Your phone buzzes…you think, you only need a minute to check out that Facebook notification. Without even realizing it, you get sucked into social media for the next half an hour. When you work from home, it’s all too easy to fall down a digital rabbit hole. Your computer can access any gaming, social media, or entertainment site you so choose. Your television has daytime shows you can’t typically watch while you’re at work. These can all be distracting when you’re working from home.
More and more small businesses are calling for remote workers and becoming home-based. While that may be a dream for some, switching from a structured office to the comfort of your own home can be challenging. Learning how to work from home is vital if you want to be an efficient and productive business owner or employee. Don’t fall down a digital rabbit hole, let’s move you forward with these 14 effective working from home tips.
1. Create Your Schedule
Before you even start working, make sure you know what your priorities are for the day, how long you think it will take you to get everything done, and what you will work on if you have extra time. You might find it helpful to take a few minutes before you go to bed to plan for the next day. You may find that you sleep better without the stress of planning in the back of your mind. Have a list of tasks you want to complete each day. Then, make time to complete each task with the highest priority tasks first. Make sure to include breaks so you can be sure your schedule is tangible. Keep in mind to schedule your day to reflect your energy. Knock out essential tasks when your energy is high and take care of less important tasks when you are less motivated. At the end of the day, review your list and see what you need to carry over to the next day.
2. Take a Break Every Few Hours
If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably guilty of working straight through lunch most days. But if you followed the last step, then you’ll have already planned breaks for yourself throughout the day. Make sure you get up from your desk during those breaks—get some fresh air, grab a healthy snack, and talk with another human being if at all possible. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block, getting out of the house for a few minutes can make a world of difference. All of these activities will help you reset, get your blood flowing, and make sure you’re ready to tackle the next chunk of tasks.
3. Schedule a Time to Look at Your Email
Letting your email inbox become a never-ending to-do list can be easy. You might feel like you need to check your email every time a new message comes in, but this can quickly be distracting. Instead, schedule a specific time to check and respond to your emails daily. This will help you stay focused on your work and prevent your inbox from taking over your schedule.
4. Take time to establish a good morning routine
Make your bed as soon as you get out of it so you can start the day feeling accomplished and put together. Take a shower to wake up and feel refreshed for the day ahead. Get dressed for the day even if you’re not leaving the house to feel more professional and ready to work. Eat a healthy breakfast to give you energy and focus for the day ahead. Set aside time for exercise to reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase your energy levels.
5. Commit to a Workspace
You need to find a spot in your house where your focus is at a peak. When you find that spot, establish your workspace and reduce distractions as much as possible. Try to always work from a consistent room, desk, or chair to tell your brain that it’s time for work, not relaxation. You are likely to feel more alert, more confident, and more organized if you work from a home office. Set yourself up with a comfy, supportive chair, a spacious desk, good Wi-Fi, and consistent workplace tools.
6. Overcome distractions
You cannot discover your focus zone if you don’t highlight your biggest distractors. All sorts of distractions like digital devices, children , pets or household chores, can make it hard to stay productive when you work from home. De-clutter your desk and office. Leave only items that are relevant. Hang a ‘Do not disturb!’ sign when you are working on tasks that require optimal focus. Close all browsers and applications that are not relevant to the tasks at hand. Put your phone on airplane mode and reply to that email later.
7. Keep Regular Work Hours
Setting yourself regular hours keeps you accountable to yourself and to your boss. It makes you more likely to get all your work done, and it makes it easier for people to get in touch with you.
8. Separate Work Time and Personal Time
Just as it’s important to work when you say you will, it’s important to give yourself time for home life when you need it. Don’t extend the work day too far beyond what you planned, at the risk of burning out. Keep your work life and personal life compartmentalized as it helps you stay productive while you’re at work, and it reduces stress when you aren’t. Just the same way that you set your work hours, schedule, communicate, and plan when you will not be available to work. Let’s say you like to spend your evenings with family, make sure you communicate that you won’t be checking emails after a certain time. And then hold yourself to that commitment! Adopt an end-of-day routine that helps you to transition from work to relaxation. Try to set a timer for the last hour of work and use that time to wrap up any loose ends. Once the timer goes off, stop working, then do something, like stretch or have a cup of tea, to signal to your brain that the workday is over and it’s time to relax.
9. Establish Boundaries
It is your responsibility to train your family and friends on how to handle your work time. You need to tell them you are not available for the long lunch or the movie break. With your boss or business partner set ground rules so that they know when you’re working and when you’re not. First, agree on what hours you’ll be working to ensure that you’re getting your work done in a timely manner. Second, agree on how often you’ll be available for communication to prevent interruption and help you stay focused on your work. Finally, agree on what tasks can be completed at home and what tasks need to be done in the office to keep your work life and home life separate.
10. Do More & Impress Your Boss or Business Partner
Send regular updates on your progress and ensure your boss or partner is always in the loop. Always respond to emails and phone calls during work hours. Take on extra assignments and put in extra effort to show that you’re still dedicated to your job or company, even if you’re not physically present in the office.
11. Set a Timer on Social Media
Working from home can make it difficult to resist the temptation of social media. Many of us get caught up in scrolling our feeds and lose track of time. Setting a timer is a good tip for staying focused and avoiding social media distractions. For example, you might give yourself 15 minutes to check your favorite sites at the start of the day and then set the timer for another 15 minutes later in the afternoon. That way, you can stay connected without letting social media take over your workday.Plus, once the timer goes off, you’ll be satisfied knowing that you stuck to your plan and focused on your work.
12. Keep a Clean Space
Unlike in the office, you don’t have a janitor to clean up after you, which means you have to do it yourself. Keeping your home office clean helps you stay focused, get organized, and be productive. Even if you’re someone who isn’t bothered by a messy desk, keeping some order helps ensure that nothing important falls through the cracks or gets lost in a stack of paper. Working in a cluttered space can make it harder to focus and stay on task. You may even find yourself procrastinating on work tasks in favor of cleaning. Setting yourself a weekly cleaning schedule can help you keep on top of cleaning your home, so you won’t be tempted to clean during work hours.
13. Stay connected with your team
Try to check in with your employees or coworkers at least a couple of times per week, whether by email, phone, video call, social media, or even in person. Make sure you keep up on a personal level, as well as a professional level. You can do this without taking a lot of time—just share the things that are most important, and encourage your employees or coworkers to do the same. Seeing and hearing your team or colleagues can help to make working from home feel less isolating, as well as improve communication amongst team members. And if you need to collaborate on a project, video conferencing makes it easy to do so. You can share your screen, exchange files, and even use brainstorming tools like whiteboards.
14. Learn In Your Downtime
When you’re not tied to a specific office or a 9-5 schedule, you can use your downtime to learn new things that can help you in your work. For example, you can take an online course to improve your skills in a specific area or read books and articles about subjects that interest you. Learning in your downtime can help make you more well-rounded and knowledgeable and ultimately make you more productive and successful in your work.
Here at Nightfall Bookkeeping we know shifting your work environment to your home is challenging, but with a few simple changes to your routine and space, we believe you’ll find you can still have a productive work day. Find what works for you or your business by trying out some of the working from home tips above.