How To Be More Productive When You Work From Home.

I live in Connecticut and this season has to be the hottest on record. I have two sons — one home from college and another home from high school. They both worked over the summer at different jobs, but they are now enjoying the remnants of the summer at home. Even though they are older — they still want attention (or at least I think they do). They can watch TV, read a book, play Steam on their PC's, swim, or stand outside and roast in our yard. I am also working from home today.

Maybe you do too. You have to deliver a number of items today. You have to be on emergency conference calls. You have to manage your team remotely. You might even have to handle weather-related emergencies.

But it’s tough when you’re in a non-work environment. Everything is beckoning to you — the TV, the couch, the kitchen, the kids, surfing the web, your spouse/partner . . . EVERYTHING.

So here are some tips to help you focus, accelerate, and get more done at home than you do at work:

1. Sequester yourself. If you don’t have a home office, find a room with a door and close it. Set a rule — if the door is closed, you are “not in the house”. If the door is open, feel free to come in and say hello.

2. Develop an ‘express’ plan. Get a piece of paper and list all the things you need to do on it in 60 seconds. Then prioritize your list in 60 seconds. Don’t worry, you can add additional things later, but for now, speed is of the essence. Now you have a plan for the day.

3. Work 50 minute hours. Start at the top of the hour and focus on one (or more) items on your list. At the 50 minute mark, stand up, open the door to your office, and go say hello to the family. Or grab a glass of cool ice tea. Or surf the web. Just separate yourself from your work for 5-10 minutes so you can recharge.

4. Reach out to your team strategically. You should call your team at three stages of the day — in the morning, at 1 PM and at 5 PM. Since you’re not in close proximity, you still need to give them the sense you are working together and you’re watching. It’s not a vacation day.

5. Use technology. If you have Skype and a webcam, use it! Leverage email, IM, Outlook, GoToMeeting, etc. to better communicate with your team, your boss, and your clients. Ask your family to stay off the phone (if you only have one line) — and mix communicating with your cell phone — but remember to charge it when not in use. Some places are choosing to use app integrations to make communications between other coworkers and clients much easier and efficient. Things like Slack integration from Salesforce are rising in popularity.

6. Have a virtual lunch meeting. Get your client, your vendor or your staff together and all get on a conference call to get a status, charm the client or direct a vendor. But adding the fun of a virtual lunch makes it much more informal and fun.

If you stick to these tips, you’ll find you will be much more productive, stay in touch with your team, and still have time for yourself to practice watching your electric bill rise due to your AC use.

What do you do when you work at home to be more productive?