7 Tips for Working from Home
Updated: Feb 12
Working from home is great. Right up until your cat knocks your cup of tea all over the keyboard. Or a construction crew starts jackhammering outside your window. As someone who has worked from home for several years, I have picked up a few tips on how to improve your work week outside of the office.
1. Create a dedicated workspace.
Whether you plan to work at your dining table or in a study nook or even in your bedroom with the door closed (helpful for keeping enthusiastic pets at bay), you need a dedicated work space. Preferably one with proper seating, good internet, an updated computer, your favourite coffee mug, a curated playlist, or whatever else you need to get into the right headspace. Even wearing work or casual clothes can help you get into work mode (it's hard to feel super productive in your pajamas). You could also check out your local café as a potential work space – a temporary change of scenery can help you to work better.
2. Plan your day.
It is essential that you plan out your work day in advance! Take the time the day before to list the tasks you need to complete and allocate them an amount of time in a daily planner. Then schedule calendar reminders or alerts to keep you on track. If you have virtual meetings, check everything is plugged in and your computer’s camera and microphone are working. If you don't have time for a proper lunch break, make your lunch the night before or in the morning and stock up on snacks. If you have small kids running underfoot, plan to share the workload with a partner. If that’s not possible, break your work into achievable chunks and plan everything around screen time or nap time.
3. Set up a routine.
You may not be heading into the office, but that doesn’t mean you’re on holiday. To minimise interruptions, create expectations with those you live with about when and how you will be working. Set your alarm and go through your usual morning routine of getting ready for work (exercise, shower, breakfast, get dressed, help the kids, etc.) Then begin work at your normal start time in your dedicated home office space. Having a routine helps you to hit the ground running and maintain your motivation throughout the day.
4. Ignore distractions.
Your dedicated work space should always be tidy, as this helps you to stay organised and productive. But everything else can be postponed until after you clock off. Leave the dishes in the sink, forget the laundry, and don't put away the toys. Housework is the easiest way to keep you from being productive so ignore all household chores until your paid work is done. Same goes for your phone (leave it on the other side of the room if possible and check your social feeds only during breaks or outside of business hours) and the TV (get someone in your house to hide the remote if binge-watching is your weakness). External noise like construction is also frustrating and distracting. Try taking a break, moving to another area, or switching to an easier work task until the noise stops.
5. Connect with your team.
You’re at home, not under a rock. There are so many online tools these days that can help you with pretty much anything, from meeting with clients to collaborating with multiple teams, and even sharing screens and completing projects together. Take advantage, stay connected, and maintain that all-important team morale.
6. Break it up.
You’ve probably heard that people who work in front of a computer all day are supposed to take a break every 30 minutes or so for health reasons. That’s probably unrealistic. But you should at least take a small break every hour, even if it’s only for a minute. Stand and stretch, grab a snack, and walk around the house while you eat. If you need some fresh air, take your dog for a walk around the block or go buy a coffee. Not only are you doing your body a favour, you will come back to your work feeling refreshed and will be more productive in the long run.
7. Disconnect at night.
If you don’t normally take your work home with you when you leave the office, why should that change? Switch off at the end of the work day and ignore your emails and phone calls without feeling guilty. Take time to eat a nice meal, chat to your family, watch TV, read a book, whatever helps you unwind at night. Practice self-care to keep your mind and body healthy and your sanity intact.
Working from home might not be easy, but if you follow these suggestions you will be amazed at how much you can achieve. Good luck!