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How to Work From Home More Efficiently

Maintaining efficiency while working at home requires good planning, organization, and the determination to finish tasks.
A woman writing in her planner.

Summer is in full swing, and your kids are happily in camp or day care. You’ve restored your daily workflow, but are you truly working at maximum efficiency? Here are some ways to stay cool, keep your career optimized and keep your workflow, well, flowing.

Plan your day. You need to have a game plan (and in this case, a day plan) if you plan to get work done. Without the structure that a plan provides, your day can get eaten up checking email, IM-ing a coworker—and let’s face it, lots of Twitter time. It doesn’t matter if you choose to create your plan at the end of the previous workday, or before you clock in for today. In either case, you’ll need a plan written out with your top goals for the day, and tentative deadlines for each task.

Group “like” items. You like to check email every time you hear that little “ding.” You’ll waste more time answering emails sporadically than if you set aside dedicated time to answer them all. Ditto for other job-related tasks like creating expense reports or transcribing documents. So batch your tasks according to type, and focus your time to complete each one in order to finish them faster.

Avoid distractions. Sure, your kid looks cute coming in from camp with her adorable Dora the Explorer bikini on. But chatting up your kids can interrupt your work groove—unless you already have it penciled in. If you know that your kids get off the bus at 4:00, then carve out ½ hour for that time each day to play catch up. That way, you’ll not only get time to connect with your kids, but you’ll also have a work schedule that you can stick to afterwards.

Finish what you start. You might be a multitasking maven, but starting ten projects before 10 AM can cause a chaotic workday. Instead, focus on starting—and completing—one project at a time. You’ll have a greater sense of satisfaction when you can cross items off of your to-do list and know that you’re getting a lot of work done.

Structure activities with energy levels. You may be a morning person, or you might have your energy peak at 3:00 PM. So try to coordinate more time consuming for the times when you are at your best, and you’ll be performing those tougher tasks with ease.

Take a break. It seems counterintuitive—and crazy—to take a break when you’re trying to pack as much into the day as possible. But that’s not what a productive workflow is about. Your workflow should represent quality, not quantity. So take a break by stretching your legs or taking the woofie for a walk. It will not only help give yourself a much-needed break, but it can also help your productivity soar when you return to your desk.

Working from home is wonderful, but it comes with its own set of challenges. No matter what the season, it’s easy to be productive…when you know how to work it!

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