Whether you’re new to working from home or you’ve been in the routine of it for a while, here are 3 helpful areas to consider to make sure your experience is productive and enjoyable while still feeling connected and not in isolation.
There are many benefits to working from home: you save on gas, you have more control of your environment, and you can blast your music as loud as you want.
But there are many pitfalls too. You lose a sense of structure. It’s easier to feel disconnected from your team. It’s harder to know where “home you” and “work you” begin and end.
If you can control these 3 areas while working from home, you will be much happier in the long-run and be able to maintain a work/life balance that you actually love.
Where you spend the bulk of your time while working affects the quality of your work. If you’re used to going into the office, you have a designated space that your brain associates with “work time.” Once you sit down, it’s easier to transition and get into your flow.
You need to designate a “work space” in your home. Working from bed on one day and working on the couch on another day just makes it harder to feel like you’re at work.
Look around your space and decide the one location where you will do work-related tasks.
Make sure to take into consideration what you will visually see from all angles. Maybe choose a seat in the house that allows you to look outside the window. Are you in a chair that’s comfortable so you won’t be in pain by the end of the day? Does it allow you to have all the supplies you need at the ready? Water. Pens. Electrical outlets.
This is the #1 factor in whether you will be successful or not. Be sure to be thoughtful and make adjustments as needed if it just doesn’t end up working.
Start / End of Work Day Routine
If you’re used to working in an office, there are many routines that you probably aren’t aware that you participate in. The things we do on a daily basis contribute greatly to our overall well-being.
If you find yourself feeling frustrated or like something is missing as you try to work at home, creating a start and end of workday routine is crucial. It helps you bookmark your day so you know when work begins and when it’s over. When you spend most of your time within the same four walls, having definite mental markers helps to keep it all separate.
Here’s a sample “Start and End of the Workday” routine for someone going into the office. Look to see what’s familiar to your own working in an office experience. Those are the areas that you will need to find a substitution for at home.
- Wake up
- Shower and get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- Go outside to get into your vehicle
- Drive to the office while listening to a podcast or audiobook
- Park your vehicle and walk to your office
- Chitchat with your co-workers
- Sit down at your desk and power up your computer
- Start work at an official time
- Take a break to go to the bathroom or get a snack
- Chitchat with your co-workers
- Eat lunch
- Take a break to go to the bathroom or take a walk outside
- End work at an official time
- Walk outside to your vehicle
- Drive home
- Enter your home and transition to being off
If you’ve already made the switch to working from home, how many of those steps have you been missing that you’re used to? I bet a lot. Many times people stop taking a shower or getting dressed for work. They stop going outside. They aren’t walking back and forth as much so their legs aren’t getting the exercise they are used to. It all adds up and can leave you feeling suffocated and trapped.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You just have to be mindful about what you actually need and create a plan to achieve it.
Decide what your core working hours are going to be so you have an official start and end time. Decide when you will go outside because that’s an important part of your previous routine. Make a plan to communicate with your co-workers. Decide how you will know when the workday is officially done. Does that mean shutting down your laptop for an hour to give your eyes a break? Does it mean taking a shower or exercising?
If you do nothing else, deciding what you will do IMMEDIATELY after the workday is finished is the most important factor to successfully working from home. Your home needs to feel like home too so make sure you create a separation.
Even if you work for yourself, you’re a social creature. We do not work in isolation. Customers will communicate with you. Co-workers will communicate with you. You need to make a plan for how you will communicate with others during your workday.
When you aren’t able to see each other, the tendency to send messages actually increases. It takes more time to communicate your ideas clearly because things can get lost in translation with a text message or email.
If you don’t have a way of communicating for work that’s different than communicating when you’re off-work, that needs to be one of the first things you decide. Create a separate communication channel like Slack or Flock so that all work messages go there instead of to your personal phone.
Take your work email address off of your personal phone. When you’re working, you’re more likely to be on your computer which means that you’ll see the messages during your normal work hours. When you’re off of work and enjoying your time, you don’t want to receive messages that you won’t actually respond to right then. It’s just double-reading and doesn’t actually help.
Get comfortable talking on the phone or being on a video chat. The sound of a voice or seeing someone’s face helps to remind everyone that there are real humans on the other side and it creates the feeling of togetherness that you just can’t recreate with text alone.
Finally, set up “Do Not Disturb” hours and make sure that others are aware. There will be times during the day that you need to focus and do deep work. A random message can disturb your flow so make it easier on everyone by putting your communication channel on “Do Not Disturb” or letting people know ahead of time when you’re unavailable. It will help everyone communicate more effectively and make sure you have the time you need for your top tasks.
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As you can see, working from home comes with its own set of challenges but if you consider these factors and make a plan for them you will be able to set yourself up for success. The goal is to make sure that you are able to do your work in the conditions that are best for you. That way everyone wins!
Is there a factor we haven’t considered? Leave us a comment and let us know.