It’s no secret that working from home has its advantages. Freedom and flexibility to name a few! Who doesn’t want that? But it does come with its own set of challenges, and can go awry if you’re not careful. While you’re enjoying the no-pants-parade, you still have things to do. Here are 7 tried and true tips for working from home.
Have a distinguished work spot or “office”
Somewhere that is comfortable and allows you to stay focused. Working from your bed is nice and all… until you have a deadline coming up and all you can think about is that load of laundry in the corner that needs to be put away. If you don’t have a home office or desk make one on your dining room table or purchase a nice set of headphones to help you focus in your own mental space.
Plan your day/week with time blocking
Make a list of everything you do in a week and group similar tasks together. This will identify your main work functions. Then look at your weekly calendar. Assign each function to a day, half day, whatever amount of time makes sense for the task and keep it there from week to week. This tool sets boundaries and creates structures that ensure you’ll do those recurring tasks. For a more in-depth look at how I use time blocking read this post.
Example time blocked schedule:
Monday: CEO day with a focus on task-based work, admin and internal operations
Tuesday: client day
Wednesday: client day
Thursday: client day
Friday: CEO day with a focus on high level strategy and planning, creative work and content creation
Have a to-do list
Writing down everything you need to do that day or week can give you a clear visual on how you need to manage your time. Give yourself a pat on the back for checking everything off on your list for the day. Finish early? Working ahead can potentially free up time later in the week. A to-do list frees up valuable space in your brain. You won’t have to worry about remembering the little things because you already have them written down and planned out. For more read How to Create a Badass To-do List.
Upgrade: don’t add new things to do your to-do list mid-day or mid-week
Once you’ve gotten in the habit of making a to-do list, get in the practice of not adding to it mid-day or even mid-week. You’ll be most productive and efficient if you can focus on finishing projects or tasks before you start new ones. If something does come up, add it to the next day or next week’s to-do list to keep yourself making progress, but without feeling like you’re putting out fires.
The obvious problem with working from home is not being focused enough, but for certain people the problem can be the exact opposite. It can be difficult for people to walk away from their work if it is just sitting there waiting to be done. It’s important to remember that breaks are good for your productivity, focus levels, and creative inspiration. Working for long amounts of time can lead to stress and exhaustion which no one needs. Schedule rewarding breaks throughout the day—i.e. coffee break at 10:15a, 12:00p lunch, and a 2:00p walk outside. Try moving your workspace from room to room as the sun moves for a change in scenery (good lighting in a Zoom video call never hurt anybody).
Every ping we get distracts us from our work, and at home we can be far more susceptible to stimuli we may not normally have in the office. Stay in flow by muting social media accounts that suck you into scrolling, or even put your phone in another room so you only check it at three predetermined times throughout the day. Similarly, check your email only once in the morning and once in the evening to avoid spending all day in your inbox and not actually getting any work done.
If something isn’t working—ADJUST.
Don’t feel bad about doing something different if you work better doing that thing differently. You do you.
From my home office to yours, I’m cheering you on!