I’ve been working from home pretty much every day since 2015. While at first glance it may seem like the perfect situation (and in many ways it is), but there are lots of potential pitfalls and distractions when you’re solely accountable for your own workload. Over the years I have had to remain self-motivated and develop a routine in order to be able to stay productive and keep doing it successfully.
Here are some hints and tips that I have found useful when working from home.
Set up a dedicated working area. Whether it is a small desk a the back of a room or a shed at the bottom of the garden, create an area that is solely used for work-based activities.
Have a shower and get dressed. Getting up and ready as you would do for a working day elsewhere will help to change the mindset between work and home. It’s also useful should a last-minute video chat should happen – it’s unlikely that clients or colleagues will be impressed by your pyjamas and bed hair and being ready will avoid having to quickly jump in the shower or getting changed when you’re in the middle of something.
Plan your tasks in advance. When I start the day knowing what it is that I need to be working on, I find it much easier to plan and prioritise my tasks for the day, and for this I use a Bullet Journal. I use simple trackers for daily repeated tasks that are drawn out in a simple grid form, and I fill out individual tasks in a monthly calendar layout, colouring in the boxes as I go. This saves an enormous amount of time and I find the colouring rather therapeutic.
Time-block tasks and avoid multitasking. I know my general working routine well enough to have an understanding of how long my repeated daily tasks will take, but I like to time-block my day (set specific times in which to complete tasks) so I can prioritise my workload. I always like to start with the larger, more complicated and time-consuming tasks, and put the shorter (and often more fun) tasks towards the end of the day, almost as a reward. I work through my tasks one at a time and ensure that each is fully completed before moving on to the next.
Set clear boundaries with loved ones. People often wrongly assume that working from home means that you spend your day sitting in a coffee shop or having a lazy afternoon in front of the TV. Don’t answer your personal phone unless you think it’s an emergency.
Where possible, try and get ahead. If a large amount of your work involves things like scheduling, try and take a few minutes each day to get ahead. I love the feeling of starting a new week knowing that a large chunk of my scheduling has already been completed.
Create specific working hours. Without a daily commute it can be easy to continue to work long after the time you would normally finish. If you are contracted to finish your working day at a certain time, then set an alarm at that time as a reminder to finish soon. If you are working for yourself, decide on your own hours and stick to them.
Take regular breaks and avoid doing household jobs in that time. It is necessary to take regular breaks, even for 5-10 minutes, but use this time to recharge your brain and give your eyes a rest. Go outside for a few minutes, stretch your legs and take in some fresh air. Avoid starting any cleaning or tidying jobs around the house as this will inevitably take longer than anticipated, resulting in it becoming more difficult to switch back into work mode.
Avoid prioritising those who shout the loudest. If you are working with multiple people, clients and/or companies, try to avoid immediately dropping your entire plan for the day for someone who is particularly needy or demanding. Asses the urgency of a task and slot it into your working day accordingly.
Eat as healthily as possible and drink lots of water. Make sure that you eat lunch. Have a bottle of water nearby as a reminder. Want ideas about creating healthy daily habits? Visit here!
Create motivational playlists. I have a specific working playlist filled with my favourite uplifting music that never fails to motivate me when I’m feeling a bit sluggish.
Put the technology down and walk away. When your working day is done, put your technology away and either walk away or put it in another room. Avoid checking your emails or looking at stats.
Have an effective and joyous evening. Your own time is for you, and it is important that you do things that make you happy. Whether it is catching up on your favourite shows, going for a run or to a fitness class, having a long, hot bath, reading a book or doing something creative, your time away from work should involve things that are completely unrelated to work.
Get some sleep. It’s tempting to stay up until 1.00am watching your favourite shows on Netflix when you know that you will be working from home the next day, but it’s important for your body and mind to get enough rest to reset and recharge, particularly if your work is fast-paced and stressful.
What about you guys? What are your best tips for working from home?
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