1 | Find The Perfect Location
If you’re lucky enough to have space for a home office, which room you choose to set up in can be the most important factor with regards to productivity. For the most part, this will depend on what you want to use your office for. If you’re going to use it to set up business meetings with prospective clients, you’ll want an office as close to the front door as possible (no one wants to be led through the aftermath of your three-day Game Of Thrones binge in the lounge on the way to iron out business).
If you’re not lucky enough to have your own room, and will be working by yourself each day, make sure you claim an area of the flat/house/shoebox for yourself, even if it’s just a chair by the window, away from the general clutter.
2 | Organise Your Space
Just because you’re not sitting next to your boss, there’s no reason your desk should be untidy. Keeping your desk organised with ‘In’ and ‘Out’ trays will keep the work flow in shape, while removing personal clutter from your desk will keep you focused. Move around your desk décor at least once a week, to stop the view from stagnating.
If you really can’t do without that framed photo of your dog, you’ll be pleased to hear that an occasional glance at something personal can do wonders for your morale. Oh, and get rid of that clock before you do anything – glancing at the time is the worst way to remind yourself that you've only written ten words since lunch.
3 | Make Yourself Comfortable
If you’re going to be spending eight hours a day at home, there’ll be a strong urge to relocate to the sofa after 30 minutes worth of solid emailing. You need to fight this urge by making sure everything is ergonomically suitable for you. This means investing in a good quality chair (like a bed, it’s worth shelling out a bit more for one that will last you a long time) and a solid desk with plenty of legroom. Cutting corners now might save money in the short-term, but will harm your productivity later on.
4 | Act The Part
There’s no point setting up a home office that looks the part if you’re going to spend the day acting like you’re skiving. As well as setting designated office hours, you need to dress as if you’re heading into the office each day, from shirt to shoes. It’s also important to plan your day around deadlines as well as setting a realistic home schedule, which means cutting out longer breakfasts in favour of the rushed slice of toast you’d usually have en route to the office, and saying no to friends and family who think working from home means you’ve got time to sort out the gas bill while they’re in the office.
5 | Master The Art Of Email
While the fear of missing out on work can mean you’re constantly stuck in your inbox, it’s important to spend time actually getting on with the work to hand. One way to minimalise the amount of time spent answering correspondence is to brush up on your communication skills so that you’re able to get your message across clearly and concisely without the body language that typically helps smooth along face to face meetings. If this proves too difficult, why not take advantage of Skype? (definitely best to get dressed for this).
It’s also a good idea to set up a different email account to handle work-only messages, instead of getting distracted by those funny cat videos your mum loves to send over.
6 | Take A Break
While plowing through work may seem like the most productive course of action, it’s important to take a break every now and then to stretch, or talk to your flatmates/the waiter at the local coffee shop. This will provide a physical and mental boost which will help you be more productive upon your return. Plus, drinking plenty of water can help keep the mind focused and may stop you suffering a 4pm breakdown.
Keep healthy snacks to hand rather than trudging off to the kitchen every thirty minutes and you're good to go.
7 | Trick Yourself Into Staying On Task
When working from home, the elephant in the room often comes in the form of a widescreen television with full Xbox One capabilities. Obviously, you're going to have to ignore this temptation if you're going to get anything done, but without the threat of co-workers ready to grass you up the the Big Boss for wandering from your designated tasks, it's up to you to keep yourself on track.
As well as setting deadlines and displaying goals on a whiteboard/cork board, you can trick yourself into doing more work by setting a timer to go off every 25 minutes (then taking a five minute break), setting up shop near a natural light source, or painting the room green to reduce stress and improve concentration when reading. All of this is good for your circadian rhythm, or 'body-clock' and means you'll ward off fatigue more easily.
Most importantly though, the whole point of working from home is that you've become your own boss, so if that presentation you're working on really is getting you down, you no longer have to worry about a sweary office outburst, just go for a run/the cinema/nap instead. Work will always be there when you get home. That's the beauty of it.