5 Work from Home Habits That are Killing Your Productivity

Working From Home

This is a guest post by Sarah Gabot. Sarah is a Marketing Manager at Sqwiggle, a company dedicated to bringing together distributed teams and empowering remote workers by improving team collaboration and communication.

When you’re working from home, you get certain privileges that traditional office workers don’t get. For instance, you get to work in your pajamas and avoid a dreadful commute. However, people working from home have to face one of the biggest challenges of all: finding the discipline to stay on-task.

At home, nobody is watching you and your schedule is yours. This also means that you need to make sure you’re not wasting time on distractions. If you want to maximize productivity, you need to squash the distraction bug and regain your focus.

Don’t let these 5 Work from Home Habits Kill Your Productivity:

1. Checking Social Media (Specifically, Facebook)
Constantly checking social media is a huge time suck. You can spend endless hours clicking through photos or reading what people are sharing on social media.

To beat the temptation of looking at social media constantly but still get your fix, allot time to look at social media. Consider giving yourself 10-15 minutes every few hours as a break from work. When it’s not your break, close all social media sites and make them off-limits!

2. Starting Your Day Without a Plan
Beginning your day without a plan is like starting a trip without a map. When you do this, you just make up tasks as you go about your day. This can make it harder to keep sight of your goals and to-dos because you’re just taking tasks as they come.

Strategizing about your day and creating a plan can help you prioritize your tasks and goals. Then you can focus on what you really need to accomplish. Before you head to your computer in the morning, create a short list of goals for the day. Use this list to help focus, and make sure you complete your goals.

3. Working With the TV On
TVs can be a huge distraction for people working at home, especially because there’s no manager watching them! Focusing on the TV for even two minutes at a time is two minutes of lost productivity. Not to mention, it takes a long time to refocus your attention (25 minutes to refocus to the original task!).

The best solution to this is to leave the TV off. If you insist on working with the TV noise in the background, have your back face the TV so that it’s harder for you to see the screen.

4. Surfing the Web
Regardless of whether you work from home or in a traditional office, nearly all employees get sidetracked and start surfing the web. And sometimes you can’t help it. According to the survey by Salary.com, 69 percent of men and 62 percent of women admitted to using the internet for personal reasons on a daily basis at work. The time spent surfing the internet could result in hours of wasted time.

Similar to social media, don’t make surfing the web off-limits throughout the work day. That’s just not reasonable. Set aside time for surfing the web during your breaks.

5. Lacking Exercise
If you’re on your butt all day and don’t get up for some exercise, this could be wasting your time as well. This is easy to do when you’re at home all day, since you don’t even have to go outside of the house. In fact, according to the results of a recent Swedish study, exercise increases work productivity. That means that sitting at your computer all day might not be the best way to be most productive.

Instead of sitting at your computer for long hours, make sure you squeeze in a few minutes of exercise. Start small if you have to! Your work productivity depends on it.

Stay on Track at Home

Without the daily distractions of co-workers, meetings, and even going out to lunch, working from home can provide an increase in your productivity…if you’re willing to break the bad habits that are wasting your time. Be disciplined, and be more productive working from home.

Question: What work at home habits are killing your productivity, and how can you stop them today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Invest just 10 minutes a day toward the right ideas, behaviors and strategies to finally be more productive at work…so you can spend less time there! 31 Days, 31 Ways: Daily Tips for Time Management Mastery is my time management course, containing 31 powerful daily lessons and 31 actionable exercises designed to help you take action, reduce stress, and reclaim your time. Click here to learn more.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Brenda Spandrio

    These five are definitely habits to avoid to be productive! I’m most guilty of starting my day without a plan. I need to change that.
    And even though you mention working in PJs as a perk to having your business at home, I find that getting dressed for the day (not in a business suit, mind you!) is crucial for me to get my head into “work” mode.
    And as an organizing consultant I have learned that most people (including me) are less productive when their office or work surface is overly cluttered. It adds stress and distractions that derail their best efforts.

    • sarahgabot

      Getting dressed for the day is definitely a great tactic!

      I also had trouble with starting a day without a plan. One way that helped me shape my day was reflecting on what I got done at the end of every work day. I would sit there and think, “What did I accomplish today?” If I decided “nothing really”, it only meant that I needed to stay more focused and buckle down on my goals.

      It’s a great way to make you feel accountable for finishing tasks and reaching your goals.

  • HomemakersDaily

    I don’t exactly “work at home” but I do spend several hours a day on my blog. Even that amount of time is hard because I’m used to being up and around. So I usually work about 50 minutes and then get up and do something physical. Then repeat that a couple more times. I can’t sit for three hours straight without taking breaks. I’ve tried breaking my blog time into two blocks – an hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. That actually works better but my schedule doesn’t always allow it.

    • sarahgabot

      Sounds like you have a great system going on! Breaks are super important throughout the work day. It can be harder to take breaks at home, so you have to schedule the in.

      I take breaks throughout the day. If I try to force myself to sit there for hours on end, I find myself staring at the computer getting very little done. For longer breaks, I go out for a walk or I’ll start cooking–anything that’s not at my desk! I actually get inspired with work-related things during this time, which actually causes me to be more productive in the end.

  • Aisha

    Sometimes just getting dressed makes me feel more productive than just working in my pajamas all day!

    • sarahgabot

      Yeah, I definitely think changing clothes really helps you change “modes” (cozy mode to work mode) and can encourage you to be more productive. In fact, one of my coworkers HAS TO put on shoes to get in the mood for work. 🙂 Whatever works!

  • At least I don’t leave the TV on. Is 1 for 5 bad?

    • sarahgabot

      Of course not. Many of us are guilty of most of the above. That’s why we have to work to improve our productivity! 🙂

  • Guess I’ll turn the TV off…

    I don’t fall into this one often, but I’ve caught myself a couple times recently. Didn’t get very much done. 🙁

    • sarahgabot

      I’ve turned on the TV a few times, also. I was really surprised at how difficult it was to split my attention between the TV & my work. I could only focus on one or the other. It really proved to me that I couldn’t “multitask” with the TV on.

  • Thanks so much for sharing this. With my company we try to raise these same key points to our work from home agents. A lot of them get upset when they notice there numbers are failing and they don’t understand why. This article stresses a lot of the things that decreases productivity when working from home. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Pingback: Take 5: A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web | Money Talks News()

  • Good post. Although I must admit that motivation and focus isn’t a problem for me any more. If I don’t work I don’t have a job! Although I do work from home most days now.

  • Very useful, regards!

  • Pingback: SimpleProductivityBlog.com—Open Loops 3/21/2014: Articles I Think Worth Passing Along - SimpleProductivityBlog.com—()