Five Productivity Tips for Working From Home

Working from home can be a wonderful experience for both employer and employee; after all, it saves the company money and saves the employee from commutes and other office hassles. However, it’s important to be fully prepared for the challenges you might face, such as having all of 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 office chair, computer and telephone, filing or storage solutions, 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.

In the same way that a custom trade show booth appeals to an audience, our custom office space should appeal to our 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 work space.

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

2.    Set and Enforce Boundaries

A major productivity-buster when working from home is 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.

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 at the moment. Distractions are the downfall of productivity. Working without boundaries to eliminate distractions is like a roofer without fall harness protection – it’s going to cause more harm than good, even if ‘boundless’ environments seems appealing.

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 work from home, it doesn’t mean you can roll out of bed at 10 a.m. or take a two-hour lunch break. You should have scheduled 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.

Maxwell Systems is an example of how businesses can actually keep tabs and track workers via technology/software. Depending on our line of work, companies are able to make sure we’re hitting our goals and daily tasks. Keep your software open at home as a reminder that you have responsibilities and they’re being logged in a database.

Do take a lunch break, but keep it to a reasonable time, no longer than an hour. Take this time to eat, take a walk, spend time with family 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, get yourself 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 type of effect.

By following these tips, you can make working from home a productive experience and make the most of your home-office environment.

6 Productivity Lessons from Efficiency Gurus

When it comes to productivity, we can learn a lot from the gurus who’ve reached incredible levels of discipline and diligence. Gurus such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and similar entrepreneurs can teach us a few important lessons.  Find value in the trials and tribulations of these gurus, ensuring we’re not blindly approaching our work, lives, and dreams.

Oh, did I forget to mention the more efficient we are, the more time we have to enjoy a stress free vacation? Okay, let’s jump into it!

Embrace Simplicity

When it comes to simplicity, many entrepreneurs have succeeded in making their career in productivity that much easier. Sometimes the best way is the simplest way. For example, while Bill Gates might have been building computers, he did not try to overwork on his idea and make the first several computers overly advanced. Starting out simple, he made a device that was both widely usable and simplistic in nature. From there, he slowly began advancing forward – adding complexities one step at a time.

Microsoft member, Ray Ozzie, had this to say, “Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges and it causes end-user and administrator frustration.”

The reality is we’re not sitting in the same seat as Bill Gates; however, we’re part of a picture that makes bigger dreams come true. Think of a car and all the parts involved. What would happen if we didn’t make the wheel vintiques? We wouldn’t get very far. As a co-worker likes to say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Use Apps to Take With You

The power of smartphones and tablets is becoming one of unstoppable force. Taking the place of many modern laptops and computers, you will be able to take your work with you on the go. Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, own your own business or just a student – you can benefit from utilizing apps. Many business-savvy people utilize it – and Steve Jobs swore by it. Utilize tools that are literally at our fingertips.

By taking advantage of productivity apps such as Evernote, Checklist, Mindnode and Pocket, we’ll boost our productivity levels in seconds.

Set Realistic Goals and Write Them Down

Every day when you come into the office or classroom, you need to make sure that you write down a list of what goals you expect to achieve for that day. Whether you have a large presentation or paper due, you need to log it somewhere (phone, post-it, or email reminder).

Writing tasks down always persuades us to complete them. It’s like an itch we just have to scratch. Everyone has their own goals for the day, so just be thorough and do not make unrealistic expectations. Overloading our task-lists will just lead to an onset of stress and headaches – something that will be more of a roadblock than a catalyst.

Write Down Inspirational Quotes

This one might seem a bit odd, but we often forget inspiration is one of the most potent fuels keeping our motor running.

Finding motivation to keep productive can come in many forms and, for some, inspirational quotes will make an amazing asset. Reviewing these inspirational quotes whenever you are feeling defeated or down will help remove all distraction and doubt from your mind and push us to move forward. Sometimes life can just be daunting and these simplistic quotes can be exactly the confidence boost or glimmer of hope we need to push forward.

