When studies have shown that remote workers are less stressed, healthier, and more productive, working from home sounds particularly enticing during the holiday season. While this kind of work may seem like a dream, it’s not without its challenges.
The holidays are full of distractions, and it’s hard to escape them even from the comforts of your own home. Whether you’re a permanent telecommuter or an employee escaping the office for the holiday season, follow these seven tips to help yourself stay more productive and distraction-free.
1. Request Supplies Early
If you’re transitioning to a home office for the holidays or you’re taking on a new project, ask for any technology items and supplies you’ll need early. You can’t be productive if you don’t have all the tools you need. Make sure your internet speed is fast enough to conduct virtual meetings, set up your office phone, and double-check you have the software programs required to complete your projects. The closer it gets to the holidays, the more difficult it will be for an IT department to get you what you need.
2. Hire a Babysitter
It may sound enticing and cost-effective at first, but don’t work from home to save costs on a babysitter. When the kids are home for winter break and feeling cooped up in the house, it will be nearly impossible for you to focus on your work. Hire a babysitter to watch your kids, close the door to your home office, and put on a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Your kids can be as loud as they want without distracting you.
3. Add a “Stoplight” to Your Office Door
Constant knocks at the door and interruptions from family members can be a big productivity killer. One simple solution comes in the form of three pieces of red, green, and yellow paper. When you need to work distraction-free, tape the red paper on the door. Yellow means to knock first, while green means anyone is welcome to come in. It’s an easy method to ensure your family—especially young kids—know when it’s okay to visit and when you need to focus on your work.
4. Take Advantage of Technology
According to a CareerBuilder study, 75% of employees lose at least two hours of productivity a day due to distractions. Luckily, there are countless free or inexpensive productivity and communications tools available that can help you stay on task. Trello and Asana are two of the most popular productivity tools that allow you to create projects, assign tasks, and track progress in a clean, list-style format. You can also create categories and receive due date reminders to stay more organized and on track. You’ll never have to wonder what to work on next or when an assignment is due.
5. Stick to a Regular Schedule
The holiday season is stressful enough without having to work at odd hours of the night and on weekends. Maintain regular work hours just as you would at an office. Let clients, employers, and co-workers know your schedule ahead of time. Then, stick to it. When you don’t adhere to a set schedule, it’s easy to overwork yourself, which can drain your productivity and creativity. If possible, work during daytime only on weekdays, and take off evenings and weekends to relax, recharge, and spend time with loved ones.
6. Take Breaks
What do top entrepreneurs say is the secret to increased productivity? Taking time off. Your brain needs short breaks throughout the day to recharge. Forcing yourself to work for eight hours straight will only drain you and most likely frustrate you. There are endless recommendations on the best work-to-break ratio, but the consensus is to take a break every hour, even if it’s for five minutes. Stand up, stretch, take a breath of fresh air outside, and return to work. This also applies to challenging projects. If you’re stuck, move on to another task and come back to the difficult one later.
7. Create a Relaxing Environment
One of the best things about working from home is that you can choose your own work environment. Take full advantage of this and create a workspace you enjoy and that helps you feel relaxed and productive. For some, this ideal space may mean blank walls with minimal distractions, while others may prefer motivational posters and lit candles. Also make sure you’re not working from bed or on the couch. Invest in a proper chair and desk and dedicate a room or a corner of a room to your office to maintain a work-oriented mindset.
The holidays may be stressful, but establishing a relaxing environment and following a few productivity tips can help you work from home this season with fewer distractions. The result? A happier you and more time to enjoy with your loved ones.