It seems like in recent years idealizing working from home has become the new American Dream. I certainly understand the allure. I’ve been working from home since 2003. And I think I have heard every iteration of why it must be so nice for me. The assumption is that I get to sleep in every day, set my own hours, and wear yoga pants all day. It sure does sound nice, doesn’t it? If only all of that were really true. The number one thing I know for sure? Working from home is NOT productive for most people.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling busy but not being productive. Especially when you work from home. I battle that challenge daily.
Despite the fact I’ve officed from home most of past two decades, the struggle is real sometimes, sugarplum.
Whether you work from home full-time as a corporate employee. Or are trying to get a small business off the ground on our days off, everyone is susceptible to the pitfalls (and pratfalls) of working from home.
What is it they say about being forewarned is forearmed? When you understand the challenges ? The reasons why working from home is not productive for most folks? Then, darling, you can be better prepared. to beat the odds.
Here are twelve (somewhat) hidden reasons why working from home is not productive
One – The temptation to work on your couch – or worse, your bed – can be too irresistible. You and your business deserve some solid, sacred space to work.
Two – If your home office or workspace is not congruent with your goals, there will always be an underlying sense of being out of sync.
Three – It’s more difficult to establish and defend the boundary between work and life. This can be particularly true for those of us whose work involves communicating with clients and collaborators in different time zones.
Four – If you’re not leaving the house regularly, your personal grooming could fall on the wayside. Sure, no one will notice if you haven’t showered for a couple of days. Nor will they notice you’ve been wearing the same pair of jeans for the last three days. But, darling, YOU will notice. And the lack of pride in appearance can affect your productivity and performance.
Five – You eat lunch in front of the computer. Or replying to messages on your phone. Even if you lovingly pack a lunch for your kiddos or hubby? You will find you tend to eat….crap. You snack on leftovers or chips. Or your lunch is a mac ‘n’ cheese frozen dinner you found lurking in the back of your freezer. Because when you work from home, you may not consider meal planning for lunch.
Six – The people in your life – partner, spouse, kids, friends – think that because you work at home, then you are available to attend to every whim they think requires your attention. Worse, they might think that what you’re doing is somehow not as valid as a regular, 9-5 job.
Seven – You can’t recall the last time you saw someone other than family members. If you get excited when the UPS guy rings the door? Darling, you can begin to get lonely!
Eight – Your sleep schedule has been thrown completely out the window. You wake up too early and go ahead and start working. Bored? Insomnia? A project to finish? You end up working too late.
Nine – Because of your crazy sleep and work schedule, you find yourself too harried to take time to relax and get your day started gradually in the mornings, or to wind down in the evenings.
Ten – You don’t have a plan or a system in place that allow you space to get your work projects done efficiently. If you are honest, you haven’t given yourself ample room to take your dreams for the future of your work into reality.
Eleven – You don’t take time to prioritize the items on your to-do list. Part of the reason is because your goals are murky. Or undefined.
Twelve – You think that you will get more done than is possible, just because you have a commute. And you think there’s no harm in watching some Netflix. Or weeding the flower bed. Because you can do your work….later.
Just because working from home is NOT productive for most people? Remind yourself that you, my darling, are not “most people”.
Over the years, I’ve learned a myriad of ways to manage the pitfalls. Because deep down, I know that you want to be both productive and successful. You truly want to have those dreams of yours become a reality. Yet, that’s not always easy. Especially when you work from home.
But I’m not here just to throw a monkey wrench in your dreams of working from home. I’m not the kind of person who is going to poke holes in your plans and then skip away from you and your punctured dreams. How about some solutions?
Here’s eight practical solutions to the challenge of why working from home not being productive:
One – Start your working day the same way every morning. One of the most important things you can do to make working from home productive is to create a habit loop that tells your brain it’s time to start working. You can meditate or just have a glass of water and take your multivitamin while you wait for your coffee to brew, incorporating a small activity to get yourself ready for your day. The same goes for when you’ve closed up the proverbial shop for the day. Because you need to cue your brain that it’s time to get out of working mode.
Two – Get dressed and put on makeup! (And deodorant!) While the idea of working in your oldest pair of pajama pants might seem nice, working from home is NOT productive if you’re dressed for a laid-back day. Or like you just rolled out of bed. Dress and groom yourself as if you might run into a client or colleague. Or even choose a “uniform” of sorts for your work-at-home days.
Three – If you are the kind of person that needs people around? Or ambient noises in the background? Find a local cafe/Starbucks/library/co-working space where you can set up shop on regular days of the week. Even if it’s not every day. This gives you the benefits of going into the office – getting out and doing work surrounded by people – with the benefits and flexibility of working at home. Though it can be counter-intuitive, sometimes, we just need the motivation of other people working, too. That’s a huge reason why working from home is not productive for a lot of folks!
Four – You need to set boundaries around your work hours. That means you need to make it clear to your friends and family that your work time is for one thing: WORKING. That means unless there is a fire, a flood, blood, or other bodily harm, you are not to be interrupted. After all, those are the two reasons why your family would call you at work if you worked somewhere else, right? So there is no reason why you should be interrupted constantly just because the four walls of your office happen to be in your house.
Five – Give yourself a real lunch break. That means plan for lunch, just as if you were to go into the office. And, no, a real lunch break doesn’t mean sitting in your office and eating in front of the computer while you work. Get up, stretch, and head to the kitchen to make yourself a lunch with fruits and vegetables. Eat on the deck or go for a walk around your block. Breathe the fresh air.
Six – Make your working space ideal for working. That means setting up a workspace that is dedicated to work. That means ensuring your workspace is comfortable. Also, bring in beauty. Give your wandering eye something pretty to look at. If it helps, keep your vision board nearby so you can remember why you’re doing this.
Seven – Are you feeling groggy and sleepy? Step away from the coffeemaker for just a second and have a glass of water first. Studies have shown that most symptoms of brain fog and fatigue are actually due to dehydration (and drinking coffee, which has a diuretic effect on your body, is not the solution). Remember to drink water throughout the day, not just when you’re feeling foggy. And, just to confirm what I just told you, I had a nice tall glass of water a few minutes ago in the midst of writing this, and I’m already starting to feel a like a fully-functioning human again!
Eight – Take the time to set SMART goals. And review them frequently to make sure they are still true to your priorities. If things are deviating, make a decision to either adjust your goals or adjust what you’re doing to realign them with the goals.
Look, my dear. I know you want to make working from home both productive and successful.
That demands that you take a proactive role in ensuring you get your work done. Because you deeply desire accomplishing your dreams. You need extraordinary commitment and accountability, which might not be for some people. But YOU, my dear, are not “most people.” You’ve always been extraordinary.
You can turn those dreams of yours into your reality. And as a reminder, my dear, it takes more than dreaming to make that happen. It takes action!
Sure, working at home is not productive at times, but don’t let that get your down. Rather than letting past challenges of working at home color your future, decide it’s time to make working from home work for you. This choice allows you to use your past experiences as soft spots for improvement. When you decide you’re going to make it work, it allows you to make the necessary adjustments to your work habits, work space, and more. So that you can build a future that is uniquely yours.
This, my darling, is how you prove that just because working from home is not productive for most, that doesn’t have to be the case for you.
Though working from home is not productive for most people, you can change that. And I can help.
I know you want to be successful when you work from home. What if I could help you figure out the best set up – and systems – to being more productive?
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Looking to read more practical tips for being more productive (and focused) when working at home? Click here!