Effectively working from home, whether by choice or by order, can be difficult to become acclimated to. Upon working from home for a little over a month now, I have realized that there are a lot of potential distractions; that can lead to a lack of focus and productivity.
I know that many others are navigating how to successfully work from home. I wanted to share a little of what I have learned and provide some suggestions for best practices that have worked well for myself and many others. So here are 8 tips for effectively working from home. I hope this encourages you to make the best out of each workday!
Have a dedicated work space
When I started working from home, I quickly realized I did not have an adequate space to actually perform a full day of work. I am fortunate to have a huge kitchen table, so my roommate and I took two opposite ends of the table and set up our makeshift desks. Although this is not preferred, we do not have a home office and would prefer to not work in our rooms.
Even though we are working at the table, we have laid out our stuff as if it was a desk. This even includes a little pencil holder from a random mason jar! By creating this space, we are able to sit down and work, and then leave work once the day is over. Having a designated work space helps to separate work from home. This can help you to feel like you are still maintaining balance at home, even if working from home is not preferred.
Since I started working from home, I ordered a couple products that have made my desk space more innovative. Here are two of my favorites:
- This desk organizer. The storage is perfect for a home workspace, and you are able to keep your laptop at eye level which helps with posture!
- This keyboard and mouse set. Working from a laptop has me missing my nice keyboard and mouse, so I bought one that works with my personal and work laptop. Truly a great investment in the long run!
Pretend you are going into the office
Although many might be excited to not have to shower or get fully ready for a day working from home, you absolutely should. One way I am able to stay focused is by having the mindset to pretend I am still physically going to work. Keeping your normal morning routine will help to trick your mind into being ready to have a productive day at work (even if at home).
Even though it may be nice to work in your pajamas all day, if you are used to wearing a business casual outfit, your pajamas may be too comfortable for you. I find that when I am too comfy, I am less productive. Also, who knows when you will need to look decent for an unexpected video call from the boss...better to be safe and get ready like usual.
Keep a schedule & to-do list
A favorite thing of mine to do as soon as I get into work is to make and review my to do list for the day. Continuing this process while working from home has helped me to continue to meet deadlines for projects and keep up with every task that needs to be done. By creating a list of important items on my agenda, I can then schedule out my day for maximum productivity.
Even if you are not used to writing out all of your to-do items, now might be a great time to build this habit! With all of the added distractions and disruptions working from home can bring, it can be especially important to have a reference point for the work needed to be done for the day. This also helps to keep me accountable if I talk with my boss about how I have been spending my time. By scheduling out my day and keeping a to-do list, I have avoided forgetfulness and lack of planning.
Eliminate social media
Now that you are sitting by yourself at home, it can be very tempting to hop on your phone or use your laptop to scroll through social media. This can waste hours of productivity! A phone can be one of the biggest distractions of effectively working from home. A good rule of thumb is, if you would NOT do it at work, then working from home should be no different.
My suggestion is to place your phone away from your reach and out of view. Out of sight, out of mind right? If you need your phone for work, just turn off any notifications for social media on your phone. You can check those during your lunch break or after work - I promise it can wait!
Communicate expectations to others at home
Many of us have other people we live with. When you begin working from home, another distraction can be the other people you are now around 24/7. I know many people who (hopefully) enjoy being able to be around those they live with more often or spending more time with kids or pets. Although this is great, it can also be a huge deterrent from working effectively at home.
Once my roommate and I started working from home, we had to sit down and talk about our expectations for each other. This was especially important since we would be working a few feet from each other. We were able to talk through how our work schedules usually go. We also communicated the importance of having time to ourselves and being able to focus without distracting each other.
If you and your spouse are both working from home with kids, it might also be important to discuss who will be ready when attention is needed elsewhere. Effectively working from home requires lots of communication, and it is way better to have these conversations sooner than later. This can save you from lots of potential issues down the road!
Stay out of the kitchen
Listen. I say this out of love...and my own personal experience. If you are not used to working from home, sitting a few feet away from tons of snacks can be dangerous. It might sound silly, but packing your lunch could be a great way to ease the temptation. My roommate and I have been planning meals and keeping each other accountable so that we do not eat way more than we need to.
You've heard of the freshman 15...well the quarantine 15 is real too, y'all. In a temporary season of working from home, it can be difficult to not get up and grab a snack every couple of minutes. This can not only disrupt productivity while working but really hurt your health in the long run. You definitely do not want to build unhealthy habits while working from home, so it might be best to stay out of that kitchen. Grab your morning coffee and one snack to eat later, then get to work!
Create the perfect playlist
One way I have been able to stay so focused when working from home has been by listening to music. I do this at work normally, but it has helped even more while working at home. Being able to put in my headphones and tune everything out has helped to eliminate some potential distractions.
I know not everyone works well with music on, but if you want to try it out, there are some great playlists you can find to test. I love using Spotify, and I have found some great instrumental playlists that work for any mood I am in. Block out all other noise and listen to the noise you want!
Take clear breaks
Working from home can become very routine, and therefore getting bored might be more likely. Or you might experience the opposite of this and working from home has become more stressful, and you are working harder than ever to keep up. No matter your scenario, it is important to take specific breaks throughout the day. This will help you to refresh your mind (and maybe attitude, if needed, too).
When normally at work, I like to get up once an hour and take a minute walk. This helps to keep my blood flowing and overall increases my focus throughout the day. This is something I can easily still do at home! When you go for your walk, just be sure to stay out of the kitchen...unless you are making a little healthy snack - like one of these! Taking breaks can help to space out your work, clear your head, and help your mental and emotional health.
I hope you enjoyed this post and were able to find an area or two you want to focus on while working from home. We can always be better (trust me, I am right there learning with you), and it just takes one step at a time.
Let me know in the comments below any other tips you have learned or experienced for effectively working from home. Thanks for reading!