Are You Working From Home Successfully? 20 Tips From People Who Are.
Working at home really is a gift… until your noisy neighbor starts shouting, we’ve all been there. For many of us, working from home is a luxury, bordering on a treat from our manager. Because of this, it does raise the question, is home work or office work more productive?
The regularity of your coworkers popping by your desk can be a help (or a hindrance, colleague dependent), by asking you to lunch or briefly socialising. This socialisation shouldn’t be overlooked as a benefit to your mental wellbeing, however, the presence of others can quickly become a hindrance when you are trying to get your head down.
The comfort of your own home where no one is watching, makes you free to do literally what you want, when you want. When your pesky coworkers aren’t around, therefore you do not feel the same obligations or pressure to be productive and get stuff done. This scenario can turn you into your own worst enemy.
Here we discuss 20 top tips for those working from home:
1. Start early in the morning.
Working at home turns your morning commute into a matter of seconds and while this sounds like the dream, often the morning sluggishness we all experience lasts longer without the daily stress of rush hour traffic to sit through.
Our first top tip involves starting work right away, first thing in the morning. By diving into one of your priority projects before breakfast, your mind will be more on the ball, sooner. Additionally, the productivity from your early morning start is more likely to keep you motivated well into the afternoon as opposed to procrastinating throughout the day. Get stuck in… get up and go!
2. Trick your brain to think you actually are going into your office.
When thinking of your office environment, one would assume you would be more productive there. The mental association of productive work and your office space forces this link into existence. When working from home, it is still possible to have this productive feeling. Only this time, from your front room.
Trick your brain by continuing the same morning routine you always have done. Make sure your alarm is set, make yourself a coffee ‘on the way in’ and wear office clothes if you have to. In addition to this, on your PC you can even have one browser for home and one browser for work so as to not mix business and pleasure.
3. Organise your working day.
In the physical absence of your manager make sure you’re your own personal manager. With no in-person meetings to provide computer breaks in your day, it wouldn’t be uncommon to lose focus fairly quickly without organisation.
To avoid this, take a digital calendar and segment your day up into sections of work. It also helps to create events or reminders in the calendar so you don’t get side tracked on different projects. Google calendar has a great tool that makes this easier.
4. Dedicate an area of your house solely to work.
Just because you’re not travelling to an office doesn’t mean you can’t have one. Instead of sitting back on your sofa all day or lounging in bed (or anywhere else that you would typically associate with relaxing), dedicate a space in your house just to work. This doesn’t have to be an entire room; it can just be a specific surface in the kitchen or a particular table.
This way you can separate areas in your home that are for work and for relaxing, increasing productivity in the long term.
5. Working from home doesn’t strictly have to be ‘at home’.
If your home office is becoming too familiar, the beauty of ‘working from home’ is that ‘home’ is wherever you decide it to be that day. Get out of the house and take your daily office to the library or to your local coffee shop. Anywhere that has WiFi is an option really. This way, you can have the atmosphere of an office without actually being in an official workspace.
Another benefit of this is not having the neverending list of chores staring at you!
6. Nip overuse of social media in the bud.
Social media is a gift and a curse. It is literally built for a ‘quick browse’ and when in your free time… brilliant, but at work it’s not ideal. Social media really can detriment your productivity.
There are a few ways you can make social media less accessible during your working day. By removing any browser shortcuts or apps off your phone this becomes slightly less accessible. In addition, if you log out of your profiles, social media is even harder to access still. This method does not ensure no social media use but the difficulty of getting into your accounts provides a physical block to this distraction.
7. Announce your commitment to a certain number of tasks.
By physically telling your colleagues that by the end of the day you will have x, y and z done, this will push you to getting as close to this number of tasks done as you can. Projects do typically take a larger number of hours than you anticipate and that’s ok, but by overestimating your tasks for the day to others, then even if you miss one or two, you still have got through a heck of a lot of work!
The key to working from home is staying productive, and any method that brings you closer to this goal is great.
8. Conduct the majority of work at your most productive time of day.
Nobody is 100% productive from 8am to 8pm and your motivation will come and go during the day. This is why it’s important to monitor when you are typically most motivated (and in turn productive) during your working day. This allows you to allocate certain tasks accordingly.
Therefore, you can structure your day so you can save the harder tasks for the times you will be most motivated, and the easier, more monotonous tasks for when you’re at your slowest. This allows you to work at peak productivity.
