While working from home it’s all too easy to be distracted by the washing machine or the family chaos. Here are our top 12 tips for working from home to keep you efficient and focused.
- Set Boundaries with Friends and Family
Make sure friends and family respect your working time. Would they call you for a chat if you were in an office? In our age of instant communication it can feel like a text or a call must be responded to immediately. If you feel compelled to reply send a message stating that you are at work and will call at lunchtime or in the evening.
- Set Boundaries with Yourself
You can’t expect others to take your work seriously if you don’t take it seriously yourself. Switch off personal social media, don’t quickly run the hoover round or pop a load of washing on while you are supposed to be working. Schedule work time and break time and use both for their intended purpose.
- Dress Like a Pro
You’ve sorted breakfast, sorted the kids and delivered them to wherever they need to be. Obviously you’re dressed, but are you ready for work? Making the effort to wear something professional lifts your energy and improves your efficiency. If this is too much to think about in the morning, get in the habit of selecting an outfit the evening before.
- Try the Shoe Trick
You may have a no shoes indoors policy at your home. But if your home is now also your office you may want to reconsider. Can you imagine walking around an office barefoot or in slippers? Putting proper shoes on makes you feel different. What’s on your feet really does impact your headspace. Try it for a few days and you might be surprised.
- Work with Yourself
For optimum productivity take the time to understand yourself. If your energy slumps in the afternoon, schedule a walk outside or a 10 minute nap. If you’re on fire in the morning use that time to focus on the tasks that require your sharpest focus. Don’t fight your circadian rhythms but use the flexibility of working from home to help your energy flow.
- Create a Transition Ritual
So you’ve dropped the kids off, you’ve rushed back home while mentally running through the never-ending to-do list. Now you need to switch from stressed mum to calm business woman. Try and find a deliberate pause to mark this transition. Even a small ritual like brewing yourself a coffee and going through your day’s schedule, repeated in the same way every day, tells your mind its work time.
- Get Out When You Can
There aren’t many working hours between school drop-offs and pick-ups, and they fly by. For your mental wellbeing and for the sake of your business make sure you schedule a few regular “off site” visits, i.e. leave home for a while. This could mean joining a local business network or taking your laptop to a café one morning a week. Look into training opportunities to further develop your skills and get you out meeting real people.
- Define the Space
The lines between home and office can blur so much that you never feel you are fully present for either. Make a defined space for your work. Not all of us can have a separate office but with a little planning and some effort you can set up an office space that ensures your work is separate from your home. There are thousands of ideas for this online, from a curtained off bookshelf with pull out desk, to an office in a box. Find your inspiration and make your workspace inspire you.
- Fuel the Fire
Plan and prepare decent lunches. You have the advantage of having your kitchen close to hand. Use the freezer to store batches of soup that you can heat up, and store smaller portions of family meals. Have a selection of healthy snacks by your workspace so that you don’t have to make trips to the kitchen when you should be working. And of course, stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can impact your ability to think clearly.
- Stretch and Flex
Sitting at your computer all day does not make for a healthy lifestyle. Incorporate some stretching into your daily routine. Schedule this in at least for a couple of minutes twice a day. The shoulders, the neck and the wrists can be rolled slowly to release tension. And don’t forget the eye muscles. Optometrists recommend that every 20 minutes you look away from the screen and gaze at something at least 20ft away for 20 seconds. It’s called the 20-20-20 eye rule.
- Goals and Planning
Know where you’re at and get clear on where you want to be. With so much to do it is easy to feel like you can’t see the wood for the trees. Step out of this every few weeks and reassess your goals and your plans on how to achieve them. At an office, as part of a team, this might happen at a monthly meeting. Schedule one for yourself and report on how you are doing as a formal process.
- Celebrate Your Achievements
We can be all too hard on ourselves. If you are working alone it’s easy to feel swamped by all the things you have to do and all the things you didn’t get done. Take a moment at the end of each working day to jot down all the fantastic things you have achieved. It doesn’t matter if these are minor, like keeping to your stretching schedule or clearing your email list before lunch. You have to be your own cheerleader.