Working from home can be rewarding. You avoid traffic and save commuting time, and can have lunch with your family. Your day pajamas can be considered “business casual”. But it also comes with its own set of challenges. Many of these challenges can be surmounted, with a few solid habits. Here’s a few tips and tricks to successfully working from home.
When working from home, you have a lot of flexibility. But, it is easy to take advantage of that flexibility and develop some poor time management habits. It usually means you will get into a pattern of either working too much, or working too little.
I have found that having a schedule when you work from home is crucial. Not only will a start time help you motivate to get going each morning, but it will tell you when to stop at the end of the day. When you are working from home, the lines between work and play can easily become blurry. If you are like me, that means working all the time, and feeling guilty when you are not working, no matter how many hours you put in. Having a set starting time, and a set end time will help you know when to get going and when to close that computer.
If your job allows flexibility, don’t feel like you need to stick to the traditional 9-5, but choose the hours you are most productive and that work with the people around you. Some prefer to start work early, other prefer to work late. Splitting your day can even work, and give you time during the day for leisure activities.
Designate a Working Space
It can be tempting to work straight from bed. (I used to joke that my morning commute was the time it took to stretch out and wake up the computer.) But working from bed is a bad habit to get into. Not only is it rough on your body, it can be difficult to separate work from your home life. Find a good spot in your house that can be set aside as your workspace. Make sure it is comfortable, free of distractions and has a supportive chair.
If you are struggling to remain focused, consider creating physical reminders that indicate your work space. If you do not have a separate room that can be your office, a movable privacy screen can help cut out distractions. Add a small rug to your workspace, allowing your brain to associate this space with work. Avoid using this space for non-work related activities, and train your brain to focus when you are in your work space.
Use Technology to Stay Connected
Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean you have to be work independently. If you haven’t already, set up Slack to chat with coworkers. Use video conferencing for regular meetings. Having designated work and play means of communication will help you shut off when during your off hours. A slack channel can also provide a historical record of your chat, for other members of your team to stay in-the-know.
It can be tempting to see working from home as an opportunity to catch up on laundry, cooking or other at home tasks. Don’t. These will become distractions that eat away at your day and your productivity. Plan chores and other activities for outside your set work schedule, or adjust your work schedule for that day.
It can be easy to get caught up in your tasks that you avoid breaks altogether. But taking a break helps you stay focused and be more productive when you are at the computer. Many find it helpful to get away from the computer for your breaks. Get a coffee. Get 5 minutes of fresh air. Go chat with your family. When you return to your computer, you will be more refreshed and focused.
Communicate Expectations to Family
You are likely to have other people in the house while you are working. For those not experienced with working from home, they will equate working from home as “available”. You’ll want to set the expectations that when you are working, you are not available. If you have set hours, or a designated workspace, you will have a better chance of setting boundaries with your family.
Get Fresh Air at Least Once a Day
Fresh air does wonders for mental health. Don’t forget to get outside, change your view and get some fresh air every day.
Working remotely is definitely a skill that you learn, not something you have or don’t have. We hope these tips will help you be more successful. Drop us a line and let us know your best tips and tricks for successfully working from home.