Have a Dedicated Work Space
You need your own space! Nothing will get done if you are not able to separate home and work life.
There is nothing that is more important to someone whose office is at home than setting the boundary for what is work and what is not. I personally have a closed door policy with my office at home. My family knows not to interrupt unless it is important.
Make Your Workspace Work for You!
Your office or work area should be somewhere you like to be. As you may have guessed... the above office pic is not a stock photo. This is part of my actual office at home. It has things I like in it and is setup for how I work best. There have been many versions of this office, and there will likely be a few more. Find out what works best for you.
Tip: Don`t let anyone else decorate or have total say in how your office is decorated or organized. This should be your space and it should be built custom to you.
Shower & Get Dressed!
Would you shower and get out of your pyjamas before leaving for work?
Treat your day the same way you would if you had to commute to the office. It will create a more professional feeling and you will be more productive. Also, you will be ready to leave your home office if you need.
Set a Schedule and Follow it
Business hours are important. When you work from home there will be unexpected interruptions but setting a schedule will help you avoid too many interruptions.
Having a set schedule will help your coworkers and friends & family know when is an appropriate time to contact you. Every interruption can set you back as much as 25 minutes of your business day.
Don’t be afraid to say things like “I work until 4 but we can meet after that”.
Be Flexible - Adjust Your Schedule Around Your Life
Tweak your schedule after you have been using it.
If you have office hours from 9am to 4pm, but you pick up your child at daycare at 3pm then your office hours should change. This could vary based on time of year or other schedule.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your hours if you have the flexibility. For example, in my previous role it was more productive for me to split my day. I would work from 9am until 3pm and then for a few hours after my family went to sleep. It worked for me and allowed me to get 2 extra hours worth of work done for the day.
Avoid Social Media, News and Other Time Suckers
Stay off social media and news sites during your work time unless it is work related. These sites can cause you to lose hours of productivity and more importantly they take away from your workflow. When you lose your train of thought it takes valuable time to get it back.
Avoid the time suckers!
Check in with Co-Workers Frequently
Check-in, consult or update co-workers / clients frequently. Doing this will give you a sense of being part of the process or the bigger picture. You will feel accountable and more productive.
Most importantly, people will know you are working hard and getting the job done. Do not be out of sight, and out of mind.
Embrace the Cloud or Productivity Suites
I use G-Suite by Google.
Why? Because it allows me to work from wherever I am and whichever device I choose. There are many productivity tools out there for you to choose from.
I live in a part of Canada which has very long winters. Being isolated in the office all winter is a bad idea… so I often work from coffee shops, food courts, or libraries. I will work anywhere that has other people. It isn’t always quiet but I save tasks that don’t require as much concentration for those times.
G-Suite allows me to access my emails and files wherever I decide to work that day. Very important!
Have Your Own Hotspot Ready
I use coffee shops etc to work very often. I however do not trust their WIFI. That is for both strength and security reasons but that is for a different article.
Most modern phone have the ability to turn into a hotspot. Have that ready to in case you don`t have a connection or you don`t trust the WIFI avaialble to you. It is a time saver and doesn`t use as much data as you might think, as long as you aren`t watching video or downloading huge files.
There have been times where my internet provider has been down for the afternoon and I was able to continue without skipping a beat because I had my personal hotspot setup on my iphone.
Learn how to setup a Personal Hotspot on iPhone or iPad (You will be transfered to Apple`s website in a new browserw window)
Take Planned Breaks
People who work in offices get breaks. So should you! Most governments mandate breaks for a reason.
Take time during the day to have a coffee and catch up on your social media and news that I told you to avoid above. Do whatever will recharge or reset you to continue your day.
Don’t Get Used to Snacking
Be careful of snacking while you work.
I am a person who gains weight very easily. Many work from home jobs are sedentary in nature. Making snacking part of your work routine can be dangerous for the waste-line and potentially your health. Snacks are best saved for break time.
Eat Away from Your Workspace
The TV character Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory sums this point up in the best way when asked why he doesn’t eat at his desk and he doesn’t work on the couch.
“That is my desk chair. That is where I work. I don`t eat in my desk chair and I don`t work in my spot. I work in my desk chair and eat in my spot.”
It seems like an extreme attitude, but after a while I personally figured out I achieved little to nothing productive when I worked on the couch. The couch is where I relax and watch TV and when I try to work from there… I get relaxed and turn on the TV. The boundary and break time needed to be set.
Set Rules for Outsiders
You can’t control all of the interruptions but you can control some. It is hard to choose when a package is to be delivered but you can control when you have visitors.
Often when you work from home many people confuse that with you being at home and available to visit. Set time to have a coffee or help someone with something for break times or after / before work. Your office is your home, but that doesn’t mean that people should interrupt your work day.
If you were at an office job, your friends or family would not be able to stop by and just chat or have a coffee whenever suits their schedule. This should be the rule for your home office also.