It’s the dream, isn’t it? Being able to work from your couch, not having to get dressed or commute or survive office chit chat over a broken printer? Except now that we’re all living the dream, some of us are discovering that working from home can really mess up your home life, and isn’t always as easy as it sounds. To help those of you who are new to this style of working, here are 10 tips and tricks for working from home from someone who has been doing it successfully for a few years:
1. Keep waking up at your usual time, and go through your usual morning routine, including getting dressed. Even if you’re just changing from dirty pyjamas to clean ones, change your clothes. If you’re going to be participating in any video chats, have a nice, clean shirt ready to throw on.
2. Use your commute time to do the things you never used to have time for in the mornings, like eating a proper breakfast. The better your breakfast is, the less likely you’ll be distracted by hunger and snacking later, so fill up on a bowl of oatmeal with fruit preserves and nuts, or a veggie omelet.
3. Use another few minutes of your commute time to get in some exercise. Whether it’s a walk in the neighbourhood or a YouTube yoga or an Instagram Live workout, getting your blood flowing and shaking off the night is a great way to shift your brain over to work mode.
4. Make your bed. It’s a lesson we all learn in treatment, and there’s no reason to quit now. In fact, making your bed as soon as you’re out of it is even more important now that you’ll be home all day, tempted to get back into it. A made bed will remind you that you’re not allowed back in until bedtime, so get back to your office!
5. Office? What office? Yeah, it’s time to set one up. Create a workspace wherever you can, with whatever you need to get your job done within reach. If you aren’t home alone, make sure a good pair of headphone are part of your setup, both so that you can participate in phone meetings, and to drown out distractions around you. If possible, position your workspace somewhere where you get as much natural light as possible. Make sure you are at your workspace the minute your workday starts.
6. Use timers. When your kids want to play, when your partner wants to chat, when you’re starting to think taking out the garbage would be a welcome distraction, refer to your timers. For yourself, you’ll want to implement the Pomodoro Technique with timers like Focus Keeper or Marinara Timer. These will help you stay focused on work for reasonable chunks of time, and lay out breaks when you need them. For your kids, set a timer somewhere they can see but not touch, like an oven timer, that lets them count down the hours or minutes that are left until lunchtime or the end of your workday.
7. Take a normal lunch break. When the timer goes off, walk away from your workspace for as long as your lunch break normally lasts. Eat something, play with your kids, chat with your roommates, partner, etc. Step outside, do some stretches, and prepare yourself to dive back in for the second half of your workday.
8. Stick to your normal quitting time. This works for you in two ways. 1. You have a deadline to work toward, and 2. Your work won’t leak into your personal time. Without a strict schedule, the hours can blend into each other and suddenly the day is over and it can feel like you didn’t accomplish a single thing. As you’re approaching the end of the day, start working on a list of what you’ll need to work on tomorrow — you’ll be grateful for that list in the morning! When your last timer of the day goes off, shut it all down and walk away. This is your chance to attack your personal to do lists and house chores, attend an online meeting, and spend time with family and friends. (Bonus: you can use your evening commute time for another exercise break to shake off the workday!)
9. Head to bed at your usual time, which should be 7-8 hours before your alarm clock is going to go off. The sense of accomplishment when you get into a made bed after finishing a full workday and enjoying an evening of leisure time is amazing.
10. Go easy on yourself. It can take a while to get used to working from a new space, especially when it’s the space you have always associated with being the exact opposite of work. Some days won’t be as productive as others, and that’s okay. The people you live with are also adjusting to this new reality, so be patient with each other as you settle into some new routines.
Let us know how these 10 tips and tricks for working from home helped you make the transition to remote working, and share your own tips in the comments below!