11 ways to be more productive while working from home

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Earlier this year, The CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, officially banned the company's employees from working from home. "Speed and quality are often sacrificed," was the explanation she gave...

Well it sucks to be them, because working from home can be brilliant.

There's no horrible time-consuming commute with that sweaty guy who gets on at Bishop Stortford, no irritatingly-specifically tea runs to do (what exact shade of brown does your boss like her tea?) and no migraine-forming strip lighting.

However, occasionally, we have to agree with Marissa. Sometimes the lack of a boss or office environment can cause your productivity levels to dip. If you work from home and have ever sat on your sofa in a dressing gown and scrunchie, taking a 'tactical break' with an episode of Murder She Wrote, then this advice is for you.

How to get the most out of working from home

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Set an alarm

It's not very sexy, but self discipline is the name of the game. And while you've got no boss tsking as you run down the corridor to your desk at 9:03am, it's no excuse not to start working at a decent hour. After all, you've had no commute. Come on - you haven't even brushed your hair. Shoddy.

Get dressed
Possibly the key to a productive day's work is to get out of your PJs and into something vaguely professional. No one expects you to sit at home in a power suit, but you can stretch to something that doesn't have Winnie the Pooh or jam on it. We'll let you keep the slippers.

The act of getting dressed signifies that the work day has begun. Also, there's no awkward scramble when the postman comes and you can't find a bra.

Get washed

Related to #2. There's literally nothing worse for productivity for an itchy unwashed head and a slight cheesy hum in your workspace - especially when that cheesy smell is you.

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Have work hours

Being at home and by yourself means there's a danger that your work day never quite starts and finishes. It may sound counterintuitive but don't check you emails as soon as you get up. Wait until your 'workday' starts. Ditto for the evening. After 6pm, computer goes off and work is over.

Create a schedule

If you're getting flashbacks to your A Level revision, then good. That's the sort of planning we're talking about here.

Set your goals for the day - this will help you to create a list and prioritise the tasks you need to get things done to achieve your goal. Track time with the apps like RescueTime or Get Things Done - or just write it down on the back of an envelope. Unlike your A Level revision, don't spend all morning creating and colouring a schedule.

Set up your work area

We can't stress this enough - your bed is NOT a workspace. Yes, it feels like the most heavenly place in the world, but you will not be your most productive there.

Trust us, it's practically Pavlovian - spending the day in your bed is going to make you feel tired and ready for a nap. It works the other way too - if you spend your days working in bed, you'll soon find it harder to drift off later in the evening - it will have become associated with your work. Doh.

Don't procrastinate

You don't have a line manager breathing down your neck and asking if you've made those calls/ finished that spreadsheet/ planned xyz, which is all the more reason to nip procrastination in the bud.

It helps to know what kind of a worker you are. Take advantage of the hours when your energy levels are highest. If you're a morning person, crack on with your big stuff first thing. If you thrive later in the day, tackle boring tasks like emails and invoices first to get them out of the way.

… But do take a break

Would you sit in the office head down, furiously typing for nine hours nonstop? All the tea breaks, little natters with your colleagues, trips to the coffee shop and popping out to get a sandwich are valuable.

There's also something to be said for taking a screenbreak every hour to rest your eyes. Take a lunch break, too, and appreciate the fact that you have a proper kitchen to cook yourself something nutritious and tasty.

Switch off the TV

And don't log on to website that have nothing to do with work (unless it's Handbag.com of course). If you find yourself unable to stop checking Facebook or Twitter, unplug your router. It's tough love, guys.

Office romance

Don't become a hermit

Avoiding irritating colleagues is one of the perks of working from home, but you don't want to turn into Tom Hanks in Castaway.

Making sure to connect with other people is good for your mental health. Make sure you leave the house at least once a day, to stop you feeling cut-off. Go to the shops, or go out and get a coffee.

Maintain regular contact with your boss, colleagues and clients to remind them you still exist.

Make the most of your free time

If you're spending your days at home, it's important to have other parts of your life where you leave the house. Join a gym or club, get a hobby that require you to leave the home, or meet friends in person.

And although you've got your home office space set up just an arm's length away, don't work during the weekends. That would just be madness.

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