Work From Home — Tips And Tools
During the past few years, many more people have begun to work at home rather than an office. The COVID-19 lockdown accelerated this trend, and Stanford University reported that 42% of US workers were working from home full-time as of June. To help all those people get as much done as possible during working hours, I’ve put together this brief overview of our top 10 work from home tips.
Get Out of the House
This tip might sound out of place in an article about how to work from home, but it is best to work at a cafe, coworking space, or other public space if possible.
The main reason for this is because it’s a lot less likely you’ll get distracted. People not used to working from home are likely to let their attention drift and start doing something else on their computer, but it makes them more self-conscious and less likely to goof off if they’re working around others.
The best public space to work in would be a forest or park with places where you can set up a laptop because working in natural settings increases productivity.
Word of advice related to this tip: get soundproof headphones to block out some of the noise around you.
Take frequent breaks, and make them count. What you do during your breaks has a significant impact on your state of mind when working, so do some research into productive break time activities and work them into your schedule (see the “set a schedule” tip below).
The office tradition of taking two or three longer breaks during the day is not ideal. Instead, you’ll focus better if you take shorter breaks more often. Supposedly the optimal work-break timing for most people is to take a 17-minute break every 52 minutes of work.
Make an Office
If you are unable to work out of the house or just don’t want to go out, you should spend some time creating a home office. Plopping yourself down on the living room couch and hunching over your laptop is not conducive to good work! Read the article below for some tips on how to be more productive through good office design.
As your own boss, part of your job is to minimize your distractions. For example, do not keep your Facebook open in another tab of your browser, waiting for the DING! That signals a new notification. Do not text your friends while working. Don’t go on Youtube. A helpful tip to avoid temptation is to actually log out of your social media apps (like email), so you don’t end up checking them compulsively.
The reason for this tip is that getting into a rhythm is very important for those who work from home. Constant distractions will only make that rhythm harder to achieve.
Set a Schedule
Although it may be tempting to work whenever you want, since you don’t have anyone making you adhere to certain hours, it’s not a good idea. You should set the hours you will work (and when you will take breaks) and stick to that schedule.
When you work at home, maintaining a work-life balance is already one of the most challenging parts of the job. Keeping an ever-changing schedule just makes it more challenging.
Throw Your Name Out There
Since you don’t actually go to an office every day, it’s more difficult to meet business contacts and gain exposure in your industry. That is unless you make an effort to put your name out there through networking.
Socialize with others from your industry whenever possible. Networking events, local conventions, Linkedin… read up on the best ways to network while working from home.
Don’t Work After Hours
Designate a specific time as the end of your workday — say, 6:00. At that time, finish the email you’re writing or the phone call you’re on and then be done with work for the day. After that, no checking work email or signing onto Linkedin until work starts tomorrow morning. You can obviously make exceptions if you expect an important correspondence after work, but the point is that you should generally unglue yourself from devices.
Some people find it helpful to establish an end-of-day ritual that helps them switch their brain from work mode to family mode.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family for help with your tasks every now and then. Since you don’t have an office work team to help you out, it’s alright to ask your spouse to help you collate some papers (for instance) if they have a day off.
Experiment With What’s Productive
Different people boost their productivity in different ways. Some people work best with music; some don’t. Some people can relieve tension by calling a friend over their lunch break; others are too easily distracted. Try everything to find out what works best for you.
Get a Separate Number
Don’t use your home phone as your work phone as well.
The first reason is because it’s unprofessional. While you probably answer your home phone with a casual “hello?”, you should be a bit more formal with your home office phone greeting.
The second reason is to keep from answering work calls after office hours.
Work from home is usually a lot more productive than office work, but it can also be a disaster if handled incorrectly. Follow these 10 tips to put yourself on the right path!