Photo (cc) by Ed Yourdon
One of my biggest challenges with working from home is getting the work done when my wife and son are around. The summer is especially challenging because there are more distractions. Even when the weather is not so nice outside, it’s still hard to balance work time against family time. Here are some productivity tips that I’ve found helpful…
1. Go with the flow
First, it helps to know how your family spends the day…yes, the routines. While there might be some exceptions, the rhythm doesn’t change that much from day to day. Plan your work around these known routines. For instance, I can always count on 9 to 11 p.m. as my “me” time – because my son has gone to bed and my wife is busy with her own activities.
Other than that, I schedule specific time to pursue work-related activities, and make sure my family respects these time slots.
2. Prioritize your work
Every day, I start off by making a priority list and do the most important things first. Since it’s very easy to get distracted by emails and other activities, this comes in handy. The priority list allows me to focus on what needs to be done – and quickly refocus if my mind wanders. Moreover, the list doubles as a plan for how much work I want to get done in a day and it allows me to keep my productivity level high by making sure I check off everything on the list before I retire for the day. If I don’t get enough done, I use the “me” time to help me finish off the last few tasks before the night is over.
3. Making time and space
In addition to knowing when to work, you should have a well-defined space for where you work. For me, I have a dedicated “office” in the lower level of my house. It’s a distraction-free space with no television, and I can’t see the street. My family knows that I’m not to be disturbed when I am in my office and the door is shut – because I’m busy working to earn income for them.
Even if you don’t have a dedicated room for an office, you can define your workspace. For a long while, my “office” was a computer desk in the corner of our bedroom – not ideal, but it worked.
4. Involve your family
You can also get your family involved with your home business if it makes sense. For example, my wife is active on Facebook and has a lot of friends, so she has been very helpful with marketing our website. Depending on your situation, you can have your family get involved with such tasks as filing, assembling products, answering emails and phone calls, and dealing with logistics (e.g., shipping and handling). When everyone is working together, it makes the whole business a little more fun.
For more tips about working at home, check out 5 REAL Tips for Working from Home and 10 Tips for Working for Yourself – Without Working Yourself to Death.