5 Ways to Make Working From Home Work for You
You can be successful and productive at home with these strategies.
Tealfeed Guest Blog
Working from home. Remote work.
“Sitting on the couch with a laptop and your cat while you write reports.”
Call it what you want, but for a lot of us, it’s going to be the new normal.
For those of us that are used to getting up every day and heading into the office, making a sudden shift to working from home can be overwhelming.
There are so many distractions and other things around the house to pull your attention away from your work.
It could be the laundry leftover from the weekend or the sudden need to fix a squeaky door that you’ve been putting off for months.
Whatever it is, it’s a challenge.
If you’re self-employed, you’re more likely to already be set up at home in your office, kitchen or basement, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from optimizing where and how you work.
And giving some thought to your routine and processes that can help you thrive now and well into the future.
To make the transition to working from home easier, try using one some or all of these strategies to help you stay productive and successful.
Stick To A Schedule
When you’re working from home it can be easy to treat every day like a weekend. Maybe you decide to sleep in one day and stay up later the next to get things done or decide to not take a lunch break.
As much as possible, stick to the same schedule you had when you were going to the office. Wake up at the same time and wrap up your day when you usually would. While working for yourself offers limitless flexibility, you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. Decide each day when you’ll work and find a time management system that works for you.
Your brain needs the predictability of a set schedule in order to perform at its peak and help you avoid distractions. Schedules are an important way to set boundaries and limits that will keep you focused.
Trying to work without a schedule will usually result in hours of lost time as you find yourself pulled away by distractions you didn’t have at the office. While this is inevitable, be mindful of how much time you actually spend working on work projects, and how much time you’re pulled into other activities.
Track your day using an app like Harvest or HoursTracker (and there are plenty more options out there) that lets you breakdown your hours by project and even task. Both of these apps are designed for hourly work tracking and billing, but you can still make the most of their features to get an idea of where your time goes.
Remember that time goes where your energy flows — so make the most of it.
Create A Morning Ritual
If you’ve been wanting to start a morning routine or ritual and just haven’t had the time, now is your chance.
Since you’re ditching the commute, now you have time to read and journal, start a meditation practice or get in some exercise. You could also take more time to make a healthy breakfast or get in a quick walk with your dog.
When I first wake up, I spend an hour meditating and writing in my journal. This has become a critical part of my morning ritual, as it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Usually, I’ll spend time writing ten things I’m grateful for, and then write out my affirmations for the day.
I work out in my basement, eat breakfast and shower before my husband and son leave for work and school, though while we’re on coronavirus lockdown they’re both at home.
For me it’s also important that I wear something business casual, make an effort to do my hair and put on some makeup. It sets the tone for my day and demonstrates (even if it’s just to myself) that I mean business.
Think about what activities or practices you might enjoy best and work them into your schedule. Ask yourself what will leave you feeling energized and ready to take on the day and then make it a priority.
Make Dedicated Work Space
Much like sticking to a schedule and creating a routine, having a space dedicated to “work” is important to help you stay productive.
It can be easy to think that you’ll work from your couch, or maybe even from your bed and still get stuff done.
Again, going back to that “your brain likes predictability” thing — having a dedicated space to work serves as an important environmental cue to reduce distraction.
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy especially when you’re first starting out, but you need to have part of your space dedicated to work. This consistency will help you focus in the same way that a schedule will give structure to your day.
You might not have an office at home, but you can claim dedicated space at your kitchen table, in your basement, or even in a converted closet. Stash your essential office supplies in small containers or a large plastic bin that you can quickly move out of the way when your day is done.
In my case, I use my large kitchen table as my workspace during the day and quickly transform it for dinner at 6:00 pm. The cost has been minimal — a standing desk converter, a small box to hold my office supplies, agenda and any paper files I have and my indoor houseplants are everywhere. Once my workday is over I can have my ‘office’ cleaned up and out of the way in under two minutes.
Tackle Your Task Aversion
The less inclined we are to do a task, the more likely we are to put it off. Depending on what it is we can look for anything to keep us from actually jumping in and just getting it done.
In my experience, task aversion increases 10-fold when you’re working from home because of the variety of distractions and other things I’d rather be doing. If there’s a task I really don’t want to do, I turn to tech and my phone to provide a convenient distraction from the work that’s right in front of me.
Responding to an email from a grumpy client.
Let me check my Instagram feed first.
Planning for a new project?
I’ll get back to you once I’ve double-checked that I’ve dealt with all my notifications on Facebook.
Writing a report.
Just let me check my email for the 20th time today.
More often than not, we’re searching for increased leisure time and will do what we can to avoid tasks that threaten our ability to relax. Task aversion can also vary widely on how we’re feeling, and how much energy we have. It can be dependent on the time of day, the other things on our to-do lists and the priorities that we have.
Awareness of task aversion is the first step in getting a hold of it before it sends your work from home plans into a downward spiral. Write down what tasks specifically cause you to look for a distraction, and see if they’re connected to your energy levels, or how you feel about your work.
Get Some Exercise
You’ve probably heard this one many times, but exercise is another simple tool that can have a big impact on your productivity.
Whether it’s something like running, cycling or swimming, cardiovascular exercise can boost your mood, reduce your stress, and allow your mind to go onto autopilot. It’s during these autopilot sessions where our brains can process and work through complex ideas.
Walking also has a significant benefit to creative processes and can increase your productivity. Not only does it get you up and moving, which is a boost to your physical health (because we’re all sitting too much!), but it stimulates the brain in the same way as more intense cardio.
I read a lot about productivity, one of the most consistent themes that come up time and time again is the habit of walking or gentle exercise after a long period of focused attention.
A study from Stanford University suggests that walking can boost your creative output by as much as 60%.
So get out there and get moving.
Working from home can come with a lot of benefits, but it’s also a big change if you’re used to commuting to the office. By sticking to a schedule and creating routines that work for you, you’re more likely to stay productive and not get caught in your pajamas at 3 pm, having done nothing.
Create a dedicated workspace for yourself that can be easily transformed when you’re not busy with work tasks. Identify where you tend to avoid certain tasks and come up with strategies to plow through your aversion. Look for ways to incorporate regular exercise to boost your creativity, productivity and to keep your mind sharp.
This article was originally published by Shannon hennig on medium.
Tealfeed Guest Blog