Working from home definitely has its perks, but getting motivated outside of a traditional office setting and avoiding distractions can be challenging.
Smartphones can be a big distraction. A recent home office productivity survey by Kensington found that 42 percent of respondents check their phones at least 25 times during their workday.
Avoiding doing that kind of thing and setting some clear boundaries between home and work can help you boost productivity.
- Adjust your mindset. A big part of success for a home-based entrepreneur or worker is mindset. “There’s a lot of miscellaneous distractions that go on in the home,” said Linda Varone, a Boston-based consultant and author of “The Smarter Home Office” (Great Meadow Publishing; $9.97).
“Have a mindset that the hours you work at home are as important as the hours you’d be working in an office,” she said.
- Create your space. To help get in that mindset, it pays to have a dedicated space for working, even it’s just your guest room, she noted.
About a decade ago, Debra Cohen, president of Debra Cohen PR, converted her Hewlett home’s front porch into a home office.
Cohen, also president of Home Remedies of NY Inc., a referral service that connects homeowners with contractors, said it made a world of difference from the previous workspace she had in her basement.
“I needed to see light,” she said. “When you work from home, you’re cocooned during the day.” Half her office is now windows.
She built a wraparound desk and put her computer monitor and other technology in cabinets to maximize space.
And she eliminated a lot of paper clutter by using such software as QuickBooks for invoicing, as well as custom-designing a web-based contact management software that keeps track of contractor, homeowner and job order information.
- Save space. Beyond that, there are space-saving technologies and products such as wireless track balls and mountable docking stations that make the most of limited space, says Louie Yao, senior global product manager at San Mateo, California-based Kensington, a provider of desktop and mobile device accessories for security, ergonomics and productivity.
Almost three-quarters of home office users in the Kensington survey reported having limited space on their physical desktop.
With a wireless track ball, for instance, you don’t have to move a mouse around your desk; you just move your finger and roll the track ball, Yao said. And a docking station — a hardware device that allows portable computers to connect with other devices via multiple USB ports and video outputs — can recreate the full desktop computer experience with only your laptop.
- Keyboard trick. Another helpful tool is a keyboard that can be used on your computer and smartphone, so if a text comes in, you don’t have to leave what you’re doing on the PC to grab your phone. Instead, press a couple of buttons on the keyboard to seamlessly transition from typing on the computer to typing on your phone, explains Yao. Kensington and others sell “switchable” keyboards.
And you don’t need to obsessively check your phone.
- Budget email, voicemail. Set times when you check and respond to voicemails and emails, suggested Alice Price, owner and president of Organize Long Island Inc., a West Islip-based professional organizer and coach.
“For most people, checking their email and voicemail two to three times a day is more than enough,” she said.
Set limits on social media — perhaps 10 minutes at a time, says Price. Also set a timer for, say, 20 minutes, and when it goes off, ask yourself, ‘Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing, or have I gone down a rabbit hole someplace?’ ” she suggested.
- Clean up your act, close the door. Don’t get bogged down in clutter. “Clear your desk at the end of the day, every day,” Price advised.
And establish boundaries with your family.
Varone’s advice: “Close the door when you’re working.”
Fuzzy slippers optional
More than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of an owner’s home.