Remote work is becoming more and more popular these days. It has become especially important now that COVID-19 has taken over and many businesses have had to re-think how they operate. Working from home can be an awesome experience. I have done it for 10 years now and I can’t even imagine going back into a real office setting. The tips here are some general things I have learned over the years and seem to help me most, but you should definitely play around with what works for you the best. I hope these tips will help inspire you to make the most out of working from home!
Tip #1: Schedule
A schedule is, in my opinion, the most important part of working at home. You will want to have a pretty strict schedule at first so that you can get accustomed to the flow. The schedule should not only just include your work though, but it should also factor in time for breakfast, lunch, breaks, dinner, and even sleep.
When you go to a physical location for work then that part of your day is already scheduled out naturally for you, but it’s a different ballgame when working from home. You have to be the one responsible to keep on top of that and it can be quite difficult. Getting into a good habit will make it easier for you to keep the routine going. Having a schedule also helps keep everyone else at home aware of your working needs.
Tip #2: Boundaries
Having boundaries means that you know when to say yes and when to say no for things that could distract you from your work. You will likely be faced with many distractions and if working from home is something new to you then it is very easy to cave in to them, so it is important to have some boundaries to combat the desire to be distracted. If you have already created your schedule then you are able to use that to help you keep your boundaries since you have it planned out.
My advice is that you create your schedule and stick to it the best that you can. There may be times that you are having a slow day and it can be ok to have someone in your office talking with you while you work, but the point is that you need to be able to have the self-control to say “I’m sorry, but I am a bit busy right now. Can we talk about this later?”. Just make sure you do actually do the thing you promised later though!
Boundaries are not always about relationships with other people though. There are many other things that we need to make sure we keep our time separated for in order for us to be the most productive. For example, Netflix or video games could easily be an issue with boundaries as well.
Tip #3: Exercise
This may seem like a bit of an odd one at first. You might be thinking, “But I don’t exercise while I am working at a physical location, so this makes no sense.” Well, let me clear this up for you right now – I don’t mean exercise in the traditional sense of going and lifting weights or going to a gym. The point of this tip is that you get yourself moving. Careers that allow you to work from home are usually very computer-driven so it’s very likely you will be sitting in front of a computer for a long period of time. In an office setting, you have co-workers that might need your help or you may need to ask them something so you end up taking multiple little trips throughout the day to walk around the office. This is what you should do at home too – lots of small breaks and stretches.
A simple stretch for 10 minutes, doing 20 push-ups, or maybe 30 jumping jacks – how you do it is up to you, but the point is that you need to do something to keep active. My personal favorite is to take a walk mid-morning or after lunch for about 1 mile, it only takes about 15-20 minutes and it also gives me the opportunity to grab some fresh air and clear my mind.
Tip #4: Work/Home Separation
My final tip for you is one that can be pretty tough depending on the work you do or where your office setting is. It is being able to separate your work life from your home life while they are happening in the same place. I think we have a tendency when we work from home to become “always available” to our co-workers and clients. This can be good sometimes, but most of the time I would argue against it. You wouldn’t answer a company phone call at 9 pm at night when you are out of the office, and that is how it should be at home too. This reinforces your schedule and the boundaries you have already made.
The next part of this balance is to find a space that you can use as an office. Having a room or area that is meant for work can really help with separating it from your home life. It also helps to set those physical boundaries for you and possibly for others. If you have an office, then you know that when you are in there it is work time and when you are not then it is ok to finally allow those distractions.