How to Survive and Thrive Working From Home
I've had a home-based business for over two years now, and people frequently tell me "I could never work from home." Since many businesses are offering (or requiring) people to work from home with the current social distancing we are practicing, I wanted to share my tips and tricks to help everyone out.
1. Just take 30 minutes and clean up
Clean up your house - seriously, get it over with, even if it takes time away from work. Once you're done it can't distract you anymore and you will be more productive. Throw in that load of laundry. Put dishes away. Sweep the floor. Remove those distractions, then call it good enough.
2. Pick a start and end time
Add some structure to your work day. Have a set time you will be at your desk to get to work. Plan in breaks and pick an end time. The hustle to just keep working when working from home is real. Put some boundaries in place to protect your work/life balance. This will help you be more productive when you are "on the clock."
3. Pick a location in your home that has sunlight
It's hard enough to stay motivated when working alone, so pick a location that is bright and energetic. Have some house plants? Bring those into your space. Create your own oasis (as much as possible - especially if you are not the only one in your house).
4. Figure out your most productive times of the day and protect them
There is flexibility when working from home, but that freedom can also be a little too freeing. I know that I am most productive before 11, so I try to schedule meetings and calls that break my focus after that time. If you aren't sure what part of the day you are most productive check out Daniel Pink's book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.
5. Make a list at the beginning of each day
Create a list before you start working (*bonus points if you do it the night before) of everything that HAS to get done for the day. Take it a step further and number what order you are going to complete things starting with the task that is either the highest priority or that you are dreading the most.
6. Go with the flow
Distractions will happen. You'll go get a drink of water and suddenly find yourself wiping off the counters from last night's dinner. Emails will roll in that will shift and add to your to-do list. The dog will need to be let outside. A UPS driver will drop something off. Be ready to pivot, and do the best you can. Take 10 minutes to do a mini workout, or walk around when you feel your mind drifting, then get back at it.
Figure out what works for you. I know some people who get up and dressed as if they were going into an office. I find I can work just as efficiently in sweatpants and a hoodie. Make the choices that work for you.
There are times when I feel like I'm not being productive enough. There are times when I just stop working and get in my workout for the day because I'm stuck on project. Sometimes I choose to work at night because there aren't emails and phone calls coming in.
Working from home can be perfectly manageable once you figure out the routine that works best for you. I love the ability to be able to help out friends and family when emergencies or special situations come up, but I also struggle with guilt whenever I allow myself to be off the clock when I "should" be working. It's all about balance and boundaries.
*Bonus content for those with kiddos*
Are you also a stay at home parent (or a temporary one because many schools are closed)?
First off, you've got this. Second, reference #6 and change all the examples to your children. Your kids are fighting, they want a snack, they are bored, they want another snack, they've got a million questions - can I do this, can I do that, can I have this, can I have that?
Recognize that more distractions are going to happen, and do the best you can. This may mean some work needs to get done after they've gone to bed, or before they get up. Try to bring structure and routine into your days. In the chaos be grateful that you get to spend time together - even when things get hectic. Try to see this as an opportunity to help them become the people you imagine they can be. Also, it's ok to ask for help, really, it is.