More and more people are working from home, especially at the time of writing this having the coronavirus spread all over the world. For many it can be challenging, which is why I thought I’d share my best tips for succeeding when working from home.
What I’ve Learned Working From Home
During the last couple of weeks, many have been sent home to work because of the coronavirus. I’ve talked to some of my friends and professional contacts, and it seems they all find it difficult and challenging to be working from home. Now, they have “new” distractions, instead of people dropping into the office, it’s now laundry, television, cleaning, their kids, etc.
Just like when you’re at work, distractions will find you when working from home. But it’s so easy to let distractions get the better of your time now that you’re working by yourself. As I sat down to write this post, I went down a rabbit hole planning my first outside run in my new neighborhood, just to say I’m not perfect. It’s essential to have a plan and set up some work routines to help limit distractions. Having that in place will help make the most of your workday when working from home.
That’s why I’ve decided to share some of my experiences from years of working from home, and I’ve come up with five actions you can implement to boost your productivity and well-being when working from home.
Working From Home Strategies
That Will Boost Your Workday
Have a Designated Workstation or Room
Working from home can be challenging. If you’re used to working in an office environment and all of a sudden find yourself working from your dining table or your behind deep in the couch, then you need to reconsider your options. I’ve done both, but it wasn’t until I got a designated workspace my productivity started flowing.
If you’re only going to be working from home for a week or two, then working from your dining table or couch can be a durable solution. But if you have to be working from home for a considerably longer time, then I highly recommend finding a better way of “going to work.” I suggest either having a room or setting up a better workstation than your couch or dining table.
It Might Be Cozy, But It’s Bad For You
As I said, I’ve been doing both. Spending your day working from your couch is not only bad for your physical health. You also won’t feel you’re getting off from work when you finish working either. Your days can turn into a blur, not getting your behind off the couch for days. It might be cozy, but not something I recommend doing if you’re going to be working from home for longer periods.
When I first started working from home, I didn’t have an office or designated workstation. First, I changed the set up in my living room, bringing a bookshelf in, so I had somewhat of an office sitting by my dining table. It worked okay, at least it was better than hurting my back by sitting on the couch. But when I got myself a stand-up desk and put it in the corner of my living room, I created my workstation. What I found was that it made me more productive. And, when I finished work, then I would “treat” myself by using the couch.
Your work environment will be critical for how much you’ll be doing and how well you’ll be coping with working outside your normal office environment. Setting up a workstation or having a room you can convert into a home office is the way to go if you’re going to be working from home for a longer period.
Daily Virtual Check-ins With Colleagues
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should be cutting off the daily contact with your colleagues. Having daily team check-ins in the morning can be a great way to stay in-tune with what’s going on. It might even help reduce the otherwise endless emails that could be circulating between you and your team members. Having catch-ins in the morning, you’ll be in the loop with what’s going on in your team. And, if necessary, you could also do a check-in by the end of the day to help close down your workday.
If you just can’t get enough of your colleagues, why not arrange to eat lunch together via Skype or some other video conference tool, such as Zoom.
Does your partner work from home as well? Then plan to have a lunch-break together, now that you’ve got the chance to spend time together.
If you’re not already using a virtual video tool within your team, then I suggest you check out Zoom which is great for short catch-ups. The free version will let you have up to 40-minute meetings with three or more participants. Skype is another great way to host your virtual meetings.
Plan Your Workday The Day Before
First of all, getting up and dressed like you would if you had to go into the office is a must. Otherwise, you can end up in a slump in your pj’s or hoodie, which will hurt your productivity. It’s all about how you “show up” and putting you into the right mindset to help you be productive. When you’re working from home, knowing what you’ll be doing from the get-go and having a plan ready when you begin the workday will increase your productivity throughout the day.
I suggest planning your next day by the end of each workday. Doing that will help you be productive from the moment you sit down by your desk in the morning.
Have A Workday Startup And Shutdown Routine
When you’re working from home, it can be hard to set boundaries for your working hours. Not being able to set those can have implications on your personal and family life.
Recently, I was introduced to a great idea and routine by Michael Hyatt. In his Full Focus Planner Michael has four daily routines. Those being a morning and evening routine, and then a workday startup and shutdown routine. I know from years of working from home how hard it can be to set those boundaries, especially when it’s time to end the workday.
Putting a routine in place to start your workday will help you get in the right frame of mind. Once you’ve gone through your routine, you’re ready to dive into your planned work for the day. And, you don’t have to check your emails or LinkedIn for at least a couple of hours. That will also help you be more productive and focused on your tasks at hand.
It’s the same having your work shutdown routine setup. Having gone through your routine, you’ll know it’s time to stop working and be with your family.
Take A Break And Get Out
When you’re working from home, you’re cutting the commute to and from work out of your schedule. That’s why I suggest you add going for a 30-minute walk to rejuvenate to your daily work plan. Doing that, say, after lunch, will help you focus and be more productive as you’re heading to the finish line of your workday.
Working from home takes some getting used to, and you need to adjust to this new situation. I hope the strategies I’ve shared will help you transition better to be working from home. If you implement them as soon as you can, then I promise you’re off to a great start!
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