So….how is working from home going for everyone?
Introverts around the world rejoiced with glee when many businesses around the world were told to close up shop; if you had a job that could be done remotely, now you were required to do so until further notice.
I was ecstatic!
I had been working from home on and off for a few years, and I knew that I was much happier working in the comfort of my apartment than I was going into an office.
What surprised me was that not everyone shared this opinion. Some people have a really hard time concentrating on their work and being productive when they are at home. This could be for a myriad of reasons: they have roommates or family at their homes; they don’t have a home office or even a desk to serve as a workspace; they are too distracted by re-runs of “Say Yes To The Dress” to concentrate on that project that is due by the end of the week.
There are many of us who just feel unmotivated to work from home. That, or they are having a difficult time learning how to work productively from home.
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with working from home. In fact, I find that I am easily more productive in my home office than in an office with my work colleagues. I have spent a lot of time setting up the optimal work environment that functions well for me. That’s why I’m going to lay out my six tips for working from home efficiently!
1. Start Your Day As Early As You Can
Many people in my age group were very excited to start working from home. Now that they don’t have to commute, they reasoned, they can sleep in until ten and then start working.
My teenage self would most certainly have agreed with them. My adult self felt differently.
I might be in the minority when I say this, but I am very much a morning person. That’s not to say that I have an easy time getting up in the mornings, but I find that mornings are simply the best time to be the most productive.
I start my day at 5:45 every morning and am usually working by 6:15 or 6:30.
Even my grandma doesn’t comprehend why I do this, and I thought that elders loved waking up at 3 AM! But, honestly, starting to work at 6:30 isn’t even that early. I know plenty of people who boot up their laptops at 5:00 or 5:30!
The world is quieter in the morning. There isn’t as much going on that would distract us from our work because no one else is awake! This is doubly important if you have kids (I do not). I have a friend who lets her kids stay up later than they normally would so that they sleep in longer and she can get all of her work done before they wake up. That’s good strategy!
2. Have a Morning Routine
When I first started working from home part-time a few years ago, I made the mistake of waking up and logging into my work laptop from my bed. Only a minute after my alarm had gone off! I was still rousing myself from dreaming about sliding down a rainbow like a waterslide, and now I was going to attempt to craft an email to my boss?
Don’t do this!
You never did this when you were commuting to the office every day, and you shouldn’t do it just because you work in the same place you sleep now! The best practice is to maintain the morning routine you have always had. Take a shower, get some breakfast, walk the dog, and make sure that you change out of your pajamas and into daytime clothing. This doesn’t need to be business casual either! Just make sure you are wearing something clean so that you feel fresh and ready to take on the day!
3. Create a Space Dedicated to Work
This is something that could prove a bit challenging depending on your living situation.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have a home office, it is critical to curate a space that encourages productivity. As an example, it’s probably not a great idea to decorate your office with 80s hair metal memorabilia unless you know that these things won’t distract you from your work. This also means that you should not be working from your bed or your couch! Sit at a table or a desk!
For some, having their own office in their home is just not a possibility. To those people, I say that they should pick a spot within their home that is dedicated solely to work. One of the more difficult aspects of working from home is constantly being reminded of work even after hours. It can be hard to separate life from work when your home is your office!
I have a difficult time concentrating on my work in a busy room. Because of this, I don’t have much art in my office and definitely no exercise equipment or televisions! Instead, I decorate primarily with textiles such as cushy pillows and soft blankets. I find that house plants also add to the atmosphere, making my office feel warm and comforting which is the exact vibe that allows me to be productive.
Another thing to try if you don’t have an office is to store all of your work items at the end of the day. When I power down my laptop at the end of the day, I pack it up in a bag so that it is HIDDEN. That way, I can transition from “professional” to “personal” easily because there are no remnants of my workday left out in the open.
If you need some styling tips in order to truly transform your space into a place you are eager to go back to each morning, I rounded up some of my favorite decor and furniture pieces that will elevate your home office!
4. Listen to Ambient Music
I mentioned this before, but I LOVE playing ambient music in the background when I am doing pretty much anything. Not only is this the best way to relax your mind, but it is also a fantastic way to keep you productive. I personally don’t like to listen to podcasts, audio books, or music with lyrics while I work. I find all of this to be too distracting, and they pull me away from doing my job.
A few years ago, I was told that the best music to listen to while working was actually video game soundtracks. Why? Because those songs are composed with the intention of playing in the background while you are playing the game; they are meant to be minimally distracting while absorbing you in your task.
5. Get Outside
We should all be trying to get out of our homes at least once a day for some fresh air and sunshine; this is even more important when you are working from home! Without coworkers leaving for lunch or other signals that time has passed, it is so easy to spend hours sitting at your desk. I always make sure to use my lunch hour to go for a run or a walk. It’s a great way to clear your mind from your morning tasks and prep yourself to finish out the day strong!
In addition to this, I find that trying to incorporate movement into my day really keeps my mind fresh. If I have to get on a call, I take that call standing up, making sure to move around and stretch. It’s such a nice way to mix things up when you spend a lot of time sitting!
Lastly, sometimes we just need a break from work even if we can’t go on vacation. Remember to take plenty of days off even while working from home full-time. We all need breaks from work; whether that is a break in the middle of the day or a break in the middle of the week! Achieving work-life balance when your home and office are in the same place can be tricky, so you must take care to take some time for yourself when you really need it!
6. Make a Schedule and Keep to It
I confess that I am a chronic schedule-maker. I love starting my day by making a list of things that I need to do, and I really love crossing each of those things off throughout the day.
This is the real key to being productive while you are working from home.
The luxury of working outside of a traditional office setting is that you have the ability to tackle your work day at your own pace. If you want to take a break and drink some coffee in your garden, you can absolutely do that. If you want to go for a run in the morning, you can do that too!
However, sometimes you insert too many of those “break time” activities into your day, and you land at 5 PM thinking, “Did I even accomplish anything today?” That’s why making a schedule and sticking to it is so important!
This is doubly important for anyone with kids at home. Balancing work and trying to home school your kids or entertain them on their summer breaks makes optimal productivity seem like a lofty goal which is why it is critical to map out your day. And make sure to keep your schedule realistic! If you know exactly what you need to do that day, you are so much more likely to meet all of those goals!
Working for home has certainly been an adjustment for some people, but it can also be a great opportunity to prioritze work-life balance and integrate wellness techniques into your day.
I find that there are so many benefits to working from home. It has been critical for creating work-life balance, and having that trust from my boss to maintain productivity while at home means so much to me! I am confident that with these six work from home tips, you all will be able to work from anywhere!
What are some of your strategies for a productive work day? Are you enjoying working from home, or has it been a challenge adjusting to a new work environment? Let me know!