Working from home can be a huge challenge if you aren’t used to it. Having more autonomy and a flexible schedule can be wonderful as opposed to being chained to an office. But more distraction and less surveillance can lower your productivity if you aren’t careful. Sitting at home all day alone can also have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.
However, with the right tools and the right attitude, you can do it. Here we have the best tips for working from home to make your home office easier to use and more efficient. Whether you’re a freelancer, a teacher, or a small business owner, it is important to follow a few simple tips to create a productive working environment. These tricks, tools, and strategies can help you stay focused and stay healthy while working from home.
Set up Your Work Space
One of the main tips for successfully working from home is to set up a viable workspace. Whether it’s a guest room, in the back shed or garage or veranda it’s a place that should be used for work and work only. Even if you have a small apartment, it’s essential to free up a place where you can work comfortably. You can find a corner where you can fit your desk, or even set up in the hallway if you prefer.
The best place for a miniature office would be next to a bright window. Sunlight can increase productivity and brighten the mood considerably in any situation. It’s essential that you can make a mental note of that particular place as a “home office”.
Whatever you do, do not work from the bed or the couch. Places like these should be used for rest and relaxation. Your mind can easily associate different environments with different feelings, and confusing them with each other can ruin both your sleep and your productivity.
Organise Your Workplace
Always try to keep your workplace clean and tidy. Being in a chaotic environment can have negative consequences on your productivity. An even bigger risk is the impact it can have on your motivation and mood. By its very nature, working from home requires more willpower as there are so many distractions everywhere around you.
Once it’s cleared up, optimise your workspace by adding plants to improve the air freshness, or a music system if it helps you focus. You can also add whatever’s necessary for your profession, like a projector if you’re doing presentations.
Most importantly, get a desk that is the right height and a neat chair that supports your back well. You can also consider a standing desk or ball you can sit on. These take some getting used to but can relieve you of back pain or help you avoid it. You can easily improvise a standing desk by placing a box upside down on your desk so your keyboard is higher up. Learn about the Lunchtime Chair Yoga therapy practices you can bring into your day. This way you will refresh your mind and become more productive.
Avoid being near a fridge or having snacks, or drinks nearby. Instead, always have a little bottle of water by your side and keep refilling it. It’s good to incentivise movement whenever possible and it can be a great refreshment.
Make a Tight Routine and Stick to it
Once your job is done, establish a consistent routine. Sure, working at home is one of the advantages of being able to work whenever you want, but that doesn’t mean that you should work only when you feel like it. A structured schedule helps to significantly increase productivity and it can keep deadlines away. It also makes it easier for you to separate your work from your free time. Make a point to put your phone down and shut the lid on your computer. Read why we are so addicted to our smart phones here.
Try to figure out the time of the day when you are the most productive and work out a schedule around it. There’s no reason to force yourself to become a morning person if you feel prefer working at night. It is best to start your day as if you were going to the office. So get out of your pyjamas, brush your teeth, shower, and get dressed to signal your brain that it’s time to get to work.
Develop a schedule based on what you do and where your customers or colleagues are. If you work for a company within your time zone, plan your schedule around their working hours. However, if you work for clients from different time zones and countries, it’s better to work in shorter blocks throughout the day rather than for 8 straight. Whenever possible, make a routine that overlaps with that of your colleagues and customers for the best results.
Take Breaks Often and Walk Around!
Making short breaks from work every 90 minutes or so renews your energy level and prepares you for the next task. You can use these breaks to get up and stretch for some light exercises, fill up your water bottle, walk around the house, or get some fresh air. That’s the best time to eat a healthy snack and come back fresh and ready to go.
Sitting all day can be pretty bad for you. Some studies suggest that every hour of sedentary activity lowers your life expectancy by more than 20 minutes, which is a pretty terrifying statistic. If you can’t use a standing desk or a ball, and space prevents you from moving too much, you can give chair yoga a go. It’s extremely convenient in any scenario and can be done in short bursts between workloads.