Keep Social Media to a Minimum

Unless you are visiting Facebook, Instagram or other social media outlets for business-related purposes, keeping off of them is highly suggested. As many efficiency gurus might suggest, you need to take yourself away from personal habits that will inhibit productivity, social media being one of those outlets. “You need to learn that you have a job to do and that it will not get itself done – so it is up to you to do it.” – Suggested by Ekatrina Walter, an Intel Innovator

There are so companies where social media isn’t even an option, such as working for a hydraulic equipment supplier. In fact, we could probably learn a great deal about efficiency from companies like this who can actually boast highest turnaround times. That means they’re entirely committed to getting jobs done efficiently, without any distractions.

Learn to Multitask

Multitasking isn’t for everyone, but for those who can juggle various duties simultaneously, your free time will skyrocket. Monster has a great article on multitasking, suggesting we optimize it rather than maximize. The main takeaway is to make tiny adjustments – don’t completely shift gears. Stay in your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to bump the workload a bit.

Thanks for reading and good luck! Do you have any other lessons we can learn from to become more efficient? Please share below!

Author: Jesse Aaron is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing. He writes on a variety of topics on his blog, Mashbout. Follow Jesse on Google Plus.

 

How To Be Productive from Efficiency Gurus

When it comes to productivity, we can learn a lot from the gurus who’ve reached incredible levels of discipline and diligence. Gurus such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and similar entrepreneurs can teach us a few important lessons.  Find value in the trials and tribulations of these gurus, ensuring we’re not blindly approaching our work, lives, and dreams.

Oh, did I forget to mention the more efficient we are, the more time we have to enjoy a stress-free vacation? Okay, let’s jump into it! Here’s how to be productive.

Embrace Simplicity

When it comes to simplicity, many entrepreneurs have succeeded in making their career in productivity that much easier. Sometimes the best way is the simplest way. For example, while Bill Gates might have been building computers, he did not try to overwork on his idea and make the first several computers overly advanced. Starting out simple, he made a device that was both widely usable and simplistic in nature. From there, he slowly began advancing forward, adding complexities one step at a time.

Microsoft member, Ray Ozzie, had this to say, “Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges and it causes end-user and administrator frustration.”

The reality is we’re not sitting in the same seat as Bill Gates; however, we’re part of a picture that makes bigger dreams come true. Think of a car and all the parts involved. What would happen if we didn’t make the wheel vintiques? We wouldn’t get very far. As a co-worker likes to say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Use Apps to Take With You

The power of smartphones and tablets is becoming one of unstoppable force. Taking the place of many modern laptops and computers, you will be able to take your work with you on the go. Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, own your own business or just a student, you can benefit from utilizing apps. Many business-savvy people utilize it, and Steve Jobs swore by it. Utilize tools that are literally at our fingertips.

By taking advantage of productivity apps such as Evernote, Checklist, Mindnode and Pocket, we’ll boost our productivity levels in seconds.

Set Realistic Goals and Write Them Down

Every day when you come into the office or classroom, you need to make sure that you write down a list of what goals you expect to achieve for that day. Whether you have a large presentation or paper due, you need to log it somewhere (phone, post-it, or email reminder).

Writing tasks down always persuades us to complete them. It’s like an itch we just have to scratch. Everyone has their own goals for the day, so just be thorough and do not make unrealistic expectations. Overloading our task lists will just lead to an onset of stress and headaches,  something that will be more of a roadblock than a catalyst.

Write Down Inspirational Quotes

This one might seem a bit odd, but we often forget inspiration is one of the most potent fuels keeping our motor running.

Finding motivation to keep productive can come in many forms and, for some, inspirational quotes will make an amazing asset. Reviewing these inspirational quotes whenever you are feeling defeated or down will help remove all distraction and doubt from your mind and push us to move forward. Sometimes life can just be daunting and these simplistic quotes can be exactly the confidence boost or glimmer of hope we need to push forward.

Keep Social Media to a Minimum

Unless you are visiting Facebook, Instagram or other social media outlets for business-related purposes, keeping off of them is highly suggested. As many efficiency gurus might suggest, you need to take yourself away from personal habits that will inhibit productivity, social media being one of those outlets. You need to learn that you have a job to do and that it will not get itself done so it is up to you to do it. Suggested by Ekatrina Walter, an Intel Innovator

Suggested by Ekatrina Walter, an Intel Innovator

There are so companies where social media isn’t even an option, such as working for a hydraulic equipment supplier. In fact, we could probably learn a great deal about efficiency from companies like this who can actually boast highest turnaround times. That means they’re entirely committed to getting jobs done efficiently, without any distractions.

