7 Tips for Working from Home
Working from home is great. Right up until your dog jumps up for a hug and knocks your coffee all over the keyboard. Or a construction crew starts jackhammering in the street outside your window. Productivity in these circumstances can be challenging. As someone who has worked from home for several years, I have picked up a few tips that can help you make the most of your time.
1. Create a dedicated workspace.
Whether you plan to work at one end of your dining table or in a separate study (helpful for keeping enthusiastic pets at bay), it’s important to create a space that has everything you need and screams “WORK TIME”. Proper seating, a good internet connection, an updated computer, your favourite coffee mug and even a curated playlist all help to get you into the right headspace when you sit down to work. And then help you leave your work where it belongs when you stop for the day.
2. Plan your day.
I can’t stress enough how vital it is to plan out your working day and week. If you’re unsure what your week looks like, take some time beforehand to list the tasks you need to complete and schedule calendar reminders for certain tasks to begin at certain times to keep you on track. If you have booked video conferences, grab your charger, test your computer’s camera and microphone and plan your outfit. If you know your lunch breaks will be short, make your meals the night before. If you have kids running underfoot, plan to share the workload with a partner. If that’s not possible, break up your work into achievable chunks with an estimated timeframe for completion. That way, when screen time or nap time rolls around, you can go into super-productive mode and complete whole tasks that have a similar timeframe.
3. Set up a routine.
You may not be heading into the office, but that doesn’t mean you’re on holiday. Create expectations with those you live with about when and how you will be working, to minimise interruptions. Set your alarm and go through your usual morning routine of getting ready for work: exercise / shower / breakfast / shave / makeup / get dressed / get the kids ready etc. Then begin work at your normal start time. Again, this helps you get into the right headspace so that you can hit the ground running and maintain your motivation throughout the day.
4. Ignore distractions.
Unless you’re dealing with a cockroach invasion, those dishes in the sink can be left until evening. Ditto the laundry. Marie Kondo-ing your life can be saved for the weekend. Personal calls and social media browsing should be done during dedicated break times, just like at the office. And get your partner or roommate to hide the TV remote, because binge-watching is a thing. If you’re getting distracted by outside noise, take a break, move to another area, or try and be flexible with your schedule – instead of forcing yourself to concentrate on a difficult task, switch to calls and emails until the noise stops. Remember, distractions take time away from work and time is money.
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 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 couple of minutes. 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 grab a coffee from the local café. 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 workday 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 in the end. Good luck!