Most importantly, stand up at least once an hour throughout the day and aim for some light activities. If you have quick chores to take care of, that would be a great time. You can play with your kids, take your pet for a walk, or really do anything that will get you moving and allow you to clear your head.
If you keep forgetting to take breaks there are some apps you can use that do precisely that. Just set up how frequently you want to be reminded and heed your alarm’s advice!
Set Limits for Yourself and Others
Working from home can be especially hard if you have children, other family members, or pets around you, it is important to set limits that everyone can respect. You are at the end of the day, putting food on the table. Let everyone know your working schedule and when they can’t bother you. If your workplace has a door, keep it closed while working. You can even resort to a “do not disturb” sign if things get out of hand.
If you have young children or pets, it might be more difficult to communicate when you need peace and quiet. This is one of the bigger challenges with working from home, but there are solutions. You can try to set your schedule around their rhythm so that you work while they’re asleep. This is especially a great solution for pets as you can’t really inform them when to keep quiet unless they have training.
Taking care of your children and working at the same time can be really tough. But even if you are alone, you must set online limits. Make it clear when you have time for chatting or a video call. If you are using apps like Skype, you should set your status to “Busy” when you are immersed in a project so that your friends know not to bother you.
And don’t forget that limits should also apply to your free time. Don’t be tempted to answer professional questions in your free time. So put out all your notifications and close your messaging and email apps at the end of a working day, so that you really only work during working hours. View Chair Yoga for upper body video here.
Avoid Distractions and Procrastination
Distraction kills productivity. But when you work from home, there’s a new distraction waiting everywhere around you.
The limits we talked about earlier can help minimise distractions. Consider checking your emails and your correspondence at fixed times. Don’t leave your messaging apps open, because as soon as you get a new message, you know you’ll want to check it out. This can wreak havoc on your concentration and leave you bouncing back and forth between your laptop and your phone.
The best solution is to disable the push messages and sounds on your phone entirely. All of these noises and notifications may not seem like a big deal, but they distract your focus for a second and that’s enough to completely lose focus. Turning off your phone or moving it to another room can help, unless you need it for your work. In this case, you should only set your social media apps to silent. Learn more about controlling your phone usage here.
If your whole apartment is noisy, a good set of headphones can keep you calm and focused. There are many apps and programs you can use to avoid distractions by blocking certain time-consuming websites and social networks. Most phones today even have built-in features to block certain apps for a certain amount of time. Even better, set these blockers on a schedule, and never worry about it again.
Communicate With Your Team
Communication is the backbone of remote teamwork. While working from home, it’s easy to forget that you have colleagues who are doing the same thing and to keep in touch with them.
When communicating in writing, write your messages carefully. Give more context, explain things in more detail, and consider how your message sounds to the other person. Consciously use a friendly tone in your messages, because this can greatly improve the exchange. If you’re used to working in an office, you’ll find that it’s more difficult to synchronise with others, which is why clear language is important.
End your calls and emails with a summary of what you plan to do next or draw a conclusion so that everyone’s on the same page. If you have calls or virtual meetings, use video whenever possible. When you can see each other’s faces you’ll feel more connected, and there is less room for a misunderstanding.
Also, remember to leave the room for questions and comments. Give people time to answer, and when you ask someone a question, start with the person’s name so they know you’re talking to them. Don’t forget to keep the atmosphere light-hearted with an occasional anecdote or a joke, to raise the spirits and keep the team spirit alive.
Do Whatever Works for You
Working from home has changed our work environment in some drastic ways. While these tips can help guide you and ease your transition, they probably won’t work for everyone, so don’t force them if you feel like they aren’t working out for you.
As sociologists and companies argue about the advantages and disadvantages that widespread remote work will have on our society, more and more people are choosing this method. Even after all social distancing is over, you might find that you prefer this remote type of work. If you do, make sure that your mental and physical health are your primary concerns, so that working from home can feel like a blessing instead of a curse.
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