5 Ultimate Tips for Working from Home
In light of the global situation we are facing, many people have moved their work from the company office to their homes. While some already have experience working from home, others are completely new at working remotely.
Whether you are working from home by your own choice or due to mandatory company policies, a full-time job can be an entirely different experience outside of your office. Getting used to this new reality may take some time. However, it is something we must all get accustomed to, as there is no telling when we can start returning to our old routines.
With that said, although being efficient while working from home may pose a challenge at first, it certainly has many benefits once you get used to it and become adept at organizing and balancing your time.
Below are five tips for working from home to get you on the right track and help you make the most of spending more time at home.
1. Create an Office Experience at Home
First things first, you should designate a working space within your home. Sure, there are people who can be equally productive regardless of their surroundings, but for most of us, this is not the case. We are beings of habit and our brain is wired to work differently depending on external stimuli. This is why having an area you will use exclusively for work can be very beneficial for your productivity levels.
After some time, your brain will automatically switch to work mode as soon as you walk into your at-home office or sit down at your working desk. This is the same effect that being at your company office has on you. Just knowing you are at the place where you work will make it easier for you to focus on your tasks and assignments.
When it comes to picking your working space, you should choose a room, or a part of it, with enough natural light, no distractions, and a comfortable chair. In short, it should be an area where you will be able to spend your working hours productively and comfortably. Once you have set it up, make sure everything you do there is work-related, and avoid taking your work to other parts of your home, if possible.
Creating an office experience at home has another important benefit. Letting your brain know it’s time to stop working and relax at the end of the day is just as important as switching to work mode at the start of your working hours. Being able to physically leave your working environment (much like you would be leaving your office under normal circumstances) will help you psychologically detach yourself from work and let you focus on other aspects of your life.
We all need to rest from our job in order to maintain productivity levels in the long run, and it can be difficult to keep work from lingering in the back of your mind when your workplace is at home. If you don’t have a home office, turning off your pc (or at least closing all work-related tabs and windows) and setting yourself as unavailable for the rest of the day should be enough to allow you to shift your focus.
2. Make a Plan and Stick to Your Routine
Much like physically separating your workplace from the rest of your home, it’s also important to designate and plan your working hours. With nobody there to look over your shoulder, you need to be your own manager and make sure you complete your tasks for the day without extending your working hours, if possible.
Creating a simple list with realistic short-term and long-term goals is probably the easiest way to stay organized and motivated. With a clear overview of your daily to-dos, you will have a good sense of your progress, and checking off items one by one can be quite satisfying and motivating in itself.
While flexibility is one of the main advantages of working from home, making a plan and seeing it through will help you keep on top of your work and prevent you from feeling that you’ve been working the entire day. It all comes down to efficiency and focus. While it may be hard to achieve at first, adopting positive habits in this sense can go a long way in making the most of the hours spent at your computer.
A good place to start is your morning (or whatever time of day you start working) routine.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we all have some form of pre and post-work routines, which help us get started with our workday and unwind at the end of it. It can be something as simple as a cup of coffee in the morning, the ride to the office, or reading the newspaper. The thing they all have in common is that we use this time to mentally prepare ourselves for a productive day.
Adopting a similar routine you enjoy when working from home shouldn’t be too hard and it will allow you to ease into work and start your day with a positive attitude. The same goes for winding down once your work is done. Take the time to clear your mind and relax by listening to some music, taking a shower, or doing some exercise before getting back to your life at home.
Similarly to creating an office experience at home, these “buffer” activities before and after work will help you maintain a balance between your work and life outside of the office.
3. Share Your Schedule with Colleagues and Maintain Communication
Make sure you share your work schedule and availability with your team. This way, they will know when and how they can reach you, as well as when you would prefer not to be disturbed. It’s important to communicate openly with them in this regard and make sure you are on the same page.
If your working hours are identical, coordinating with them should be effortless. Otherwise, show some flexibility and work together to come up with a solution that will suit everyone. Again, open communication is crucial.
Whether working from home is a new experience for you or not, you are likely to run into problems you are not able to resolve yourself. Since you can’t just walk over to your manager’s or colleague’s office and take care of the issue on the spot, maintaining open communication channels with them is the only way to ensure smooth operation.
Apart from attending regular online meetings, don’t hesitate to contact your team members or supervisor when you need their input. Whether via phone calls, text messages, or video chat, communication is the only way to stay in the loop and up to date with developments within your company.
4. Don’t Let Yourself Get Distracted (Too Much)
If this is not your first remote job, you probably already know how small distractions can get in the way of finishing your work on schedule. While no office is 100% distraction-free, when working from home, everything you might rather be doing or thinking about is within an arm’s reach or closer, whether it’s a show you’ve been streaming or some unfinished chore.
Sure, getting distracted occasionally is inevitable, however, you should try to maintain some work discipline and make sure small distractions don’t turn into forgetting about your work. If you are easily distracted, try to keep your workspace (both physical and virtual) as tidy as possible and make sure you mute or turn off notifications on your personal phone.
On the other hand, if you notice your concentration has started dropping, maybe it is time to take a short break? Even if you don’t have one scheduled for the next hour or two, sometimes all it takes is a short walk away from the screen or a chat with someone to get you back in gear. Just make sure to use this time to relax instead of investing your energy in something else.
5. Eat Healthy Food and Get Some Exercise
Working from home means less physical activity of any type for most people. While it may not be a job requirement, taking care of your health and getting some exercise in a situation where you can literally spend the entire day without leaving your home should be something to look forward to.
You can incorporate short work-out sessions into your lunch breaks, or set aside an hour for exercise every day. If you can go for a run outside – great, but even if you can’t, you don’t need a gym to add some physical activity to your daily routine.
In fact, there are many at-home workout programs available online for free, as personal trainers tend to regularly share workout tips through social media and other channels. Find something that suits you and try your best to stick to your schedule.
Being able to eat whatever you want whenever you want is another perk of working from home, and you should take advantage of it by eating healthy. Stock up your fridge with vegetables and fruit, and make sure you have balanced meals throughout the day. After all, the kitchen is just a few steps away, and preparing something for yourself shouldn’t take too much time or effort, so leave junk food off your work-from-home menu.
Eating home-made food and getting exercise will benefit more than just your health. A proper intake of nutrients and physical activity will also have a positive effect on your concentration and energy levels, helping you stay productive and alert throughout the day.
The bottom line is that working from home has both pros and cons and can mean a lot of different things for different jobs and personalities. Hence, you will probably have to find out what works best for you from first-hand experience. In any case, with some organizational and time management skills, you should be able to make the most of the up-sides it offers.
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