With all of the hubbub from Yahoo and the proclamation that their employees shall no longer work from home, it makes you wonder if all people who work from home are productive, or if they just sit around, watch TV, and forge through the fridge all day long. As a professor who works a day each week from home, and most days during the summer, I can say that it is possible to be productive from home, as long as you make it a priority.
1. Make sure you have a specific space to be productive
I've tried using the kitchen table, and it just doesn't work. I thought I should be near the family action, but everyone in the family gets mad that I'm taking up valuable space and I feel like I just can't keep track of my work. When I have my own work space, I keep better track of what I’m doing and no one intrudes on my work or my space.
2. Schedule time to work, then do everything else you need to get done
It is tempting to do the laundry, make dinner, and many other household chores while you are home, but my rule is that the work comes first while my family is gone. I save the other household chores for when they are home because those are things we can do together, but work is not something we can do together — they just get angry if I try to multi-task, but in reality, I'm not really focusing on them.
3. Set daily or weekly goals for yourself, especially when you are working alone
Aneil also worked at home extensively when he was a management consultant and wasn’'t at client sites, with no one to answer to, except himself (okay, me, too!). It is easy to react to email or phone calls each day, without actually accomplishing anything to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. In order to achieve your larger goals (including making a living), write them down and then cross them off when you have accomplished them. For instance, tell yourself that you will make ten new connections this week or you will follow-up with five prospects or you will write one new article each week (like we do for PolicyMic!). When you have set those goals in front of you, you will feel a sense of achievement when you reach them (or at many of them).
We do our best writing from home where it is quiet and there are no interruptions from those students that we love. We professors are required to write articles, but need a quiet space to get them done. We’'ve found that taking a day a week to work at home helps us be our most productive.