Learn to Multitask

Multitasking isn’t for everyone, but for those who can juggle various duties simultaneously, your free time will skyrocket. Monster has a great article on multitasking, suggesting we optimize it rather than maximize. The main takeaway is to make tiny adjustments don’t completely shift gears. Stay in your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to bump the workload a bit.

Thanks for reading and good luck! Do you have any other lessons we can learn from to become more efficient? Please share below!

Author: Jesse Aaron is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing. He writes on a variety of topics on his blog, Mashbout. Follow Jesse on Google Plus.

 

3 Ways to Stay Productive While Traveling

Traveling. Some people love it, some people hate it and others do it as required. But no matter how you feel about traveling chances are at some point each year you find yourself sitting in a busy airport terminal waiting for your flight to begin boarding.

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure there are a few things you can do to stay productive while you travel. Here are three tips:

Have a List of Tasks Ready

There’s a lot of waiting while traveling and sometimes even delays. Keep on hand reading or reference material, and contact management tools so you can make use of small parcels of time by making appointments, returning phone calls, or responding to emails.

Schedule Time for Phone Calls

There’s a reason for your travels and it’s probably not to spend the entire time on the phone. Set aside a time to return calls and stick to it unless it’s an emergency.

Pack Ahead of Time

Frequent travelers should have a carry-on case packed with basic necessities ready to go. This keeps you organized and stops you from worrying about what you might be missing. When traveling with kids make sure you give yourself time to pack for them several days in advance.

In Order to Succeed, is a full-service professional organizing and project management firm serving private individuals and business owners throughout New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. In Order to Succeed works closely with clients helping them to live, work and move in productive, organized and stress-free ways. In addition to helping her clients prepare for travel, President of In Order to Succeed, Denise Caron-Quinn is a frequent traveler herself and had some tips on staying productive while traveling for business or pleasure. Find In Order to Succeed on Facebook and on Twitter.

How to Stay Productive While Traveling

Traveling. Some people love it, some people hate it and others do it as required. But no matter how you feel about traveling chances are at some point each year you find yourself sitting in a busy airport terminal waiting for your flight to begin boarding.

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure there are a few things you can do to stay productive while you travel. Here’s how to stay productive:

Have a List of Tasks Ready

There’s a lot of waiting while traveling and sometimes even delays. Keep on hand reading or reference material, and contact management tools so you can make use of small parcels of time by making appointments, returning phone calls, or responding to emails.

Schedule Time for Phone Calls

There’s a reason for your travels and it’s probably not to spend the entire time on the phone. Set aside a time to return calls and stick to it unless it’s an emergency.

Pack Ahead of Time

Frequent travelers should have a carry-on case packed with basic necessities ready to go. This keeps you organized and stops you from worrying about what you might be missing. When traveling with kids make sure you give yourself time to pack for them several days in advance.

In Order to Succeed, is a full-service professional organizing and project management firm serving private individuals and business owners throughout New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. In Order to Succeed works closely with clients helping them to live, work and move in productive, organized and stress-free ways. In addition to helping her clients prepare for travel, President of In Order to Succeed, Denise Caron-Quinn is a frequent traveler herself and had some tips on staying productive while traveling for business or pleasure. Find In Order to Succeed on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tip Day Wednesday: 6 Ways to use Twitter Efficiently

twitterEach Wednesday In Order to Succeed‘s blog features at least one tip on organizing, time management, moving and relocation, balancing home and business or well anything else we think you will find helpful. This week’s Tip Day Wednesday is about using twitter for your business. Twitter can be a wonderful resource. You can use it to connect with people in your field, share news, and promote your business but it can also be time draining. Here are some tips to use twitter more efficiently to promote your business:

  • Create Twitter Balance. Let yourself feel fine if you don’t post for a couple of days.
  • Set up tweetbeeps.com. Use it for keyword searches so you can contact others in your field.
  • Establish yourself as an expert, and provide valuable tweets by linking. But only link to helpful, original, relevant articles and/or websites.
  • Be careful of over promoting yourself. Don’t only tweet to promote yourself. A good rule of thumb is that 80 percent of your tweets should not be about you. Twenty percent or less should be self-promotional.
  • Use some sort of advance tweet. We use futuretweets, but there are many such as TweetLater. If you spend 15 minutes every morning setting up your tweets you know you will have some during the day even if you don’t have time to go back and check twitter. Remember the tweets should be original and relevant even if your setting them up in advance.
  • Don’t over retweet. You should only be retweeting high quality links around 3-5 a day at the most.

