The world has changed, and more and more of us will be exchanging the daily commute for working from home. Even those of us seeking new roles or on Furlough, we are still doing this from our home office, and in many cases it is like a full time job. This may be a novelty for some, and not suit others, but working from home will become a fact of life, and you need to find ways to make it work for you.
In this blog I will look to give you some handy tips to get the most out of home working, and make you the “home office ninja”, if such a thing exists.
1. Start Early: “Early???” I hear you scream. Surely I can lie in till 8.59am? In many ways the transition from duvet to PC can be more of an effort without that commute to get your body going, so be disciplined, start early and hit the ground running. Have a look at our blog on “Super Charging You Mornings” which will really help.
2. Make it more like work: What I mean is make it more regimented. Have your early morning coffee, have some form of office wear (i.e. no jim jams) and even, which is really neat, on Google Chrome you can have multiple tool bars etc, so you can create a work version.
3. Have structure: set to do lists, and schedule tasks. It is easy to get distracted and to procrastinate, so be clear on what you are trying to achieve when.
4. Create your home office: have a dedicated work space – try and avoid areas you associate with leisure time. I know for one it is far too easy to set up in front of the TV and watch, in my case, the cricket all day.
5. Don’t just stay at home: We all at times need stimulus, and that’s one thing the office environment brings you. So get up and out, use coffee shops, libraries etc. to get that buzz of other people. It also removes some of those home distractions, like doing the washing or grooming the cat.
6. Bin Social Media: make it harder to waste time on Tik Tok et al. Remove them from your browser, log out of accounts or even use a Google “incognito” window to remove these distractions. There is only ONE exception. Keep LinkedIn. It is a professional tool required for professional development.
7. Be productive when you are at your most productive: this sounds a bit obvious, but what I mean is that people naturally throughout the day have periods when they feel most productive. For me, that is the first thing, and this is when I will deal with more complex and involved tasks, and leave more admin based, or BAU tasks to those times when my energy begins to ebb.
8. Talk and chat in the afternoon. Wait till you are really awake and functioning to have those calls and meetings. Push them back to the afternoon when you are fully able to give your best. Use the morning to bash through some meaty tasks, and you will already feel like you have achieved something, and make those calls and meetings more productive.
9. Plan: very obvious, but key. Have a “To Do” list and a structured calendar. It keeps you focussed, and every time you put a tick in the complete box you have a sense of achievement. HOWEVER, do it the day before or you end up taking more time deciding what and when to do things, than actually doing them. Maybe outline your week, but be aware you need some flexibility, as the world changes.
10. Keep and stay connected: keep in touch with those around you with technology. Tools like Zoom and Microsoft teams, allow face to face contact, but use tools like Whats App to instant message and maintain a work community.
11. Music be the food of work: ok, I’ve adapted that a bit, but playlists are motivational and can keep you focused. Indeed, as in point 10, share playlists to create your work community. Work is not all about work it’s about relationships, and interactions.
12. Clean up your act: what do I mean? Simple, put on the washing, and use this as a timer for a task. Get something done on your to do list while the washing is on. It’s a natural timer, and then gives you a break, and you will have achieved something.
13. Set expectations: if you are not home alone set expectations with your co-habitants. Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you are home.
14. Set clear break times – obvious, enough said, but get away from your desk. Don’t use it for time to log in to social media at your PC, which will then be a distraction for the rest of the day. Get up, have a proper break.
15. Prepare meals in advance. Far too easy to spend loads of time making the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner, and before you know it you have lost chunks of the day. So meal prep.
16. Have a defined cut of point, end of day. Don’t just drag your day into the evening, you need to stop, you need down time, and you need to interact with other humans.
Working from home can be a positive and productive way to work, however you have to have some level of discipline to ensure you are productive and to keep yourself sane.