9. Business calls and meetings should be an afternoon affair.
By allowing yourself time in the morning to work on your own schedule you will provide yourself with not only the time to wake up but time to ensure you’re fully on the ball for said scheduled meeting. You can understand the meeting’s objectives and work without distractions so all necessary preparatory work is completed as a priority.
This time working of your own is absent of distractions so use it to your advantage!
10. One distraction at a time.
Ever heard the saying: “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”? This unique rule of productivity suggests that the more work you have to do the quicker you will get it done. Like Newton’s law: If you’re in motion, you’ll stay in motion. If you are at rest, you’ll stay at rest. Therefore we’re suggesting the faster pace you’re moving at the quicker you will get through your stack of work.
However, we do appreciate that motivation peaks and troughs when working from home for a number of reasons you wouldn’t typically experience at the office…
11. Schedule your workload, before you work.
Taking time to write lists and order your priorities often eats into the time where you actually should be working. If you have a list of tasks from the previous day that didn’t complete or jotted down the ones that needed completing tomorrow, you will have a prebuilt to-do list so all you need to do is sit down and start working.
You should make allowances in your calendar for last minute changes, but for the most part this should be carried out as anticipated. Try ensuring you have a list of tasks for the following day before finishing each evening.
12. Make the most of technology.
While working from home seems like a fantastic idea in the first instance, it is often not preferable in the long term as you may begin to make you feel isolated and after a while. This is why it’s important to stay connected, both through instant messaging and video chat tools such as Skype or Zoom. This will indirectly help you stay focused as you will be able to see the bigger picture you’re contributing to.
13. Pick your tunes with care.
While we’re all fond of some charts music from time to time, it will prove beneficial to keep your playlists diverse. Experts have suggested matching the music’s energy to the project you’re working on proves most effective. Certain playlists will be more suited to specific tasks… need to power through some emails: try some R&B, writing a blog post: some acoustic melodies could help. Mix it up and find what works best for you.
14. Your washing machine is your new egg timer.
Some people find it useful to use music as a marker of how long they have been carrying out a certain task… we’re saying try this with loads of washing! Why not use the start and finish times on a load of washing to get a particular task done and ticked off.
Experts suggest committing to one task for one washing cycle, then another task for the drying cycle. This segments time in your day up, therefore ensuring you don’t fall behind. It may sound superficial but why not give it a go? After all, you’re home alone with no colleagues to suggest it’s ‘not the right approach’ and bonus… your washing is also done!
15. Manage family members expectations during the day.
Just because you’re working from home it doesn’t mean you will be alone. Any roommates and family members that could be at home with you during the day should understand and respect your working hours. When we say ‘working from home’, you are still ‘working’ at the end of the day.
Sometimes this may involve plugging your headphones in and cracking on regardless, this is ok too.
16. Set a schedule of distinct breaks during the day.
Being at home all day can make it difficult to separate work and home. This may mean your breaks become blurred into working on your phone or something similar. There should be no guilt felt in taking 10 minutes simply to relax! We also recommend this time should be taken away from your desk, completely stepping away will boost your productivity no end.
17. Do isolate yourself away from others.
It’s important to bring working from home into perspective, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re unreachable. Talking to others during the day will make your day more sociable and enjoyable. The people you chose to speak to can be coworkers or not, it’s just crucial to maintain human contact, whoever the person may be, as the remainder of your day is solitary.
18. Don’t leave lunch until the last minute.
When working from home you have the added benefit of a full kitchen on hand! And while this can be tempting to cook yourself a gourmet lunch, it will eat into precious work time. If you were in the office you wouldn’t spend time chopping, blending or frying, so why do it at your ‘home office’?
Prepare your food ahead of time, perhaps even the night before. This ensures you will eat a nutritious substantial lunch and also leave time for the important stuff.
19. Finish your working day when you say you will.
A work-life balance is something that is difficult to maintain as it is, nevermind when the two worlds collide in your front room. In the absence of other coworkers collecting their things to head home for the day it wouldn’t be uncommon for us to forget to do, well… exactly that. Be sure to have a designated time leave your new workspace as not to be tempted to pick up an incoming email at 6.30pm!
20. Have your TV playing in the background.
Despite lack of any scientific evidence, having your TV on in the background has helped home workers from all industries, but mainly writers. Some journalists claim having the History Channel on a low volume completely changed the way they work.
There you have it. 20 top tips to make working from home that little bit easier, and certainly more productive. Check out our other posts for more.