Further Reading
Follow In Order to Succeed on Twitter
Follow In Order to Succeed tweeters on Twitter
Image via flickr by Mykl Roventine
Check out past Tip Day Wednesdays for more tips.

Tip Day Wednesday: 6 Ways to use Twitter for Business

twitterEach Wednesday In Order to Succeed‘s blog features at least one tip on organizing, time management, moving and relocation, balancing home and business or well anything else we think you will find helpful. This week’s Tip Day Wednesday is about using twitter for business. Twitter can be a wonderful resource. You can use it to connect with people in your field, share news, and promote your business but it can also be time draining. Here are some tips to use twitter more efficiently to promote your business:

  • Create Twitter Balance. Let yourself feel fine if you don’t post for a couple of days.
  • Set up tweetbeeps.com. Use it for keyword searches so you can contact others in your field.
  • Establish yourself as an expert, and provide valuable tweets by linking. But only link to helpful, original, relevant articles and/or websites.
  • Be careful of over promoting yourself. Don’t only tweet to promote yourself. A good rule of thumb is that 80 percent of your tweets should not be about you. Twenty percent or less should be self-promotional.
  • Use some sort of advance tweet. We use futuretweets, but there are many such as TweetLater. If you spend 15 minutes every morning setting up your tweets you know you will have some during the day even if you don’t have time to go back and check twitter. Remember the tweets should be original and relevant even if your setting them up in advance.
  • Don’t over retweet. You should only be retweeting high quality links around 3-5 a day at the most.

Further Reading
Follow In Order to Succeed on Twitter
Follow In Order to Succeed tweeters on Twitter
Image via flickr by Mykl Roventine
Check out past Tip Day Wednesdays for more tips.

Organizing News: Friday Week in Review

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Friday is Week in Review Day: Catch up on all the cool tweets, blog posts, articles of the past week, and email us any organizing news or chatter you think we missed.

5 Business Productivity Tips

3008764974_73d0b9c7deA productive business is a successful business While much has been written on how to make a business productive what works for one business might nor work for another. With that in mind here are five of In Order to Succeed’s favorite business productivity tips. Share your favorite business productivity tips with us by commenting below or emailing us at info@inordertosucceed.com.

 

 

 

Tip #1 – Keep a sense of humor
Work can be stressful, but a great way to ease tension is to keep a sense of humor especially when things don’t go exactly the way you want.
Tip # 2 – Let nature into your office
Let natural light into your office and keep a plant or two. Allowing nature in your office is great way to improve the mood and feel of an office.
Tip # 3 – Write down the things you have to do and prioritize them
Start your day by writing down everything you have to and want to accomplish that day then order them by importance.
Tip # 4 – Take care of papers immediately
File, Act, or Toss papers and emails as the come across your desk and into your inbox instead of letting them pile up. Make a decision on papers and emails immediately.
Tip # 5 – Organize workspaces for space and quite
Situate office workspace to allow each person to have a quiet place to work with minimal distractions.

Image from di_the_huntress’ photostream.

 

3 Time Saving Tips

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1. Check it off: Write a to-do-list for any task you do regularay: preparing for a meeting, drafting a press release, packing for a business trip and so on. The to do list will ensure that you never miss a step and will allow you to delegate more readitly.

2. Master the cutoff: Choose one phrase that team members and employees will recognize as your signal that they are talking excessively about a point. Examples: “What’s Next,” “Enough Said,” or “Move on.”

3. Keep separate emails accounts: Have one e-mail address that you publicize and another that you give out only to closse contacts. This will allow you to know which messages regquire your attention first and which your assistant can filter.

Further Reading
“3 Time Saving Tips,” was adapted from the Organized Executive‘s “Quick Tips & Time-Savers” (January 2010 issue). For more time saving tips pick up or download a copy of the Organized Executive and be sure to visit inordertosucceed.com for more time management, lifestyle management, and organizational ideas.
Photo courtesy of Zoutedrop’s photostream.