My Top 12(-ish) Tips for Working from Home - Successfully!
I’ll be honest – when I first had the opportunity to work from home, I thought it was going to be a blast! I’m organised, motivated, a self-starter. So, how hard could it be?
Turns out pretty hard and it can actually feel quite uncomfortable to begin with. It takes a whole new level of discipline to make it work not just from a productivity perspective but, perhaps more importantly, a personal perspective. And the novelty wears off pretty quickly! So how best can you make it work for you?
1. Stick to your usual morning routine - Set your alarm for the same time and get washed, dressed and have breakfast as usual. These steps mentally prepare you for your working day and mark it as different from a week-end or holiday. It’s easy to fall into the trap of snoozing a while longer and logging in wearing your PJs. For most of us, that is simply a recipe for a seriously unproductive day!
2. Maintain the same working hours - Know and adhere to your start time and be sure to schedule time for your lunch break. Understand how many hours you are required to work so that you know what time you will finish. So, if you’re a 7-hour working day you might start at 9am and work to 5pm with a one-hour lunch break.
3. Build in some flexibility - Check if you need to be available at specific times. If you worked until 6pm, could you have an extended lunch or hit the gym mid-afternoon? Breaks like these really can improve your productivity!
4. Finish work at finishing time - Have an end of day routine – log off the computer, sign out of any work-related messages or notifications and switch off the phone/switch on voicemail …. and walk away!
5. Take breaks - Take a short break every couple of hours to grab a coffee, rest your eyes and stretch your legs. It’s like a mini re-boot and it’s what you would do in the office, right?
6. Maintain the boundaries - Whilst some flexibility can work, too much blurring of home life and work life can be counter-productive. Don’t combine working with doing a list of household chores. You will do neither particularly well and just stress yourself in the process. That said, loading the washing machine while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil is very different from starting to clean the windows!
7. Physically separate home and work life - If possible, work from a spare room that you have a sense of “going to work.” Otherwise, assign a specific area for work, preferably with minimal traffic. You may need to set some ground rules for family that they know when you are working and what can/can’t be done during that time.
8. Get outside morning and lunchtime - Fresh air and sunlight are not only essential for our health but proven to improve our mood. Positivity increases productivity! Going for a walk outdoors can also help reset your natural body rhythms and improve your sleep.
9. Get some exercise - The very act of working from home means you are less active so, as well as a daily walk, schedule some work-out time. It can also be a great way to get some social engagement.
10. Use video chat - Stay in regular contact with colleagues. Platforms and apps like Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams are perfect for ensuring that you still feel part of a team. Use them for scheduled formal meetings and more casual catch-ups. Why not grab a cup of coffee and have an online natter?
11. Log out of social media sites during working hours (unless, of course, your business is primarily operating on these channels). If you lack the self-discipline, try a blocking apps like Freedom, Flipd or FocusMe.
12. Cook from scratch – Spend some of the travel time saved to prepare food and experiment with recipes. Home cooking is more nutritious, typically saves money and gives you back control of the nutrients you are getting.
If there was a final point (because, yes, I’m choosing not to finish on 13), it would be to not guilt yourself into doing more. It’s so easy to think “sure, I would have been driving by now anyway” or “I have a free five minutes, I’ll just check my email.” Just because you can, does not mean you have to!
We are all very different, and will all find our own way. This is what worked for me. I'd love to know if you have any other ideas that you're happy to share.