Improving productivity by changing your environment
While working at home can be very rewarding, it can also be lonely and isolating. If you work at home full-time, you may not see other co-workers or clients often. How do you stay engaged with your co-workers and clients when sometimes out of sight can be out of mind? How do you keep your sanity when you spend 8-10 hours a day alone? What are some things you can do to keep your work, your mental state, and environment fresh?
Here are some guidelines that I like to follow:
- Get out of your office once in a while. This can mean making a site visit to a client or vendor, or (gasp) going to the office. I try to make a visit to my company’s headquarters annually, or alternatively attend a large company function. This is good for me and my career as it gives me the opportunity to meet people I am working with and develop some relationships I might not otherwise cultivate.
- Use video conferencing or video chat (like Skype or FaceTime) to personalize your communications. In most jobs, good relationships can improve your performance and effectiveness. It is amazing what seeing a co-worker can do for the relationship.
- Relocate your office for a day or part of a day to a coffee shop or your local public library. Especially if you don’t have to be on the phone a lot, a change of scenery can often reduce the effects of isolation many home workers can feel. This is different from visiting customers or a company office, but actually doing the same things you do everyday somewhere else.
- Re-organize or re-decorate your office space periodically. Over time, clutter and paperwork accumulates in your space. I try to de-clutter, reorganize and rearrange my space every year. It is amazing how much productivity I gain when I get myself unburied from paper, surplus equipment, and other “stuff” that seems to pile up in my home office.
- Get involved in your community. There is always some organization that needs volunteers, and with your easy commute, your availability will be in high demand. Volunteering at my church provides me with plenty of personal interactions that I don’t get during the workday after work and at lunch. Plus, I am making a difference in my community, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
- Take breaks and go for a walk or run errands. When you work in an office, you likely have breaks and go to lunch with co-workers etc. You need to do this when you work at home too.
The truth is, I don’t get out much. When I’m feeling stale or unproductive, sometimes a change of scenery can solve the problem quickly.
What is missing from this list that you find effective in changing up your scenery and improving your productivity?