Working from home can be amazingly liberating and give you so much personal freedom. There’s no doubt about it. The perks include having no commute, getting to work in your pajamas, and hanging out more with your dog.
But it also comes with some real challenges.
Because there’s no structure, it’s easy to get distracted, lose focus, and work too little. It’s just as easy to do the opposite and work too hard and get burned out. The key is finding a balance between these two extremes. Here are ten tips to make it easier to work from home effectively.
Tip 1. Develop A Morning Routine.
Your brain relies on patterns of behavior that help it ‘fast-track’ through daily tasks without having to think about every single thing you do consciously. That’s why it’s essential to establish a morning ‘pattern’ or routine that helps your brain get into ‘work mode.’
Aim to wake up at the same time every day and do the same activities such as showering, brushing your teeth, having coffee, and getting dressed.
This creates a morning ‘ritual’ that helps your mind focus on the work ahead. Having consistent rituals brings about incredible harmony and structure to your day – you will thank yourself later!
Tip 2. Dress In Professional Attire
Working in sweats or pajamas all day sounds fun, but it can make you feel sluggish and make you more likely to procrastinate.
Getting dressed in professional attire is an essential behavior that helps you prepare psychologically for a proper workday.
Even if you’re working from home full time, it’s still a good idea to look professional – you never know when you might have to jump on a Zoom call with your employer or a client.
Tip 3. Create A Dedicated Workspace
Working from your bed or couch can seem attractive, but it’ll sap your productivity and – in the long term – play havoc with your back. That’s why you should create a dedicated workspace.
You don’t have to spend a fortune and create an entire home office, but you should have an allocated desk and chair to work from. Consistently working in the same place helps form another powerful pattern of behavior that signals to your brain it’s time to work.
Tip 4. Develop A Workflow Strategy
Working from home can be more challenging than working at an office, as you don’t have set working hours. This is especially true if you’re a freelancer and have an irregular flow of work.
That’s why it’s essential to develop a strategy that helps you deal with work as it comes in. David Allen’s Getting Things Done strategy is a good example. When something new comes in, you simply decide whether to do it or delegate, defer, or drop it.
This simple strategy will help you work more effectively from home. You can use it to prioritize the order in which you complete tasks and maybe even clear your inbox and achieve ‘inbox zero.’
Tip 5. Kill Digital Distractions
Digital distractions will kill your ability to work effectively, so it’s crucial to kill them before your productivity dives! Things like phone notifications and browser popups will sap your willpower, but fortunately, there are many free ways to keep them in check.
There are many free productivity apps for both iOS and Android that will track your progress, block notifications, and keep you on task. There are also many solutions for both Windows and Mac that help block everything except the work at hand.
Tip 6. Divide Your Day Into ‘Chunks’ Of Time
One of the downsides of working from home is that your workload may not fit neatly into a regular 9 to 5 schedule. This makes it more challenging to keep a healthy work-life balance. One of the best solutions is to use a strategy called ‘chunking,’ popularized by some of the world’s most productive people, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
Simply plan out your day into ‘chunks’ of time, with each chunk lasting 40-50 minutes and followed by a ten-minute break.
Then assign a work task to each chunk.
For example, you might use one chunk for reading and responding to emails, another chunk for working on reports, and so on. This strategy prevents you from overworking and ensures that you get regular breaks, helping you work far more efficiently.
Tip 7. Be Your Own Cleaner
Working in a messy, dirty environment will have a significant impact on your effectiveness. It makes it more likely that you’ll get distracted, get sick, or even lose important documents.
The solution is to be your own cleaner. Invest in some cleaning supplies and use some of the 10 minutes breaks after each ‘chunk’ of work to have a quick tidy.
Wipe down your desk, keyboard, and mouse with an antibacterial wipe, sweep and mop the floor, and declutter your desk. This is great for your health; it kills any nasty germs and gets you up and moving, helping to give your body a break from sitting down.
Tip 8. Quit At Quitting Time
If you’re new to working from home, it’s common to feel ‘guilty’ about being at home and fall into the trap of trying to work longer or harder just to ‘prove’ that you’re working hard.
This will lower your productivity and leave you feeling run down and possibly even burned out. The best solution is to set a quitting time and abide by it.
Even if you’re midway through a project, just stop and come back to it the next day.
Tip 9. Make Time To Socialize And Collaborate
Working from home makes it more challenging to socialize and collaborate with your colleagues and other professionals, but it can still be done.
Block out a chunk of time every week and get together with others, whether it’s a Google Meets chat or having some Zoom cocktails.
Tip 10. Get Out Of The House
Whenever possible, try to get out of the house and do some work in a different location. You could take a socially distanced walk in the park, go through your work emails on your phone, or rent a small private office to work on something more serious.
The change of scene will do you good and help you work more effectively. With many co-working companies offering low daily rates on private office spaces, it’s good to throw this option into the mix from time to time.
Following these tips can help you work from home more effectively and send your productivity through the roof.
Whether you’re looking to get more done, block out distractions, or organize your time, these tips are all you need.
Start by implementing these handy tips today, and soon they will be just another part of your daily and weekly routine.
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