A lot of people are working from home these days. Even before Coronavirus took over the headlines more and more workers were ditching the commute for their couch. Digital technology makes it so easy for you to build and manage your empire from anywhere. Sounds good right? Wait, there are a few big challenges!
IT IS HARD TO CONCENTRATE at home! Trust me on this, as an independent blogger I have been working from home for years and know this first hand. Yes, you can manage the repair man, but he is also there interrupting your flow. Yes, you can make yourself a healthy lunch, but it becomes harder to pick up where you left off before stopping. Another major issue in NYC is when a rock band drummer in the apartment upstairs decides to work from home too!
Let me help you out. While not perfect I have found a few things that really help me maximize productivity when I work from home. They may seem small but for me they are essential to getting anything done. Below are my 5 top tips to working from home.
Wait, I thought the entire point was to avoid a commute?! Let’s start by unpacking the three components of your journey to work; the mental stress, the financial cost, and the time loss. Now let’s take those three resources and figure out how to use them elsewhere now that they aren’t needed for transportation.
I wake up at 6:30 am (like I would with a day job), cook a healthy breakfast, and I head to the gym. For me, going to the gym is my commute. I stress my body instead of my mind, I pay to access a great space, and use my time to achieve my fitness goals. It takes about the same resources, but I am using it to self improvement. Even if sometimes it’s just a short walk.
Whenever you work from home for long periods, it’s essential to protect your mental health. I prefer to get my day started with an endorphin filled gym session. We all know a self care routine is vital to protecting our mental health and eliminating stress. By removing the subway commute, I avoid headaches and sets me up for a great day at my home office.
Even when I am all alone I like to look nice. As soon as I get back from the gym I take a shower and pick out my outfit for the day. This does not have to be business casual, just something fun that makes me feel good about myself as a professional. It’s so easy to get stuck in the pajama trap and this is not a great idea long term.
For me, this falls into the “pretend who you want to be” category. I imagine that a lot of you out there dream of a life untied from the drudgery of a 9-5. You desire to wake up feeling refreshed by your creative existence. If that is what you want, start acting like it. Success can come from something as simple as dressing as the person you want to be.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of spending all day in a messy bed, but don’t do it. Similar to getting dressed, the space you occupy can have a big impact on your psychological outlook. I recommend having a small home office because it creates a separate space where you know you can get work done. Even if that means just having a laptop positioned near a bright window. While you might now have a spare room, even putting a small desk in your bedroom can create a center of focus. Check out my posts on decluttering and easy interior design ideas.
Treat this area like a traditional office, leave when you are done for the day and clock back in at a set schedule in the morning. Even if the space is in your home, having some separation between work and play is essential for the modern remote worker. My workstation is in my bedroom, but I choose to ignore it when I am outside office hours.
While you should treat working from home like going to work, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick the schedule that’s best for you. Some people are natural night owls and other like to get up early, unless you having meetings just do what comes naturally.
I personally love to get up early. I like to go to the gym then attack my biggest creative challenges first. Getting my biggest problems done first takes me to lunch, where I rest and recharge. After lunch I tackle errands, tasks, and emails. My Boyfriend is the opposite, he does his intense work at night. He says that writing and creative work flow best for him then.
As long as you are are consistent and build a schedule there are no wrong answers. Science says that syncing your biological clock with your daily schedule will help you make the most of the day. Taking a break is crucial as well as compartmentalizing time. Also, don’t forget to take steps to safeguard your overall wellness. It all boils down to finding the right balance that works for you.
One of the biggest challenges I face working from home is the lack of interaction with others. In the 9-5 world you are constantly interacting with colleagues; from desk side gossip to long meetings the amount of face time can almost be overwhelming. Working from home you get none of this.
While you are alone at home, you can still schedule IRL meeting to work collaboratively on projects. If that is not enough, consider a part time co-working space to meet a crew of equally location independent workers. If you have friends working from home, there is no reason you can’t invite them over for a work and lunch session.
When the day is done, don’t forget to mentally clock out and go make connections. It is especially important to make the effort to go join friends for a happy hour or get to that birthday party. This is important for your mental health and you never know who will help take your career to the next level.
There is something deeply rewarding about being in control of your day to day movements. You will be amazed how much you can accomplish once you get rid of all your daily work from home anxieties.
I have always worked from home and my parents have always worked from home so this seems normal to me. While it can be an adjustment and learning curve, this is a great step to increase your freedom and find a new way to interact with the world.
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