Working from home can throw up a lot of distractions, especially for those experiencing it for the first time. However, if you can get your routine right, working from home is proven to be more productive than working in the office. A recent piece of research from CNBC even showed that those who work from home earn more money. Which makes sense, because if you get more done, your results are going to be better and therefore you earn more money! But when you first start working from home it’s easy to fall into some bad habits. So how should you structure your day?

Stick to your regular working hours

Seems straightforward right? But an easy trap to fall in to, is to have an extra hour in bed, or a little longer for lunch etc. It is easier to transition to working from home, by keeping a similar work schedule. Setting yourself consistent hours, will keep you accountable. But it’s also key to ensuring you don’t miss anything. If your boss or colleague is in the office, when are they most likely to reach out to you? During core hours of course.

As you become more familiar with your working pattern from home, you may deviate slightly from a traditional 9-5. But there are universal truths to working in any location. You are going to spend your morning catching up on emails. You are going to get queries from your colleague or your boss mid-morning and after lunch. Most conference calls are also going to be scheduled 930-1130 or 200-430.

Dress like you are at work

There are important triggers that help facilitate behaviour. Your morning routine is one of them. If you get out of bed at 8.55 and sit down on the sofa in your pyjamas – how productive and motivated do you think you are going to feel? Wake up at your normal time, brush your teeth, have that shower and put on your work clothes. It will put you in the frame of mind that it is time to work.

Create a separate working space

Its also important to have a specific space at home to work. If you normally watch TV when you are sat at home on the Sofa, guess what you are going to end up doing when you try to work on the sofa? That’s right. You are going to end up watching TV. We are creatures of habit, and we associate certain actions with certain behaviours. We are not all lucky enough to have a huge house with a home office. But find yourself a place where you can focus on work.

When I first started working from home in 2012/2013 prior to having a home office, it was my dining room table. I would sit on the opposite side of the table to where I have dinner, in a completely different chair, facing a different direction. This became my home office. My mind knew that when I was in this location, I was there to work. I had never sat in that chair to do anything else. It also conveniently faced away from my TV and any other potential distractions.

Tidy Up!

If you have a messy work environment, you are going to end up procrastinating. If you have breakfast bowls and coffee mugs all over the place, you are not going to focus as well. Having a clear workspace at home is vital to helping you focus on work and not chores. Likewise, by tidying up your workspace before you begin, you are going to feel like you have already achieved a goal for the morning. Setting you up for success throughout the day.

Remember to take breaks

One of the key reasons working from home is so productive, is because you can power through your to do list without anyone walking over to your desk and distracting you. The downside to this, is that those who work from home, end up working significantly more hours than those who don’t. Its important to not burn yourself out. Make sure you schedule breaks in your day. If you have a coffee shop near your house, try to take a 10-minute mid-morning break and go and get a coffee. Try and head out for a walk to get your lunch. Or set aside some other time to step away from the computer for a short break during the day.

Not only will this help with breaking up the working day. It will also help deal with the isolation that some people can experience working from home. There are horror stories of individuals who have not left their house for several days. This is not good for a person’s mental health. Even a short break, to walk outside and see other human beings can be very helpful.

Finally, remember to set some clear boundaries. Many people fall into the trap of being in front of their computer for 12+ hours a day when they work from home. Set a clear time when you are finished and communicate that with your team. We all must work late sometimes, an urgent project comes up, or some deadline is close by. But that should be the exception and not the norm.

*If you are looking to succeed in your career then you should check out my book – The Employee Handbook: A Practical Guide for Managing Your Career – which was ranked as the #1 Best Selling Career Book on Amazon Singapore. You can pick up a copy by clicking here. Alternatively, you can search for the book on any Amazon site including UK, US, Singapore, India, UAE, Japan, Canada, Australia and various others to order a copy. If you are in another location, Amazon will be able to ship globally to you. It is also available as an e-book via Amazon Kindle.