Master the art of working from home with these helpful tips and tricks.
Right now a good portion of the workforce in the United States is learning something already known by seasoned teleworkers—working from home can be tough!
Working from the comfort of your own home is a dream for many people, but the reality is that transitioning from an office position to working from home comes with a lot of challenges. Thankfully, by taking the time to organize your workday and your home office area, you can stay productive and on top of your responsibilities.
Here are 7 tips and tricks to try as you navigate through this new experience of working from home.
1. Daily routines are the foundation of being successful at working from home.
When it comes to increasing productivity and achieving a happy work-life balance, nothing tops a daily routine. Daily routines not only help us with time management—something that’s even trickier when you work from home—but they also have a positive impact on our mental health.
Create a flexible but efficient schedule that you can structure each day around. It’s helpful to base your new work-from-home routines around your typical work schedule. This means waking up at around the same time, following through with your normal morning routine, and starting work when you’d normally be heading into your office.
2. Create a workspace in your home that is distraction-free and motivating.
Right behind the importance of a daily routine is the importance of a dedicated workspace. Taking the time to set up a workspace in your home is well worth the effort when it comes to staying productive, especially when you’re not sure how long you’ll be working from home.
Ideally, your workspace will be separate from the rest of your home. This might mean turning the guest bedroom into an office or simply putting a desk in the corner of your living room. You want a desk or table with enough surface area for your computer and any important papers. A comfortable, ergonomic chair is also a wonderful idea.
Most importantly, your workspace should be free of distractions and designed in a way that motivates you. Some individuals prefer silence while working while others might focus better with music on in the background. If you’re really missing the office environment, check Spotify or YouTube for free office or cafe ambient soundtracks.
3. Ditch the comfy pants and get dressed, especially if you have a big project due.
Dressing for success is just as important in a professional environment as it is when you work from home.
For easy days when you might just be checking emails, wearing your comfy clothes is fine. But if you have a big project coming up or simply feel unmotivated, get dressed in your favorite office outfit. When you get dressed in whatever you’d typically wear at work, you’re subconsciously preparing yourself for a productive day.
4. Keep in touch with your team daily and practice patience when communicating with coworkers.
Make it a goal to reach out to your team or a fellow coworker on a daily basis. This doesn’t always have to be work-related. In fact, a simple positivity-filled “good morning” group message is a wonderful way to encourage others and let them know you’re thinking of them.
Another important thing to keep in mind when communicating with your coworkers is to remember that everyone is experiencing life differently right now. Certain personality types can find it harder to cope with working from home and being away from a busy office atmosphere.
Be patient. When communication is tough or you’re not quite getting the responses you’d like when collaborating, give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
5. Make note of when you’re most productive while working from home and don’t forget to take breaks.
When you work from home you get the unique opportunity to experiment with your schedule and see when your productivity is naturally at its peak.
Keep track of your working hours and write down when you feel most focused. You can also use apps like RescueTime to see how you’re spending your time and when you’re most productive. From there you can shift your daily routine to fit these blocks of time to get even more done.
Don’t forget that productivity isn’t all about getting work done; it’s also about when to take a break. Surveys show that the average person can only focus on a task for about 1½ to two hours before they need a break. An easy way to organize your breaks is to use the Pomodoro method, which calls for 25 minutes of focused work followed by a five-minute break. After four sessions, you then get a longer 15- to 30-minute break.
You can make timing easier by looking for free Pomodoro timer apps on your phone.
For more useful apps and tools see this post: The Best Tools For Building Your Career While Working at Home.
6. Share your work schedule with your kids and create a “no interruptions” visual signal.
Juggling kids home from school and working from home has its own set of challenges. You might need to play around with your daily routine until it works with your kids’ needs, but you can start by sharing your work schedule with them.
Let them know at what times you’ll be busy with work and create a silent visual signal for when you can’t be interrupted. For example, if you’re deeply focused on a project or in a virtual meeting, instruct your kids that a raised hand means you’re busy and everything but an emergency needs to wait.
You can also print a general work timetable so school-age kids and teens will know when to be quiet and when they can come into your workspace to ask you a question.
7. Start using a daily planner to keep track of work responsibilities and to-do lists.
A daily planner or some sort of planning system is an important tool when you work from home. You can either invest in a physical planner, use a digital planner, or a combination of the two (i.e. Google Calendar and a notebook).
You can user this planner to keep track of virtual team meetings, project deadlines, and other important dates as well as time blocking your daily schedule. It can also serve as a to-do list so you don’t forget about returning an email or finishing an edit on a newsletter.
At the end of your workday, take a few moments to review how your day went. Finish by writing a short list of tasks that need to be completed the next day, ranked by urgency.
Working from home can be a rewarding experience.
Whether you view working from home as a welcome break from the office or consider it a challenge, strive to keep a positive outlook whenever you can. When you feel stressed, remind yourself that what’s happening is temporary. If working from home feels almost like a vacation, fantastic! And if not, consider it a valuable challenge that will help you learn new skills and advance your career.