As I’m writing this its fall 2020 one of the most extraordinary years since the end second world war. This is because of a horrible little virus called covid 19, which has caused a worldwide pandemic.
Depending on where you live you may have been told to stay at home and work to prevent the spread of Covid. If this is the first time you have worked from home then it may be a bit of a culture shock!!!
This guide also offers advice to self-employed people who may have been working from home for many years. They find themselves procrastinating or spending too much time working on the business and allowed personal life to suffer.
There’s no denying that working from home offers many advantages. In many ways it’s the ultimate freedom; you get to set your own hours, working when, where, and how you want.
However, there are also a number of potential pitfalls you need to be aware of and watch out for, or you’ll risk turning your home-based job into an unproductive nightmare.
Here are some easy actionable tips you can follow to make your time at home productive. Offering easy ideas to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed or distracted.
✅ Organize a Practical Working Space for Your Office
You may be lucky and already own a seperate office area. Often a spare bedroom or part of guest bedroom can be made over into an office space.
Those without space for a dedicated office might need to use the kitchen table. A nuisance to keep moving your stuff every time it comes to mael times.
The thing to avoid at all costs is working in a bed or sofa. This is very bad for your back and posture. Also, it will blur the boundaries between work and personal life.
The very bare minimum you need for any functional office space is a table and comfortable chair, with enough space for your laptop and paperwork. Hopefully, you have a dining table that will work for you.
✅ Separate Your Business and Home
This is one of the most common issues for people who work from home, especially those who are self-employed.
When the home office is “right there”, it can be hard to stay away even if you should really be off work for the day.
Before you know it, you’ll have spent another few hours of your precious weekend on work.
This is a quick and easy way burning yourself out and becoming either exhausted or ill. Something you must learn to avoid if you want to be successful working from home.
Some people feel guilty taking time off, if that is you be very strict about the time you take off. Plan this and even if you do nothing don’t go back to work, or check your e-mails, etc.
Boundaries need to be set and you will find that you will eventually take pleasure in leisure time.
✅ Failing to Plan Your Work
This mostly applies to people who are self-employed and may not have a boss telling them what to do every day.
When you’re working on your own projects, planning is an absolute must. If the first thing you ask yourself when you start your day is “Ok, what am I going to do today?”, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
It’s much better to plan out the next day before you go off work in the evening, so you’re ready to get started first thing in the morning.
I found one of the best books about planning and time management is Deep Work by Cal Newport. I found the information in this book invaluable, particularly when it comes to avoiding social media and other time sucks that provide little value to your life or business.
✅ Working at Irregular Hours
When working from home you can often set your own hours, you really need to become your own boss and come up with a strict working hours schedule.
If you take the attitude that there is plenty of time I will work when I want. It is guaranteed that in a few months just won’t feel like working at all. This is especially true if there are many fun distractions around the house.
That’s why it’s better to try to stick to working the same hours every day, even if it might resemble a “real job” a bit too much for your liking.
You can always take breaks during the day if you need to recharge, but try to at least go into your office around the same time if you want productivity levels to stay high.
✅ Make Sure You Leave the House Every Day
When you work from home there is usually very little motivation to go outside. You’ve got everything you need at home anyway, right?
That’s true, but after a whole week you’ll most likely be feeling isolated and lonely, and that’s perfectly normal.
That’s why it’s so important to make time for little things like grabbing lunch with a friend – something as simple as that can really boost your energy and make your working week easier and less lonely.
At the same time why not incorporate some exercise like a brisk walk or light jog. Or have a short sun bath in the park to boost your vitamin D levels.
Ideas to help you get out of the house include
- Take time out to go for a walk, take the dog if you have one.
- Drive to a local beauty spot and walk from there
- If you live near the sea go for a walk on the beach
- Take to kids to the park
- Meet a friend for a coffee
- Work hard in the garden for yard or an hour
- Walk to collect the kids from school
✅ Arrange Care for Young Children
One of the problems with working form home is it assumed you can carry on working or running a bussiness while looking after small children. This is not going to happen without a great deal of organizing and planning on your part.
If you have young children in the home, you will know that is almost impossible to work productivity with them around.
If your children are going to be around, you need to come up with a method of finding time to work when the kids are asleep. Either by working early in the mornings or later into the evening after bedtime. You might squeeze in extra work during nap times.
The ideal situation is to have childcare arranged. Carly, a stay at home Mom, has actually done this you can read all about it at Mommy on Purpose.
If paid childcare too expensive for your then consider asking friends or family to mind the kids for a while. With friends, you could offer a reciprocal arrangement, so both of your benefit from getting time off without the kids around.
✅ Put on Your Work Clothes
Nothing will make you feel more professional and inclined to start work than dressing up in a similar way that you would when going out to an office.
Dressing in office clothes gives you an important physiological boost that will set boundaries and prevent procrastination.
The thing to avoid at all costs is working in your bedclothes and dressing gown. What happens is you will find yourself in pajamas all day long? That’s just not right, is it!!!
✅ Make Sure You are Not Disturbed!
It’s a funny thing when you work from home it seems that people think it’s ok to just disturb you whenever they like.
You’re at home right, so not really working!!
Just one neighbor popping in unannounced for a chat is enough to throw off an entire day’s schedule of work. While socializing is an important part of your life, you need to place boundaries during your work time.
The family you live with can also feel you can be disturbed at any time. Explain calmly but firmly that you are working to help the family. Being disturbed constantly unless an emergency will stop this from happening.
My advice is to be firm from the first moment and they will get the hint. Close the door if you have a separate room to work in.
I hope these tips have helped you to become organized and productive while working at home.
Whether is your full time paid job that has asked you to work from home or you are self-employed following these tips will help to make working from home a pleasurable experience.
I run an online publishing business that I am trying to build up. I understand the challenges people face when working for yourself at home. I know all the traps and pitfalls.
I hate to admit it but I have actually played Candy Crush all day instead of work. Going out with friends on all day shopping trips at the drop of a hat.
I’m a terrible procrastinator, but I have set myself 10 goals to complete every day, and I’m determined to complete them all.
I use a planner with a list of all the daily goals to complete. For example, write 1,000 words and make 10 pins for Pinterest.
I also include personal daily goals like practice the ukulele, produce a piece of zentangle art, and tidy part of the home. Ticking these items off has become almost like an addiction.
My productivity and sense of organization have increased since I started this method.
Here is a sample of my daily planner in action. Note: I don’t care about scribbling things out and making a mess.
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