Working with clients throughout the years, I’ve helped many people learn how to effectively work from home. I’ve had a home office for years so I understand a lot of the pitfalls that people go through. Whether you have lost your job and are starting a new business or your office has been closed, here are some key strategies I have learned from experience over the years.
Find your most effective work time.
If you can, be flexible with when you work. Everyone has a productive time of the day. Mine is in the first part of the morning. Yours might be noon or later in the afternoon. So when I make my schedule the night before, I write my three most important things complete or dig deep into. Without office interruptions, you will find that you can get a lot done in a shorter amount of time.
If you are a morning sprinter, be careful of getting up and bringing your coffee straight to your desk in your robe. It’s important that you establish healthy routines. Maybe you want to work out or read the news first. Take a shower and dress like you are there to work, especially since a lot of us have video meetings. It allows your mind to shake off the cobwebs of sleep and get your thoughts in order.
I get up and stretch and do breathing exercises in the morning, then I take my dog, Nate, for a walk. This gives my body and mind a little buffer time to create focus before I start working and get my brain working at its optimum level.
Break the day into sprints.
I find that my focus is really only good for an hour at the most, so I have an alarm set to remind me to look up from the computer. It’s a good time to get up and have a glass of water or my second cup of coffee. Sometimes I will do another five minutes of breathing or stretching.
Be careful about mindlessly getting up and getting distracted by shiny things around the house and getting off track. Be aware that the refrigerator is somewhere in that house, and we sometimes have a tendency to mindlessly walk to it to check to see if the food is still there. I call this the grazing syndrome; it’s an unconscious response that has caused a lot of my clients to gain weight. Remember, the habits you create now will follow you…that goes for the good and the bad.
I repeat three sprints until lunch and make sure I’ve completed my most important tasks since I start to lose focus around the early afternoon.
I think it’s important to take lunch. Schedule a lunch with friends or family (depending on if you are socially distancing if you read this during the pandemic). Try to give yourself variety during the week. For me, I schedule my calls after lunch if I can. I know some of you don’t have that choice. It’s about finding your effectiveness schedule. I’m all for if you can get done early and go enjoy free time then do it. The paradigm of our workweek has changed and continues to change.
Set your workspace up for success.
This is the most important aspect of working at home: making sure you have your own space that your family or partner knows is your space. It’s also important to set up space, to make sure you have enough light and keeping your desk and office space organized.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients is that the people they live with don’t respect that they are working. If you are living with other people, sit down, and create some rules. It’s okay to have boundaries, you can explain this will give you more quality time later. If they need to ask you a question or have to give you an update, you could ask them to keep a pad and paper with them and every time they have something come up, have them write it down. Then you set up at the time that works for everyone, giving them real quality time.
As I advise my clients, if you are going to give them that time, really be present and listen. I think you find that you can hear so much more of what they want to communicate to you and they will have the experience of really being heard. It works out pretty well for all parties.
The new normal.
The only thing that is certain is change. So be creative, try different spots to do your work from. I take my laptop to the park sometimes…it’s really for you to create. Make sure you have a quitting time at the end of the day and it’s important if you live alone that you don’t isolate yourself.
All companies want and need you to be happy. Balance is the key to this whole deal. Talk to your higher-ups, tell them what you need and what will help you do the best work. Think outside of the box; you don’t have to be tied to your desk for eight or ten hours a day if you are using your time effectively.
Try new things and use the time you would have spent commuting to create healthy habits. Make some time to do hypnosis, breathe, or meditate.
Working from home can be even more rewarding and productive once you find a style and routine that fit you.