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I’ve been working from home for more than fifteen years so have some practical tips to help you get going and find your mojo for tip-top productivity.
Update: I’ve been asked to help people get used to the “new reality” of working from home. Watch the video to find out how this could help you.
Start the day right
You wouldn’t turn up to the office in your pyjamas and 30 minutes late without brushing your teeth. Don’t do it when working from home either. Your commute might be gloriously shorter, but make sure you still consider it a commute to work.
Get yourself ready as normal, know what time you need to leave home to “get to the office” and don’t be late.
On a good day my commute is about 15 seconds, but my days always start at a regular time, and I try not to be late.
Of course, if I forget something at home, it’s not to far to run back to pick it up 🙂
Set and keep to a schedule
So we’ve covered your morning start, but the rest of the day is also important. Set a “typical” schedule for yourself, start time, breaks, lunch and end time.
Of course, the work you do, and the people you work with will dictate some variations to this too, so a good thing to schedule in to the beginning of your morning routine is a review of your day. How does you typical schedule need to adjust to fit in what you need to do today?
Personally, I find myself more creative in the mornings, so I tend to write blogs, solve problems or schedule difficult things for the morning.
Don’t forget your breaks!
Just because you are working from home, you don’t have to work twice as long. Breaks keep you healthy and productive, so they are just as important, and in fact, I think they are more important because some of the things you take for granted in an office, take more effort when working from home (see below).
Find your space
If your house is as busy as mine, it can be difficult to find the same place to set yourself up every day. With kids, it’s even harder. But it is so important to get this right.
You need a place that feels like work. How you feel about a place really impacts how you feel about what you do there, and how productive you are.
Find a space that you can call your “work zone”, and make that place a dedicated wok-only area. Whether it is a separate room, a desk or table, or even a place on a table. Make sure the things in that space are work things, and when you are in that space you are not distracted by non-work things.
This mental separation really can help avoid distraction, improve productivity and also your own satisfaction and happiness.
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Leave your space
Now you’ve found your perfect work place, leave it. Get up, walk around, but make sure you go out and get a break from the surroundings.
A change in environment can be a great boost for both happiness and creativity. You don’t have to go far, a cafe, a park bench, a walk in the street or hot-desk at a friend or colleagues house. Create these breaks in your routine to make sure you keep active and get the opportunity to have some other human contact, as the next point talks about.
Don’t be a hermit
I’ve had weeks where I’ve not left the house for five days. These are hard weeks and they’ve impacted not just my productivity, but my mental and physical health, too. So my advice is make sure you make time to get out to see people several times a week. Again, even if it is a coffee shop or networking with other home workers. (You can find a number of LinkedIn and Facebook groups to help you find these like-minded people)
Don’t skip meetings, over-communicate
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is never truer than with a remote worker. Make sure you communicate with your team, colleagues, managers frequently and clearly. Try to remember that when in an office situation, there is a lot of informal and non-verbal communication that happens.
When working from home, you don’t have these coffee-break chats, or corridor conversations, so it is important to make sure you keep in contact with not just the people you are working with, but the other people you might know and just bump into. You find out a lot of information and can share a lot in these less formal chats.
When you can, use a video conference or calling solution. Having that face to face time, even over video can drastically improve how you feel and how well you communicate with others.
Find time to enjoy it
Working from home does come with some unique benefits, so whilst I don’t suggest you abuse them, you should absolutely find time to enjoy them. Working from home means I get to spend more time with my family and walk the kids to school. I get to have home cooked lunch and even can “get home” in time to help prepare the dinner.
Popping out to the gym, going for a walk, whatever it is, make time to enjoy those added benefits of working from home as it will improve your mental and physical health which gives a great boost to how effective you are in your job.
End of day routine
Lastly, as part of your routine, set and end time. Don’t let work be all pervasive in your life just because you are at home. You might want to work a little later, or finish sooner on certain days, that’s fine. But when you call it the end of day, turn things off, leave your dedicated work zone and switch off!
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