With the way things are going with Coronavirus, it seems more of us will be working from home on a regular basis. I’ve been working from home every day for nearly two years now so I thought I’d share my tips to make sure you can be just as effective when working from home. It definitely takes more discipline, but the key advantage is you get some time back without the commute. And you can get some of those chores done around the working day which otherwise would have been left for the weekend.
7 tips for effective working from home
1) Get dressed!
I may have joked in the past that working from home allows me to sit around without a bra on all day but in fact I get up early, grab a cup of tea, do my set morning routine, have breakfast, get showered and dressed and aim to be at my desk by 8am.
I find that following a morning routine, including getting dressed, sets the intention for the day. You’ll feel more motivated and ready to work.
What I don’t generally bother with is makeup, unless I’ve got a video conference! I do tend to put on my BB cream though, just in case I scare the postman.
2) Stick to your normal working hours
The key to working from home effectively is to avoid distractions and procrastination. For me that means starting the day at the normal time. In fact, I sign on about an hour earlier than everyone in my old office. This means that I can get cracking with Tights Club stuff before any emails come in for my consultancy work.
For me, the days when I start on time are far more effective. And I find that procrastination leads to more procrastination. It makes sense psychologically that if you don’t stick to the first rule you’ve set yourself for that day you are bound to break others. And the bonus is that if you crack on you may free up some time later for some more fun stuff, exercise or personal admin that you’ve been meaning to do forever.
So start of the day with discipline and you’re more likely to achieve your goals.
3) Set goals and plan your day
Without a doubt you do need to be more disciplined when you are working from home. So write down what you need to achieve each day and plan out when you are going to do it. I just put blocks of time into a template in Excel for each task but you could do it in google calendar or in a notebook.
If you’re at home for more than a day you could do this for up to a week at a time. It will help you set out everything you need to achieve and the time it should take and work it all around any other commitments.
When I do this, and most importantly when I stick to it, I am SO much more effective. When I don’t stick to it things start slipping through the gaps.
4) Set yourself up at a table
I still don’t have a dedicated workspace as we need to build it in and sort out the internet connection. But I do always sit at a table. Not only is this better for you physically, but it will also help keep the distractions away – especially the TV! If you can, and especially if you suffer with back issues, get yourself a laptop stand and proper mouse and keyboard. Your screen should ideally be at eye level. There are some good cost-effective options on Amazon, if you can’t borrow from the office.
And you CAN’T work and watch TV at the same time. Sometimes it is nice to have a bit of noise in the background, but you’re likely either not focusing on your work or missing a lot of the show. Just get the task done (much more quickly) and reward yourself with the show with all that time you’ve saved on commuting! Stick some music on instead, you can have your most embarrassing tunes blasting and no-one even needs to know (except your family)!
I walk Nelson, my Springer Spaniel, at least once a day and that bit of fresh air is so important. Sometimes it’s the only reason I leave the house that day!
It’s so easy to spend the whole day inside if you’re working from home and have all the necessary supplies in. But even a quick few minutes outside will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to go.
Spending time outdoors in green spaces is also one of the best things you can do for your mental health. And it’s a great opportunity to get some exercise. In fact, one of the best things about getting rid of the commute is that it frees up a bit more time for exercise and hobbies, even if they are more of a solo activity for the moment.
Clearly if you are self-isolating you’ll have to stick to your own property! Otherwise, maybe just be mindful of contact with others and wash your hands.
6) Take a lunch break but DO NOT put on an addictive Netflix series!
I’ll admit, I do stick the telly on at lunch time. I’m at home all day with just the dog and if anything it’s nice to have the noise. But learn from my mistakes – DO NOT put on a programme that is longer than the time you’ve allocated for lunch. It is just too tempting to keep watching. And DO NOT watch anything that is too moreish!
If you’ve planned your day you are also much less likely to slip up as you’ll have a defined time to get back to work. The positive side is that you can enjoy your lunch break guilt free as you’ve allocated that time for yourself!
7) Set boundaries
In my limited experience of working from home alongside my husband, I would advise you to pre-agree how working at home will work with other members of the household. From where you’ll work, to what to do if you’re on a call, to limiting disruptions, it will help avoid confusion and annoyance! I also let him know if I have something particularly important that day during which I must not be disturbed!
It’s helpful that the house is my domain during the day so he has to more or less fit in around how I do things. If you’re both just starting to work from home setting boundaries is even more important.
I hope that’s helpful. I’d love to hear how you are approaching working from home and any tips you have for maintaining discipline and efficiency. Let me know in the comments below or DM me on Instagram!