Five Productivity Tips for
Working From Home this Summer

For some, the arrival of summer brings with it a variety of reasons for remote work. Be it summer break for the kids or a flexible boss, working from home can be a wonderful experience for both employer and employee. However, it’s important to be fully prepared for the challenges you might face, such as having your documents e-filed or having all parts of your home organized for peace of mind. Just like working in an office, working from home has its upsides and its pitfalls.

A major problem is how to remain productive when there are so many distractions at home that can get in the way of your work. Stay on target with these five productivity tips that will help you stay focused and get the job done.

1. Have a Dedicated Office Space

Whether you have a room set aside to be your office or a section of a room dedicated to work, it’s important to have a place to “go to work.” Be sure to have all the office necessities there: a desk, a comfortable chair, computer and telephone, filing or storage solutions, office supplies, and adequate lighting. This room or space should put you in a work mindset, so when you go there you’re prepared mentally to do your job.

Your custom office space should appeal to your work ethic and mindset. While a TV is generally distracting, some people work better with background noise. You know yourself better than anyone – just be reasonable and practical about the setup.

In other words, don’t just pull out your laptop and work from your bed in your pajamas. That might put you in a state of mind to update Facebook or even drift off to sleep!

2. Set and Enforce Boundaries

When you’re working from home a major productivity-buster can be the people you live with. The child who wants your attention. The pet who wants to hop in your lap or go out for a walk. The friends or family members who call just to talk because you’re home. To combat these distractions, it’s important to set and enforce rules for when you are working from the comfort of home.

If you have a door, close it. If you don’t, try hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the back of your chair or set up some other notice that you are not available. Distractions are the downfall of productivity, and working without some healthy boundaries will cause more harm than good.

Post a schedule so others can see when you’ll be taking a break or are finished. Tell family not to call unless it’s an emergency. Enforce these rules from the get-go so they become a habit for everyone.

3. Set Regular Working Hours

Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed at 10 a.m. or take a two-hour lunch break. Schedule hours to work, just as you would in an office setting. Set your alarm, take a shower and get dressed, and eat breakfast before you begin work. This will help put you in a mindset for working, not lounging.

No matter your profession, there will still be deadlines to meet. Set reminders that you have responsibilities and stick to a schedule. Do take a lunch break, but keep it to a reasonable time, no longer than an hour. Take this opportunity to eat, enjoy the summer weather, spend time with family and friends or make those personal calls. If friends and family are adhering to the second tip, they will know that this is a time you are available.

4. Keep it Clean

It’s tough to be productive when your desk and office area is a cluttered mess. Be sure to keep your desk clean and clear of any clutter. Keep a trash can nearby to toss unwanted items and a filing system to keep your important papers organized. Have an in-bin for items that need your attention. Make sure only work-related items are in your office; no kids’ toys (which could attract the kids) or piles of junk from elsewhere in the house. Your office space should be for your work only!

At the end of each workday, take a few minutes to put things in their proper places so you have a clean slate the next morning, not a mess from yesterday to deal with.

5. Eliminate Background Noise

Noises and other distractions will kill your productivity. Crying children, noisy lawnmowers and email alerts can all jolt you out of what you need to be doing. Turn off all alerts and vow to check email only at certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning, before and after lunch, and at the end of your workday. Have your personal cell phone send all messages to voicemail during working hours.

If you live in a noisy household or neighborhood, consider a set of sound-cancelling headphones so you can truly work in peace. You can also invest in a good white-noise machine to replace distracting sounds with soothing ones, or run a small fan for the same effect.

For more tips on  how to make working from home a productive and convenient experience or for help organizing your home-office environment visit In Order to Succeed’s website.

 

Summer Planner Checklist for Students and Families

Now that summer is upon us and our children are off from school we have the pleasure and the pain associated with lots of free time. Although my 13-year-old has times throughout the summer where her schedule is booked with camps, classes, and structured events, there are those wide gaps where she has the freedom to choose what her day will look like. Her schedule is solidly booked during the school year, so summer is an opportunity for her to choose what to do during her downtime or to choose to do nothing at all and just relax.


Handle it Gently

Without being overbearing but at the same time wanting to create a sense of objectives, I sat down with my daughter to discuss the importance of her mapping out the next few months so that she makes the most of her summer break.

At the end of our efforts, we had developed a Google doc for her to complete that asked for the following considerations:

We asked her to set limits on the amount of time she felt appropriate for her to be connecting on social media or browsing the Internet, watching videos, or playing games.

We then asked her to determine what reading assignments or other school-related assignments she needs to complete over the summer and also pick out some books that she plans to read that are not part of her required reading. Similarly, we asked her to list other academic-related tasks that she will complete.

Another area that we felt would be helpful, was for her to identify the friends who she wants to connect with over the summer and perhaps write down times that she knows they will be in town or away. This would make it easier when we want to schedule and plan things or have spur of the moment play dates.


Take advantage of the time off

Summertime is a great opportunity when extra time enables us to try new things or work on improving things that we already do. With this in mind we asked for her to think about ways in which she may spend time learning new skills, trying out a new sport, or doing something that’s a little out of the ordinary and that she wouldn’t generally have the chance to do during the school year.

We then asked her to think of volunteer opportunities that she would be interested in participating in such as caring for animals at the Humane Society or being volunteer tutor or camp counselor to younger children.

There are also chores and family responsibilities we expect of her. Having those listed with frequency and times and when they need to be done is extremely helpful. This way she knows how much time there is for work and for play.


Continue after Summer is Over

Once our summer game plan is completed we add target dates and reminders on the calendar so that in addition to scheduled camps, theater productions, and taekwondo classes, our child has some reminders and a framework that she can use to navigate the goals that she has set for herself. Hopefully, our summer checklist and a calendar schedule will ensure that these activities and plans actually happen.

With all this said, my goal is not to overbook or over-stimulate her during the summer vacation but rather to keep her from falling into an area of too much time with not much happening.  Left to their own devices, it’s easy for our children, (just like it is for us) to lose track of time and spend endless hours on social media and idly staring at computers and televisions.

To optimally plan for the summer, I developed a tool to guide us which you can access via the below link. I hope you and your family find that it facilitates your children’s time, activities and priorities!

Denise Caron-Quinn

(Click here to download our helpful guide for your own plan