I’ve been working at home on and off for the past couple of years.
Only since starting my own business 6 months ago have I really started to get into a rhythm. I can understand how and when I work best to help optimise my time and energy.
As more of us embrace our digital tools and work from home here are some tips for working from home
Designate a separate work space
So this was the game-changer for me. I honestly don’t know how people can work from the kitchen table or the sofa for hours on end without getting backache. The kitchen is terrible for distractions too – washing up, left out dishes, a washing machine that needs emptying etc etc….just not good.
Luckily for us, we have a spare room and I managed to get a small desk for £15 off Facebook Marketplace. I managed to squish it next to the Christmas decorations. I then ordered a proper office chair – no more backache!
Now depending on your situation, size of house etc this might be a luxury you just don’t have. But setting a space especially for your work I feel is essential. It not only gives you a place to put all your things (important notes sitting around the house is just going to make things less efficient and more stressful). This will also allow your brain (and family) to associate this space with work.
Working from your bed might seem a nice idea until it’s time to sleep, and your mind can’t switch off as it thinks it is at work!
Work when you’re at your most productive
So this will probably make sense, but putting it into practice will take some time for you. We are used to working 9-5 or being in the office at certain times, we are dictated to by time and not by productivity.
Now is the time you should be tapping into the benefits of working remotely.
Work when you feel more productive.
In the morning I am energised, and can easily tackle a whole day’s worth of tasks before lunch. This feels effortless because I’m not fighting to get motivated.
This means that when my energy starts to drop mid-afternoon (from sleepy carbs for lunch no doubt!) I can take a rest, or at least do more creative or less intensive tasks.
It is worth monitoring yourself, when do you feel more energised, when do you need to take a break? Tap into your energy and use it to optimise your productivity.
Set realistic expectations and boundaries
So this is one that can be used both if you are working in a corporate or for yourself and your own clients.
Set boundaries, but communicate them to set the level of expectations. What is realistically achievable for you when working at home. You might be able to answer emails or call right away, so don’t start off in a way that is unsustainable.
If you need to be managing chores/school runs/errands think about how that will affect your normal day. Things might take a little longer when working from home, or there may be noise and distractions that affect certain tasks such as calls or training.
If you are working for someone else, scheduling regular check-ins or setting a daily/weekly target could be helpful. Always communicate and make sure it is something that is mutually acceptable, and able to be adapted if doesn’t quite work.
If you are working for yourself and supporting clients directly it is a good idea to set expectations for things such as response times (being able to immediately respond to an email or message might not always be achievable – and knowing that working hours are between 9-4 means messages won’t be answered before or after those times).
Make headphones your friend
Now, this is the one I think everyone should take note of, whether working from home or in the office.
The curse of the open-plan office, stylish coffee house or family kitchen is noise.
Make headphones your friend. Paired with Youtube this provides calming ambient noise replacing the noise with a self-made environment for working, writing or just focussing on the task at hand.
I love the sound of a storm or waves as white noise.
Here are some of my favourite videos for background noise – play as loud as you like for full immersion.