Working from home sounds easy in principle but it can be quite challenging. The tips below may seem simple on first read, but most of it can be very tricky to implement correctly. I encourage you to make plans as you read these ideas, and check back weekly to compare your progress until you feel you have mastered all the points below. Good luck.
Getting Organized at Home
Clarify your work schedule with your household
Adapting to working from home is a challenge for you as well as the people in your life. You can make the process easier for everyone when you formally define your work space and hours. Inform the people around you that during that time you are not available, even if you happen to be near them. This can apply to family members as well as neighbors that might drop in seeing that you are home.
Establish a work routine
One of the things that mistakenly goes first is the routine. It’s tempting to skip some steps, but routine is your first line of defense to have a framework conducive to being productive and comfortable.
Your schedule may have been adjusted at home, but you still need to establish work-life balance. Begin that balance by maintaining typical steps in your routine which may include things you did before to prepare for going to work: showering in the morning, ironing and wearing working clothes, grooming, keeping a timetable for coffee and breakfast.
What was in your routine before should probably still be there now. This is your first daily step to keep control and start the day right.
Establish a work space
When working from home, the blurred lines between work time and home time can be disorienting. Establishing a work space can help create barriers between your work duties and the enjoyment of your personal time. Ideally, you would have a dedicated desk and devices for your work duties, and a door you can close when the work day is done. This applies to having dedicated communication channels for work, like a phone line and email separate from your personal stuff.
Try to follow typical break rules set by your workplace. In addition, when you work from home you are typically moving less, and on your feet less, which can have a detrimental effect on your health. It is important that you respect your scheduled breaks, and use them to get up and move around.
A very important bonus would be to add some exercise breaks as well, even a couple short 5-mins sessions of simple body-weight exercises can have a positive impact on your overall health and your mood.
Leave the building
Make sure to take time for yourself outdoors. This can be taking a walk or visiting the backyard. Sun exposure is important for many reasons, including maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D.
Work hours are for work
When you work from home it is very easy to get sidetracked or pulled away. The best approach to stay organized and productive is to be rigid about your work hours. When you are at a work, you work, period. No personal messaging, no checking the news, no watching clips or chatting with anyone. Work hours are for office use only. You can do non-work things during the scheduled breaks, but don’t let those things invade your concentration during productive time.
Communicate more often
It can be easy to forget just how much we rely on each other to solve problems, find the meaning in things, and figure out what to do and how to do it. When you are working from home you are missing out on the advantage of being surrounded by others, and you are also depriving others of the advantage of working more closely with you.
Make a point of communicating more often with all your regular work people. Those that depend on you for instructions, and those that require reports from you. Send emails more often, elaborate more, and welcome anyone that requires more communication.
Spend more time in social interactions with colleagues
Teams get stuff done, strangers just get in each other’s way. When you are at a distance you are losing rapport with your team. Make a point to take extra time to have social interactions with your colleagues, bosses, and directs. This could be as simple as starting or ending every call with some small talk, as long as you are communicating often.
Schedule regular calls to stay connected
A great way to maintain constant communication is to establish a weekly 1-on-1 call with each of your people. Having it fixed on the schedule means everyone knows to expect it. Even when there doesn’t seem to be a particular topic to discuss, these meetings are essential to maintain rapport, and get a sense for how things are going on the other end. But most of the time there will be important work topics to discuss as well, so keep the scheduled calls going indefinitely.
End the day with routine
Just as you start your day right by following routine, having a routine for ending the day can be very healthy and productive. It helps reinforce the separation between work and home life, and can help you clear your mind and leave the work behind for the day. This might be a process for shutting down your home office, catching up with the news, or some routine form of exercise. Make a point to end the day with some habits that “close the door” on the work day.