possibly even set your own hours. You can get things done around the house during your breaks and avoid the pitfalls associated with navigating the outside world.

While all of this can be great, there is a misconception that working from home is a walk in the park. In reality, it presents its own set of challenges, especially if you share your home with others. Working where you can live can present a fair amount of distractions, and if you aren't good at managing them, your productivity can suffer. Here are some ways you can get more done.

1. Start your workday is early as possible

You may get to set your own hours, depending on the type of work you do and the people you work with, and that might seem like a good opportunity to start each workday later. Sleeping in may sound appealing, but the later in the day you start, the easier time can run out. If you start bright and early, you have a much better chance of finishing up earlier while also providing yourself with more time if you end up needing it.

2. Try to stick to a schedule

No matter what time you ultimately decide to begin your days, try to create a regular schedule and stick to it. This will help you stay on track and reduce your risk of having to work later than anticipated or not being able to get everything done that you need to on a given day. Don't just schedule your work times, but schedule your breaks, as well. Schedule a break for lunch and at least two other smaller breaks so that you can give your brain multiple chances to refresh and also have time for a walk or exercise.

3. Set up an office or dedicated work space

If you have an extra room in your home, use it as an office. Set up a desk or work area that has all the equipment you need for a successful day's work and do all of your work from that area. If you must sit to work, be sure to stand up from time to time to give your back a break. If you don't have the room for an office, set up a dedicated work space in a room you do have. Even if it's just the corner of a room with a desk, it's the place you can associate with getting things done. Maintaining an office or a dedicated area can also get you a break at tax time with the IRS’ home-office deduction (consult your CPA or a tax advisor).

4. Treat your work-from-home environment as if you weren't working from home.

It's easy to get caught up in any number of personal situations while at home, but if you pretend that you're not actually in your home and put all of that off until you're done with work, you can save yourself a great deal of distraction. The laundry can wait, and having the TV on will only make your workday last longer.

5. Make sure your family understands when interruptions need to be minimized

If you have a family, chances are, the bulk of your daily distractions come from them. This is especially true if you have young children. Make sure your family understands your work schedule and that they shouldn't interrupt you for trivial things during your specified work times. Small distractions that occur repeatedly throughout the day can add up.

6. Don't allow unscheduled visitors during work hours

Make sure your friends know about your work schedule as well to prevent visitors from popping in when you should be focused on your productivity. Consider investing in a “smart” doorbell like Ring that lets you answer the door and screen visitors without actually getting up.

7. Screen your calls

Chances are you'll get many non-business phone calls when you’re trying to work at home. If you still have a landline at home, ask your phone provider if they offer a voicemail service, then route all calls to it when you’re working. On your cell phone, screen your calls and mark solicitors as spam. Many service providers allow you to set your cell phone on “Do Not Disturb” except for specified numbers (for example, your spouse or your child’s school). To help cut down on phone solicitors, sign up for the Do Not Call list for all phone numbers you have.

8. Make good use of cloud-based software

Cloud-based software has become more and more common across workplaces, but it's just as helpful, if not more so, for those working from home. This provides you with remote access to the tools you need from your home or anywhere else you're able to take your computer or mobile device and log in.

9. Turn off non-work-related notifications on your phone and computer

Your biggest source of distraction likely comes from your pocket, especially if you have a smartphone and use any social media services. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can wait unless your work directly makes use of them. Just mute your phone's notifications while you're working and turn them back on when you sign off for the day. The same goes for your computer if you have notifications enabled. Resist the urge to leave the social media sites open. Or catch up with these during your lunch break.

10. Have a backup location

Finally, have an alternative location for work in case your workspace is unavailable or becomes inconvenient. You may experience a power outage, internet issues, or just a particularly distracting day at the house. Have a place in mind, such as your local library or internet cafe, as a place to work away from home.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC