For those that work the regular 9 to 5 working from home seems like the ultimate dream. No travel, no boss looking over your shoulder and all in comfort of you own house. There are many positives to working from home but it is not without issues. To make it work you need to be disciplined, to take it seriously and be able to handle the social isolation. Here are a few tips from years of working form home that will help you on the road to success.
Specific place for work
Its important to have a specific place in your house that you work at each day. This can be a dedicated office, bedroom or desk somewhere. When you sit at this desk you are at work. This helps a lot with separating work from life. Without it it can seem like you never leave work. As tempting as it is to kick back on the couch with your laptop its not recommended. Couch for relaxing, desk for work.
You Need a Work Schedule
You need to have regular work hours. You have the flexibility to make these whatever you like but you need to stick to the plan.
Some possibilities include:
- Start early and finish early
- Start late and finish late
- Start early with a big midday break and finish late
You will only be limited by your imagination. When you have other commitments such as children this can be golden.
Don’t do Chores on Breaks
It can be tempted to tidy up a bit or do chores during your breaks. This is a bad idea! As when working from the office you need breaks to recharge. Instead go for a walk or call a buddy for a chat. Don’t mix work with personal life. You can schedule chores outside of work hours.
Keeping a work diary can be a huge help as you fine tune your work life balance and ensure your productivity levels. I use a checklist/diary to record my most important daily tasks, what I completed and the hours spent on each task and client. At the end of the day a quick glance at this tells me how productive my day was.
Not all days are going to be super productive, the main thing is that it averages out ok and your are getting the main things completed each day.
Dress for Work
It can be tempting to stay in your pyjamas and get straight into work. I recommend eating breakfast and showering as you would if you were going into the office. I don’t dress up in a suite but I do make sure I’m wearing neat casual clothes. This also helps you get your head into working mode and is great for unexpected video calls. At the end of the work day change into something more comfortable.
If you have a busy household there can be many distractions. Partners, children, other family members and pets to name a few. I like to consider all of these when creating my work schedule. This can mean getting a few hours done in the morning or evening when the kids are in bed. I have some noise cancelling headphones that both reduce the amount of noise during the day and clearly indicate that I am in working mode.
If you have a habit of getting off track and surfing the web or compulsively checking social media there are some apps that will block these during work hours, minimising the distraction. I also only check my emails at pre determined times, email can be a huge waste of time. Respond to emails and messages when it suits you.
Set Clear Boundaries With Family and Friends
For people that haven’t worked from home it can be hard to understand that you are actually at work and making money. You will need to set clear boundaries and expectations when you are working. No popping in to have a chat except for at pre defined times. Work time is for working not doing all the household chores.
Believe me this is one of the hardest parts of working from home. It will be tough at the beggining but if you keep reiterating your expectations it gets easier with time. There will be times of the week where you may be better scheduling a few hours at the local coffee shop rather than battling household distractions.
Your professional image will predominantly be displayed digitally when working from home. Its important to represent yourself well all the time. Be professional and punctual with emails, dress/groom well for video meetings and be sure to get your work completed on time and communicate clearly your progress or any issues.
When working from home you can be forgotten a bit at the office if your not careful. Stay in touch with your colleagues via email, phone or chat. Be sure to go to all company social opportunities or if working for yourself meet with your clients regularly. By regularly having contact you remind your colleagues and clients you are a real human being and they will treat you better.
Get out of the House
Its unhealthy to spend too much time in your house. Be sure to leave your house at least a few times a day. This can be for lunch or coffee or even a quick walk around the block. Its preferable to spend this time with other people. I try to meet a friend or have a chat to some of the locals.
Regular exercise is critical whether you are in the office or working from home. Exercise is great for the body and mind. It can also be an opportunity to socialise with a local running group or people at the gym. I like to start my day off with some cardio and time at the gym. Its also a psychological win on the day, you have completed something before you even start work.
Once your exercise becomes a habit it get easier. I recommend laying your workout clothes out the night before and getting into it as soon as you can after waking, while energy is high and before excuses have time to pop up. But again find out what works for you, experiment with exercising at different times of the day.
Proper Office Furniture
Your desk, chair and equipment need to be professional. You are going to be spending a lot of time with them so best to spend some money and be comfortable rather than sitting at the dinning table or on the couch. A good chair and desk don’t need to be expensive, there are plenty of ergonomic unbranded chairs or you could look for something second hand.
Working from home can be great as long as you take it seriously. The points mentioned in this article are a good start but you will need to experiment a bit and find what works for you. How can you keep you productivity up, maintain work life balance and be happy doing it?