Working From Home: How To Be Productive and Successful
Working from home sounds like a dream. Until you actually start working from home, that is. In reality, it’s difficult to be productive in your own home. It's the biggest distraction there is! Don’t get discouraged. Here are 5 totally simple tips for successfully working from home. (Hint: It’s all about routine!)
1. Set Your Alarm
Yes! You’re now working from home and no longer have to deal with those nasty rush hour commutes! You’re saving on gas, possibly tolls too AND you get to sleep in everyday. Right? Well, it depends.
If your old commute was particularly long, then you might have time for a bit more shut eye each morning when you work remotely. But whatever you do, DO NOT get into the routine of rolling out of bed and going straight to your laptop.
Instead, set your alarm for 45 minutes to 1 hour before your workday begins. Spend this time exercising, showering, drinking your first cup of coffee or tea. Never had time for breakfast before work? Make yourself a healthy meal and sit down and eat it. Multi-task as you eat and read the news or use this time to catch up on social media. (Social media is a HUGE workday distraction. Get it out of your system before work starts.)
By the time your workday begins, you’ll be alert, refreshed and, most importantly, ready to be productive.
2. Dress For The Office
If video calls are part of your workday, this one is probably a no brainer. But even if no one is going to see you all day, it’s important to get out of your pajamas when working from home. Yes, pjs are comfy and feel good, but they’re for sleeping in and your body knows it. Plan and simple, you feel more confident when you dress well and put an effort into your outfit. This confidence leads to being more productive. For real!
Now, if you’re doing video calls and WILL be seen, you need to dress 99% the same way at home as you would at the office. Trust us, folks: Your boss or client does not want to see you in your pjs. Opt for a collared shirt, slacks, suit or jacket and a necktie.
Now, did you catch that 99%? There’s a 1% way your work from home outfit can change. With video conferences, your outfit will still be seen. But that’s it: Seen. Via a computer screen. Not up close. Not in detail. No one is going to touch your tie or feel your jacket.
So what does this mean? Basically your co-worker won't know the difference between your high end apparel and accessories versus the shirt or tie you got a deal on. They will, however, know if you wear the same outfit each and every time you video chat. Make sure you have a healthy rotation of shirts and ties in your closet. You don’t need to spend a lot on these items to look good over an internet connection. Polyester ties, like these $4.99 neckties, are great for working from home. The patterns are tasteful and there’s a huge assortment available. Trust us, these ties photograph really well, so they’ll look great via video, too. (Give it a couple weeks. Someone will comment on your tie.)
3. Designate A Work Space
Your bed or the couch are the comfiest places in your home to work. But comfy doesn’t mean productive. Whether you realize it or not, your body associates your bed and the couch with relaxation and sleep. Meaning this will never be the place you’re going to be the most motivated.
Instead, designate a distraction-free work area in your home. This is a MUST if others are at home while you’re working, (especially if those others are your kids). You need to distance yourself from anyone else who is home. If you’re lucky enough to have a home office, this is probably your best location. No home office? Don’t worry. Consider adding a small desk or table to a guest bedroom, your bedroom, living room or basement. The location really depends on your home, but above all make sure it’s a distraction-free location you can close off from others in your home.
4. Take Lunch
A lot of us eat lunch at our desks when we’re working in the office. But DON’T do it when working from home. If you’re working productively at home (that's the goal, right?), you’re not taking unexpected breaks by chitchatting with coworkers throughout the day. You’re sitting and working. Reward your efforts by getting up from your desk. Meet a friend for a quick bite. Make yourself lunch and check that social media again. If it’s nice out, take a short walk and get some fresh air. Play with your kids. Throw a quick load of laundry in. Really, the point is to do something to get your blood moving so you'll be ready to get back to work in the afternoon.
5. Stick To Regular Hours
Many people who work from home have the luxury of making their own hours. This flexibility is great, especially if you have errands to run, an event at your kid’s school, etc. However, you should really try to work a “normal” work day.
Our bodies get accustomed to routines. If you stick to that 9 to 5 workday, or at least something regular, you’re going to be more productive than working 10 to 6 one day, noon to 8 the next, etc., etc. A work life balance is important to mental health, too. If you’re sleeping till noon, grabbing your laptop and working in bed for eight hours, that balance won’t be there and your productivity will suffer. Make time to work, but have time for a life outside of your home office.
There you have it. Five totally simple tips to make working from home more effective. Start doing these tomorrow and let us know how much more work you're getting done.