As many struggle with the transition of working from home during the covid19 pandemic, we thought it would be helpful to share our most productive working from home habits. The countless fridge visits, the mindless scrolling, the constant interruptions, the search for a workspace, the procrastination; we´ve experienced it all, but after a few years we´ve got it this working from home stuff nailed (almost, kind of, mostly). Here are our top tips to work from home successfully:
Working from home takes discipline, it´s true. The fridge, the kids, the dog, the latest Netflix series and your partner are not usually there to distract or entertain you if you work outside of the home. It might take some time for the whole household to adjust to the new arrangements, so maintaining structure and discipline is key to a good work / life balance.
Prioritise and Plan
Normal working habits don´t go out of the window just because your outside of the office. In fact, it´s even more important to ensure you have your aims clearly mapped out. If you´re a one-woman-band adhering to a plan helps you to maintain self-discipline and for those managing teams it´s crucial for everyone to stay motivated and on-track. Prioritise, plan and try to stick with it. I´ll touch on why I added the “try to” later, so bear with me.
Set yourself Goals
Traditional goals are flying out of the window as businesses evolve in the current climate, so ask yourself, how have your business goals changed? Assess the situation and set yourself some new business targets. It´s always helpful to have something to work towards and you´ll get to enjoy the buzz when you achieve it. Oh, I love that buzz!
Use Time Blocking
Managing your daily schedule when working from home can be challenging, but time blocking is a game changer for productivity. Although a typical office day is eight hours long, none of us are at our most productive if we sit at a screen for that amount of time. To avoid burn out and enduring hours of glare, utilise time blocking; an hour to catch up on emails, an hour to manage social media and online platforms, two hours to complete a client proposal and 1 hour for catch-up calls with the team. By blocking out your time in advance and staying focussed, you can complete your tasks without being tied to a desk all day.
This requires cooperation from the whole household. Explain to them that when you´re working, you´re unavailable and basically not there. End of. It might sound extreme, but by staying focused for condensed periods you´ll have more down-time to enjoy together.
With all this talk of planning and productivity, taking a break might sound counter intuitive, but studies have shown it makes you more productive. Block out your time and schedule regular breaks throughout the day, so you can take a step back. It means you´re not totally absent from the household, it opens up some breathing room for creativity and it ensures your tasks and responsibilities are taken care of.
Don’t Start Work First Thing
When working from home, there is a tendency to wake up and get right to it but try to resist. Before going into the office, you´d have an hour or two at home getting ready for the day, so why should it be different from home? Adopt a morning routine and enjoy a bit of You time before the responsibilities of the day consume you. Keep it simple, find something you like and take a few minutes to enjoy it before you start your working day. It could be a quiet morning coffee, a shower without distractions, a bit of exercise, getting lost in a few chapters, listening to a podcast, or a morning meditation. There is no right or wrong working from home morning routine; do whatever floats your boat. It´s about taking a moment to centre yourself before tackling the tasks of the day.
WARNING: Don´t let a morning routine be another excuse for procrastination. Set a work start time, then allow enough time to wake up and enjoy your morning beforehand.
You´re still working, so get ready for work. The suit and heels aren´t necessary, but you´ll find you´re more productive if you get up, get washed and get dressed for the day. By all means keep it comfortable, but ditch the pyjamas for something you could actually wear out in public.
WARNING: The concept of dressing from the waist up is dangerous. To avoid any bottom-half online meeting disasters, keep those booties covered.
Food is fuel and you need it to stay productive. If like me, you´re guilty of skipping the first meal of the day, then pre stock the house with some minimal-fuss options. I´ll grab a banana, make avocado on toast or prep some overnight oats so it´s easy in the morning.
Find a Good Space to Work
An allocated workspace is essential if you´re working from home for a prolonged period. Find a quiet area, free from foot traffic, with as much natural light and fresh air as possible. A chair with good support will be your best friend and I´ve also invested in a footrest, keyboard wrist rest and adjustable screen stand.
Keep Your Desk Clear
Clear your workspace when you finish each day, so you start with a fresh, clean desk every morning. It sounds simple, but can easily be over-looked and it has an impact on your mindset and mentality.
When working from home, you and your team are missing out on the regular face-to-face meetings and coffee room catch-ups, which can have an impact on moral. Stay connected and keep everyone in the loop by utilising the many software solutions available online.
Our top picks include online meeting rooms, like those offered by Zoom; video calls through the likes of Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger; or casual chat groups on WhatsApp that keep the workplace banter alive.
WARNING: There is such a thing as too much communication, so avoid micromanaging. Assign tasks, outline timeframes and arrange update schedules in advance, so everyone knows what is expected.
In uncertain times, a stable online presence helps you to maintain the relationships and trust you have with your customers. A great way to do this is with regular blogs and social media updates. To avoid the responsibility of daily posting, set aside time each week to create and schedule content for your business in advance. You´ll be showing up without having to actually show up, and you´re customers will be happy to hear from you. Later is one of our favourite tools for this.
You´ve asked the family not to distract you while you´re working, but you´ve got to check yourself too. Take responsibility for removing distractions from your workspace. That means no personal calls, messages, memes or scrolling during work time. Tuck that personal phone away!
A big part of staying focussed is staying hydrated. Grab a glass of water before sitting down to work and you´re good to go.
Grab Snacks in Advance
You will snack, it´s inevitable, so to avoid countless trips to the fridge (a.k.a procrastination) we recommend grabbing snacks before you sit down to work. I usually have a piece of fruit or bowl of nuts on the side, so they´re ready for me to munch when the mood strikes.
Review Your Schedule in Advance
Take ten minutes at the end of each day to review your schedule and check your tasks for the next morning. Staying organised means you can hit the ground running and there´s no time wasted deciding what to tackle first.
Allow for Flexibility
We are in unprecedented times and it´s unsettling. It affects businesses, staff, friends, families and communities; the ripple effect is huge. So, although a plan is important, it´s also important to be sensitive to the situation and remain flexible.
To avoid additional stress to you and your team, allocate plenty of time to meet deadlines, anticipate possible delays and keep everyone involved and up to date.
Have a Switch-Off Time
Working from home doesn´t mean you´re on duty until bedtime. We recommend giving yourself a switch-off time and try to stick with it. Of course, there will always be times when something crops up last minute and you´re needed, but as a rule, do your best to shut off and be present at home.
My Working From Home Experience
It does take some getting used to, but working from home has been a life changer for me.
I hope you find these tips useful. Some will gel with your lifestyle while others may not, so just pick and choose what works for you.
If you can think of anything I´ve missed, let me know in the comments...
Stay home. Stay safe.
Sarah & The Blogging Boutique
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