As working from home becomes more commonplace, now more than ever, I wanted to share with you some tips I've come to adapt over the years. Over the last ten years, I have worked for companies that offered flexible schedules, allowing ample time to be spent in my home office.
It can be tough transitioning from a corporate office to a home space. What you may find to be the most challenging, as I do, is the balancing act of the blurred lines that working from home creates between work and home life schedules. A list of to-dos is coming from two places, both vying for your attention in a shared environment. A few best practices can be a game-changer in productivity and a stress-relief when working from home.
1. Stick to Your Routine
Get up at the same time and utilize that time gained from going into the office. It would be nice to replace that hour commute with an hour of ZZZs, but a more productive option is to knock off items from that to-do list. Do the dishes from breakfast, make your office coffee (hopefully it tastes better from home), and do a couple chores you typically would do when you come home. Doing this in the morning will help you feel your home is in order so that you can focus on work.
If you're like me, you do a lot of prep for work each night: setting the coffee maker, laying out your clothes, and packing your lunch for the next day. Keeping these nightly routines will help you to stay in the mind space of working and not add additional work to your morning, especially if you opt to take those extra ZZZs ;).
2. Dress for the Office
You may choose to make your home office business casual instead of suit and tie, either way, getting ready for the day will set you up for a working mindset. Not to mention, no one wants that embarrassing moment when they realize they enabled video instead of the microphone only option, allowing the entire conference call audience to see your picture pajamas and messy hair.
3. Have a Designated Workspace
A designated workspace is another way to get you in that working groove. The space needs to be work only and clear of distractions, even if you don't have an office, and you're stuck in the breakfast nook.
4. Minimize Distractions
Start with the daily techniques you use at work by setting your phone to vibrate or silent and plugging in with some headphones to keep your focus.
If there are other people in your home, you both need to set ground rules with each other on your expectations for at-home work etiquette. Josh and I learned the importance of this during the great Houston snow dusting a few years back. For those of you not from Houston, yes, I meant to type dusting-light snow ;). Everything shut down, and we quickly learned about a few work habits that distracted the other person, and now we're aware of how to be more courteous towards one another.
Another great tip for working around others in your home is to share schedules, remember their breaks may not be when you take your breaks. Let each other know when you have a conference call or are meeting a big deadline, especially if you're working from a common area like the kitchen, this will allow them to know not to sing their favorite tune when getting a drink.
For kids, let them know what time your scheduled breaks are and that unless there's an emergency to write down what they want to tell you and to share it during break time.
5. Create a Schedule
Putting together a list of to-dos, and scheduling it on the calendar prevents me from feeling overwhelmed. A schedule helps you to focus on one task at a time without getting distracted.
6. Take Breaks
When working from home, it's harder to remember to take breaks. Office breaks tend to happen more organically, whether welcomed or not, someone may pop over to your cube for an impromptu chat, or you may run into someone on your way to the water cooler. Don't be afraid to be social during your break. Meet a friend for lunch or take a walk and get some fresh air.
Be sure to comment below to share your best practices for working from home.
Until next time,