As a programmer, large amounts of your productive time, you are working on your own. Doing research, testing potential solutions until you piece the product together to a point you are happy with your work. Then you start the process of debugging and optimizing.
For this reason, many software development companies now offer programmers the option to be coding from home. And let’s not forget the developers out there who opted for a freelance career due to the perks of schedule flexibility and getting to choose what projects they want to be working on.
This relatively new working trend begs the question:
Can you be Productive Working from the Comfort of Your Own Home?
According to research conducted by Harvard Business Review, letting employees work from home benefits the company much more than any potential adverse side effects. The study traces a nine-month-long experiment tracking productivity, and the results showed that the measured results jumped by 13.5%.
Besides, the company saved upwards of nearly two thousand dollars per employee for the nine-month duration. The concern that the results may be unreliable due to a temporary burst of excitement were ruled out. The reason behind it is the fact that the statistical data behind the research remained consistent throughout the entirety of the time-frame.
Finding ways to keep your productivity consistent in a home setting
Home is often the place of comfort you go to unwind after a long day at work. Staying consistently productive when you have changed your daily habits and your surroundings is a challenge. Especially until you find practices that are sustainable for you.
For example, you might think it’s a good idea to take advantage of coding from home. You choose to set up to work on the couch as you were, in your pajamas with a bowl of snacks on the coffee table.
Did you consider all the time you spent building the habit of watching something on TV while you are on the couch?
How easy would it be to let the thought of “Is there anything interesting on Netflix” creep into your mind? For many of us, it would be quite easy (at least in the first few attempts at working from home).
Before you know it, chances are you are two hours into a TV show, and you have not written a single line of code.
I am now a part of a company that allows coding from home (when done responsibly and within measure). From my experience here, in a java development company, I have developed specific methods that help me stay on top of work issues and situations — all without slipping into the habit of procrastinating at home.
Consistency is KING
Think about what you do before you get to the office on any given workday and do the same before you get to work at home. Maintaining as much of your usual consistent habits as you can make all the difference in your productivity levels.
Do you sleep in late or wake up relatively early? Do you stay in bed and snooze your alarms? You don’t snooze? Then get up.
Do you do a home workout, go to the gym or jog, or take a walk with your dog? Yes? Then do the same exercise routine at the same time of day as you usually do.
Do you eat junk food for lunch on the couch in your pyjamas, while scrolling through YouTube? No? Then grab a balanced meal and eat it on your desk or kitchen table as you usually would.
The human body and mind crave and understand consistency and predictability.
That means to do the same things in the same way repetitively and reliably. By doing this, your body and mindset can adjust and prepare to work before you even sit on your desk to code. This way, the adaptation between starting your day and getting started with the work process is much smoother and feels more natural, despite the change of surroundings.
Being consistent and predictable in our repetitive actions are essentially what makes up a habit. It is also the reason why it is so important to be mindful of what habits you build when you start coding from home. If you set off a collection of “bad” habits (in this context, such that cripple productivity or result generation), it will be that much harder to fight them later on.
The Illusion of “having enough time” when working from home.
Are you thinking that since you are working from home, you have more time to finish what you need to get done? After all, there will be no commute to work, or distractions, or having a long lunch with colleagues — Right?
Do you let the illusion of having a lot of time calm you at the beginning of your day? Only to realize it is four in the afternoon, and you are way behind on what you should have done by now?
Just because you code from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t manage your tasks in terms of time. When you are in the office, do you go through the motions until late in the afternoon? Or do you systematically go through your tasks list until it is complete in order to leave work on time?
Start your day off strong.
You should approach your workload when coding from home, the same way as you would in the office. Chances are, the sooner you complete your tasks, the less stressful your day will be. The more free time you will have to pursue any of your other interests or take care of non-work responsibilities.
Create a to-do list of all you need to get done, either at the end of the previous day or at the start of the same day. Plan out your tasks and assign them by name in your calendar. Give each assignment each their own much-much needed time frame. The best part of using Google calendar is that your commitments are easily editable and displayed excellently, which subconsciously prompts productivity.
Having a visual representation of what you need to do throughout the day helps keep your mind in check and focused on the work. Of course, you can always move up an assignment if you finished early. Or push it later in the day if something comes up or you simply feel like you need a break.
Delegate working sessions.
The human brain can only be functional for a few hours at a time. So consider dividing your home-office-workday into a few sessions dedicated to working. During each session, silence your electronic devices that are not work-related to avoid distractions.
Make sure to have eaten beforehand and bring a bottle of water to your desk. This helps to minimize the need for you to get up off your desk as much as possible.
Naturally, the working periods are something that you should choose based on your personal preferences and what you have noticed to be working for you in the past.
This is a principle that should serve as a guideline. All you have to do is put your undivided focus into your work for a few hours. You can work until it is time to take a break if you need it. Or keep working if you feel like you got in the groove of the workflow.
Good Practices Lead to Good Results
As with just about any structure that has ever been developed and implemented by people working from home has the potential to be a fantastic opportunity to revolutionize the working experience on a large scale. It also holds particular risks such as distractions, letting leisurely habits disrupt the workflow and more.