Like most of us, you’re probably spending more time than ever working from home. A home office can be both a blessing and a curse: no long commutes, but also a lack of privacy and focus that an out-of-the-home office provides. What are some ways to increase productivity when working from home?
The Rise of Working from Home
Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans continue to work from home. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; studies find that employees who work from home are generally happier, more fulfilled with their work. Surprisingly, the same research also shows that employees are more productive overall when working from a home office.
While working from home started as a necessity during the Coronavirus pandemic, many American workers say they intend to continue working from home as long as possible, even after the pandemic fades.
For real estate agents, this is an easy switch since much of our business can be done from anywhere with internet access. However, even with all the positive elements of working from home, it can be challenging to balance family time with our work, especially when we never truly leave the office. How can we increase productivity when working from home, while still maintaining a successful real estate business?
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
While not everyone has enough room in their homes to set up a dedicated office, it’s essential to carve out space to work.
If you have an extra room, transform it into your at-home office, complete with desk, chair, reading materials, and even a separate phone line if necessary. It’s best to have your office somewhere free from distractions, where you can focus intently on your professional tasks. Choose a location that makes it easy to transition back to family time when necessary.
Ideally, your office will not be in your bedroom. Working where you sleep can negatively impact both your sleep habits and your mental health overall.
2. Set Your Office Hours – and Stick to Them!
We all know that real estate is a very fluid career. Much of our work revolves around our clients’ schedules. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create office hours for yourself, and then intentionally stick to that timeframe.
For instance, consider doing “office work” at the same time every day, regardless of whether you’re in the middle of a contract or not. Try to keep your schedule the same every day – or as close to the same as possible.
Finally, give yourself downtime. Even though our entertainment options are limited at the moment, it’s still vital to have time in your schedule to relax, be with friends and family, and recharge from a stressful week.
3. Dress for Work
Part of the best part about working from home is being able to go to our home office in our pajamas. And while that’s certainly more comfortable than putting on shirt and tie, the psychology suggests you should at least change from those raggedy sweatpants.
Even if you’re not interfacing with clients or colleagues, get dressed before heading down the hall to your home office. Getting dressed signals our brains that it’s time to be productive, and we will therefore maintain better focus throughout the day.
Similarly, it’s perfectly acceptable to change back into your comfy clothes at the end of your workday. Just as getting dressed for work signals your brain to switch into work mode, changing out of those clothes will also indicate that it’s time to slow down and relax.
4. Avoid Multitasking
We live in a world where multitasking is revered. But the science shows us that humans aren’t built to multitask. In fact, our brains take time to change from one task to another, so if we try to do too much at once, we unintentionally take longer to complete each task.
Therefore, stick to one job at a time. Turn off phone notifications, resist the temptation to check your email, and focus intently on that task. Chances are, you’ll complete it in record time, allowing you to move on to the next item on your list. In the end, you will spend less time working when you focus on one task at a time.
5. Tackle Important Tasks First
Deciding which task to tackle first can feel overwhelming. Start by writing down everything you need to complete this week. Then, rank those duties from most important to least important. Finally, choose one or two of those most important tasks to tackle each day.
If there is time left in your day, add in one or two of the less essential assignments.
The point here is to avoid overwhelming your to-do list and burning yourself out. Choose three tasks to focus on today. Get those done, and if you have time at the end of your day, check off a few others. If the not-so-important tasks don’t get done this week, there is always next week.
Working from home might be the new normal. We are here to help you maximize your home office. To learn more about building a thriving real estate business in less time, visit our products page.