How to work from home effectively
Whether it’s a virus, public transport strike or major renovation in your office, at some point in your career you may find yourself forced to work from home. Getting used to the home environment while keeping the same level of productivity might be challenging, but with little tweaks here and there you can turn your home into a constructive and pleasant work place.
Over the last ten years I’ve been working from a home office, constantly adjusting, testing and improving my set-up to reach an ideal scenario. Let me then share with you some tips that may inspire you to work effectively when you’re stuck at home.
- Build an ergonomic work place
It’s difficult to work productively if you’re staring at a laptop on a sofa or at a dining table. A comfortable space will help you focus and feel your best. Even if you don’t have a room that you could convert into a home office, you’ll still need a separate area with a desk, comfortable chair with armrests (or no chair if you prefer a standing desk) and a monitor placed directly in front of you. If you’re working on a laptop – connect it to an external keyboard or a bigger screen to increase your comfort. If you choose to work on a PC or Mac, use two monitors for better visibility and efficiency.
Your goal should be recreate your office environment at home or revamp it to make it easier to switch to a work mode when you’re at home. So, consider investing in an extra screen and comfortable furniture to be able to focus on your tasks without any pain, distractions or limitations.
- Have a morning routine
No matter what’s going on around, you need something that will help you keep sane. This is where a morning routine comes in. Your constant daily activities will prepare you for the day ahead, no matter what happened a day before or what is about to happen in the next hours. For example, you can start your day from drinking a glass of water, going for a short run or doing exercises at home, followed by a cold shower and a proper breakfast. Daily affirmations or visualisations may help you shape a perfect and productive day as well. Just because you can march straight from the bed to the computer doesn’t mean it’s the best strategy to begin a new day. I’ve been there, done that, and it’s definitely not a place I’d ever want to go back to.
My daily routine starts from a glass of water and shower followed by ashtanga yoga practice (at home or outside), shower, and nutritious breakfast with coffee. Only then I walk into my home office and can start a productive and fulfilling day. Your routine doesn’t have to take two hours, like in my case. Sometimes 15 minutes will be equally effective. So, experiment for a while to see what works best for you. Wake up earlier to have more time for yourself to be able to set the tone of your day and focus on what really matters.
- Turn on the business mode
When you work from home it might be tempting to skip most of the things you do when you have to go out to the office, such as changing your pyjamas into a decent outfit or eating real breakfast. While wearing pyjamas or eating in front of your screen might feel quite liberating for the first few days, in the long run it will make you feel low and unproductive. Just because no one can see you, doesn’t mean you can go wild.
Of course, everyone has different preferences, but in most cases dressing “for work” will make you feel that you really are at work. So, brush your hair and put on a comfortable, presentable outfit to be able to act professionally and productively.
- Separate private time from business time
Another danger of working at home lurks in household chores. A sink piling up with dishes, full laundry basket, dusty floor – all this can distract you and force you to interrupt your task. While there’s nothing wrong with doing some little chores in your breaks as a reason to stretch or move away from the desk, you should still try to focus mainly on work in your work time. That’s why a separate work station is so important. Whether it’s a dedicated home office or a desk in a corner of your living room – your work area will help you switch to a work mode, and then back to the home mode, when you leave it. Try to do all the household chores before or after your standard working hours to avoid multitasking and constant interruptions. In this way keeping the private life separate from the business life will be much smoother.
- Take regular breaks
Whether at home or in an office – working long hours in front of a computer can be detrimental to your health. Even if you use a standing desk, you’ll still need regular breaks to let your eyes rest. Figure out when your productivity drops and try to schedule short breaks when your mind and body needs it. Take a short walk around the house, grab a coffee, look through the window, close your eyes or make some stretching exercises – or do anything else that will help to change your perspective and boost your circulation.
There are many strategies and tricks that can help you work effectively from home. Once you limit all the distractions and set up a comfortable working space everything else will shortly fall into place as well.
So, what is your experience with working from home?