The novel coronavirus has changed a lot of things, and working from home seems to be the new normal. But, working from home sure does come with many challenges.
But, is it possible to be just as productive at home as you are at work?
Today, I present to you my work-from-home survival guide, with 7 tips for working remotely from home so that you can be more productive and not go crazy in the process.
Let’s get started right away!
7 Tips for Working Remotely at Home (and Winning at it!)
Let’s jump into my best tips for a productive day at work (from home!).
1. Pick a Dedicated Space In Your House
This is the space where you are going to work when you’re at home. You want to pick a place that’s basically separate from where you do most of your personal activities and your family activities.
Personally, I have my own dedicated office so that is the place that I go within my house to do work most of the time. If you do not have a dedicated room that you can use for your office, you will have to get a little bit creative.
Some people would say that you should never work in your bedroom, for instance, but I would actually disagree with that.
The main principle is that you want to keep your home life and your work life separate, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. For us, it’s so easy to blend those two and have them impede each other.
You definitely don’t want to be working when you’re supposed to be playing or when you’re supposed to be spending time with your family. So, having those two separate spaces allows you to make that mental shift from one thing to the other.
If your bedroom is all you’ve got, I think that’s totally fine, mostly because a lot of us nowadays don’t spend a lot of time in our bedroom. We spend more time in our family room or in our living room. In the end, you will have to decide what is best for you and your situation.
2. Set Clear Boundaries with Your Family
Once you’ve found a place where you’re going to work, the next thing you need to do is set some boundaries for your kids and your significant other. Otherwise, it is easy for them to feel as if you’re a little bit more accessible–even if you have a dedicated office.
You want to make it clear to them when your work hours are and when your work hours are not. Again, this goes for both your kids, your partner, or even a roommate as they may not be used to you being at home all the time.
This just sets up the boundary so that you can make sure you actually get your work done. Once you’re finished, you’ll be ready to play and hang out.
3. Use a Combination Of Headphones and Music to Drown Out Any Noise
Your home isn’t a workspace or an office, and since you may be home with family, you are bound to hear a lot of things–screaming children, bickering parents, TV noise, FaceTime conversations, etc.
You can tune all these distractions out using a combination of a pair of good, noise-canceling headphones and music.
I definitely don’t recommend that you listen to your favorite band. You should listen to maybe classical music or some sort of ambient music that can act as white noise, and drown out the activity around you.
4. Video Calling Works Best for Meetings
Do all of your meetings and all your calls through a video call. This is something that I’m sure you’re already aware of, but, I’m going to give you a few pointers within this.
Of course, in an ideal situation, you’d want to meet in person with someone – you can’t beat that – but a close second is doing a video call.
A lot of people can be insecure about doing their video calls from home because you just never know what could come up. There are so many uncertainties. You don’t know if the UPS man is going to ring the doorbell. You don’t know if your kids (if your kids are home) might start yelling or crying in the background!
But, the thing is, people are a lot more forgiving than you realize in this digital age. Just say, “Hey, I’m sorry about the noise. I’m actually working from home today.” You’d be surprised how many times I’ve done this, and people don’t even worry about it.
In fact, the thing that actually makes it more awkward is when you act like it’s not even happening. If you remember the BBC news broadcast from a few years ago, there was a guy who was actually in his home giving a report when his children walked in and were playing. He tried to act like it wasn’t even happening, and that’s kind of what made it more humorous!
Recognize that this is part of it. Just be willing to acknowledge it, and laugh it off. Most people will understand!
But one way that you can try to avoid this altogether is by Time-Blocking all of your meetings at one particular time on one particular day.
If you knew that there’s a particular day that your spouse is going to be out with the kids, or if you’re going to have the house to yourself during that time, that would be a good day to block all of your meetings back-to-back. That way, you don’t have to worry about potential background noise.
One final tip on video calls… Invest in some good lighting. What most people don’t know is that this is just as important in video calling. Invest in your video quality with something like Desk Light (available on Amazon) so that you can increase the professionalism of your video calls. Trust me, it can make all the difference!
5. Develop a New Routine
For many of you, you’re probably coming from an office situation or a typical “9 to 5” where your routine is somewhat set for you. But now, you have to make your own hours and develop a routine that will set yourself up for success.
The reason for it is really just to make sure you get your work done using a defined schedule that you stick to.
As you’re developing this routine, one thing I might actually recommend to you is that you work fewer hours. There’ve been a lot of studies out there showing that we’re really only productive during a small portion of the typical workday. If you decide to work for around 4-6 hours, instead of the full eight hours, you’re probably going to get about the same amount of work done. So, if you have the flexibility to do so, consider working fewer hours.
And a tool that I’m going to recommend to you to help you accomplish this is something called “Time-Blocking.” Now, Time-Blocking is basically a productivity tool where you basically decide, from this time to this time, I’m going to work on this particular task. And, in doing so, you commit single-focus to this one task–in other words, you’re not going to multitask and keep switching from thing to thing. You’re going to work on that one task until you get it done in the time you set.
Time-Blocking, you can actually get more done and a lot less time. Ultimately, it can allow you to focus and take back control of your schedule.
I’m actually in the middle of writing a book specifically about Time-Blocking. So, you’ll be hearing a little bit more about this in the future, and I hope you’ll check out the book once it’s out!
6. Get Out of the House
If at all possible, I encourage you to get out of the house sometimes just to change up your environment. This will help you to keep your sanity!
As someone who works from home, my favorite thing to do is to go work out of coffee shops. I do that about once a week at a local spot. I know that, for some people, it can be a little bit distracting to work at a place like a coffee shop. It will be up to you to figure out what is going to work best for you and your personality.
Disclaimer: this may not be possible if you’re reading this during the Coronavirus pandemic. You, however, can use the hotspot capabilities on your cell phone and can get creative by working from somewhere outside your home. You can try going to your building’s roof if you’ve got access, a public park, the lake, etc. But please do so while maintaining social distance!
7. Enjoy Yourself
Honestly, working from home does have a lot of perks!
Even though it can be stressful at times, try to enjoy the flexibility that comes with it.
For instance, I know a lot of people will say you definitely should get dressed every day as you feel professional when you’re working. But, you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to follow any set of rules.
If you want to work in your pajamas all day, then why not? If you want to work outside, then why not? If you want to take a break at lunch and spend time with your kids, then you should definitely do that!
Take this time and really have fun with it.
So, this has been my Survival Guide for working from home. Whether you have been working from home for a while, or you are brand new to it, I hope you found it helpful.
If you did find it helpful or know someone who needs to read this, please do share it!
Have you ever worked from home? What are your survival tips? Share them with us in the comments!