Many companies are now implementing mandatory work from home policies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Lots of people are finding themselves dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home full time for the first time.
I’ve run my own business, from my home, for over ten years and, believe me, there is an adjustment to going from working in an office to working from home.
It took me a while, but I finally figured out how to make it work.
So, I wanted to share some of my helpful hints for working from home effectively and stay productive.
1. Keep your morning routine
Yes, you read that correctly. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you get to sleep in. Set your alarm, make your bed, and make sure you shower and get dressed. I’m not saying you have to put on a suit, but definitely don’t work in your pajamas. There is something to be said for getting into different clothes to start the day. Believe me, you’ll feel better and be more productive.
2. Set a workspace
Designate an area in your home for getting work done. Ideally, it’s best if you have a dedicated room for your office like a den or a spare bedroom so you can leave it and close the door at the end of the day. Of course, this isn’t always possible and then you should designate a specific table and chair that is your workspace. Learn to identify this work space with your work hours – this is where you go to get your work done. Don’t work on the couch and definitely don’t work from bed!
3. Establish work hours
Try to keep set work hours. This is important to keep a routine and also to prevent work creep. At the end of the day, turn off your computer and shut your office door. It’s very easy for the work to creep into your personal time because your office is right there. It’s important for your well-being that you don’t let it. Just because your office is at home, doesn’t mean you’re available 24/7.
4. Keep an updated to do list
Every evening before I turn off my computer, I do a brain dump. I write down everything that I need to do. I do this so that my mind doesn’t continue to think about work and what I need to do after I’m done working for the day. I also do this so I don’t forget about something. And, if while I’m watching tv at night and something pops into my head that I need to do, I can simply add it to the list and move on from it until the next day.
5. Structure your day
Have a plan for each day. When we work in an office, our days are generally structured by the other people we work with. But, when you work on your own at home, that structure must come from you. Set your intention for each day. Establish your top three priorities for that day so you’ll actually be able to accomplish what you set out to do. Block time in your calendar for your different tasks. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Celebrate your achievements.
6. Get up regularly and take breaks
When you’re working from home, it can be easy to lose track of time and not stand up for hours on end. This is really bad! Make sure you get up regularly to stand up and stretch. Also, make sure you schedule breaks into your day. Take a lunch break. Play with your dog or your kids. You can’t be at your desk working all day – it’s not healthy. One idea is for every hour, work for the first 50 minutes and then take a short break for 5 to 10 minutes before heading back to work.
7. Take control of your distractions
Let’s face it, there are a ton of distractions when you’re working from home. The TV, your family, your pet, the kitchen and social media. Do not succumb to these distractions. You cannot work effectively if the TV is on in the background or if you get up every five minutes to get a snack from the kitchen. That’s why it’s important to structure your day and to take breaks. Set time in your day for social media. Take a 15 minute break and watch a bit of TV. Have lunch with your family. There are ways to work these distractions into your day in a productive way.
8. Keep your work space organized
You can’t be productive in a space that’s disorganized. Take some time and figure out what kind of organization works for you and then get it done. For me, I’m am organization freak so my work space must be clean and everything in its place. I have my big file cabinet to my left and my planner to my right. In front of me are my current client files and behind me are drawers organized with office supplies.
9. Make your workspace a welcoming environment
There’s a lot to be said for having a workspace that is welcoming, whatever that may mean to you. For me it means a comfortable and adjustable chair, good lighting, pretty plants and flowers, pictures and photos of things that are special to me and a bed for my Chief Dog Officer, Lulu, to hang out in and keep me company. When we make our work space a welcoming environment, it becomes a place where we’re happy to be, and therefore more productive.
If you’d like to read about the tools I use to run my business click here to read that blog post.
I hope you find these helpful hints for working from home helpful. If you think someone else could benefit from it, please use the icons below to share it.