Are you working from home and have no idea where to start? Are you having trouble settling into a routine where you can focus and actually get work done? Now more than ever, lots of companies are implementing new work-from-home policies, which means lots of us are now trying to deal with working from home full-time, for the first time.
For almost 8 years now, I’ve been working as a businesswoman and a stay-at-home mom, I’ve learned lots of tips and tricks that have allowed me to juggle both worlds in the same place.
So, if you’re new to working remotely, take these tips from someone who’s pretty used to it by now, so that you can stay productive, maintain your mental well-being, and become a home-office pro!
Give Yourself Grace
This is a time of lots of change and uncertainty, so it’s important to give yourself grace. Tons of people have never worked from home in their life, and are trying to adapt to working on top of possibly homeschooling their kids at the same time. It all sounds so crazy right!?
So, extend grace to yourself and others. Recognize that we’re all learning, and that we will all get through this. It’s okay to not have it all figured out.
Get Up, Get Dressed
This might seem obvious, but it’s one of the easiest and best things you can do for yourself while working from home. While you may not be waking up at the same early hour as you did before, it’s still important to get up at a decent hour. Get into the habit of making your bed, doing your morning skincare routine, or making a coffee. Whatever you love to do in the morning, make sure you’re getting in the habit of doing it.
It’s definitely tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, but it doesn’t support a productive mindset. Staying in your bedtime clothes tells your brain you don’t need to focus. Now I’m not saying you should dress the way you would at work, but put on semi-presentable clothes that serve as a signal that it’s time to get things done. Dress the way you would if you knew you’d be on a video call with your colleagues. Waking up and doing things to take care of your appearance can go a long way in making you feel fresh and ready for the day.
Designate a Workspace
Just like it’s important to get up and get dressed, it’s also important to pick a specific spot where you’re going to get your work done. Working at home already blurs the lines between business and your personal life, and trying to get your work done from your bed can make it even more confusing. Even though you’re working from home, it’s important to still have a distinction between both and learn to disconnect from work at the end of the day.
So, try to recreate your “office” the best way you can. Whether you physically have a home office you can use, a dining room table, or can set up a makeshift one, find a spot and make it yours. Some kind of table with a chair is best, so that you can help yourself get into the mindset of working. Having your own workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day, and when you shut off your computer and walk away in the evening, it will help you turn “off” as well. Make a space that is comfortable, productivity-enhancing, and most importantly is in a place that you can leave at the end of the day.
If you don’t get organized while you’re working from home, you’ll find that you’re not finishing any projects or getting anything done. Working from home has plenty of distractions, which is why it’s easy to start lots of things but never finish them.
I’d recommend starting with a schedule. What are the things you have to do each day for your work? Find a time and create a schedule that lists out each of your responsibilities and when you plan on doing them. It’s okay to readjust, and if you have kids, you’ll have to make a plan that works around what your kids are doing.
This doesn’t mean you have to schedule everything down to the minute, but know the times when you’re working and when you plan on taking a break, taking care of your kids, cooking a meal, or whatever it may be. When you plan ahead, you can prepare yourself by getting into the mindset of working from home.
Disconnect From Work
The hardest thing about adopting a new work-from-home schedule is learning how to turn on and off. When you’re going into work every day, it’s easy to clock into a work mindset when you’re physically at work and let it all go once you leave. However, as I mentioned before, working from home completely blurs the lines between these two, since you’re pretty much always in the same place.
So whether you work from a laptop or your phone, know when it’s time to turn it off. You don’t need to be available to your boss or colleagues at every second of the day, and you certainly don’t need to be reading and responding to emails at 10pm. Resist the temptation to get sucked into work 24/7 and know when it’s time to take a break.
I strongly recommend keeping standard business hours as much as possible. Let people know when you’re available and when you aren’t! Not only is it helpful for you, but it lets other people know when they can expect a response from you and when they’ll have to wait. While working from home, it’s extremely important to keep boundaries and set expectations with the people you’re working with.