When COVID-19 hit planet Earth this year, most companies deployed a “temporary” work-from-home strategy. But, as the year has progressed, for many working from home has become a more permanent option. These work from home tips will help you stay motivated and on track.
For many of us, this sudden switch of environment may be just the thing we need. For others, integrating work with home living has been a challenge to adapt to.
Whichever side of the spectrum you’re on, working from home is all the better when you are prepared for success.
Here are 9 work from home tips to help kickstart your new work pattern in the best way possible.
If you’re a non-tech person and need help getting your home network set up, you’ll find The Best Home Office Setup To Get You Up and Running useful.
This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking on a link.
Typically, our homes aren’t designed for work.
Which is why if you work from home, one of the first—and most important—steps is to create a dedicated place to work.
This area of work doesn’t need to be anything complex. Any room or space in your home that you can transform into an office is ideal.
Once you’ve marked your work territory, the next step is to note down what equipment you’ll need. A desk, chair and PC goes without saying for most home workers. But, depending on the nature of your work, additional appliances may be required, like:
Setting up your home office will require some time and effort on your part. Nevertheless, the rewards make it all the more worthwhile.
If you find your finances limited, you might enjoy reading 7 Smart Home Office Ideas That Don’t Break The Budget.
The idea of lying on a sofa or bed while you work can sound rather tempting, although ending up looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame isn’t so tempting.
However, sitting and working in this manner can have a negative impact on your physical health.
For instance, regular slouching or slumping can lead to persistent lower back pain, and excessive typing or writing can lead to tightness in the shoulders and neck.
And it’s not only our bodies that get compromised. Studies have shown that our productivity is also affected, with work-related (Musculoskeletal Disorders) MSDs being among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.
Therefore, creating a workplace that doesn’t work against you is essential for any home worker. An ergonomically friendly environment can be just the solution for this.
“Ergonomics” refers to how people can function most safely and effectively in their work environments. For an office setting, this concerns how we use the PC, telephone, and performing tasks like copying and faxing.
Using equipment that is ergonomically designed can help you sit, stand and operate in ways that naturally support the body’s posture.
Besides the mechanical benefits, creating an ergonomic home office can also help you:
So now you’re aware of the benefits, how do you start creating an ergonomic office? Here are a few steps you can take in your office right now.
Many of us spend a third of the entire day at work. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to create an environment that’s comfortable to work in? An ergonomic home office can help us reach this goal.
Now, typically speaking, it’s possible to work without any form of schedule.
Though as time goes on, an overly flexible approach to work can lead to feelings of overwhelm, confusion and even anxiety.
A more effective approach to work is to create a schedule. Not only does this help you to stay organised and productive, but it can alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that stems from poor time management.
So, how do you manage your time effectively? Here’s a simple three-step formula you can follow:
The size of the task doesn’t really matter—it could be as small as loading the dishwasher, or as big as writing a novel. The purpose here is to ‘dump’ all of your responsibilities onto paper. Research has proven this to be a healthy way of decluttering our overly-active brains, while organising our thoughts in a way that’s easier to deal with.
Many of us make the mistake of first tackling the low priority tasks on our list.
In fact, evidence suggests that 80% of the average workday is spent on things that have little or no value. While the only remaining 20% of the day is spent on “important” tasks!
While ticking off your to-do list feels like you’re moving forward, it’s important to internalize that not every task is made equal.
That being said, it’s important to devote attention to tasks that move the needle. This could be a work-related project, going to the gym, or learning a new skill. Being aware of the critical tasks can help you plan your day in order of what’s most important.
Now you’re aware of your tasks, and which are top priority, schedule them on a calendar.
Start from tasks which are most important to least, and have in place a definitive time for breaks and lunch. I like to plan either in the evening prior or as soon as I wake up. As the day commences, you can also use apps like RescueTime to help you keep accountable with the activities you’ve set for the day.
As someone who works from home, I like to go by the mantra “What gets scheduled gets done.” Planning ahead gives you that peace of mind that today has already been mapped out—now you can just get on with it!
Whether it’s watching an inspiring story, or getting a boost from a cup of coffee, it’s easier to get things done when you’re motivated.
There’s only one problem: motivation doesn’t last forever.
And, if you rely on motivation to push you through the day, it’s likely you’ll struggle to stay consistent in the long-run.
So, if motivation doesn’t stick, then what does? An empowering morning routine.
This is a special set of rituals you perform first thing in the morning. The goal is to start the day mentally, emotionally, and physically at your best.
What’s great about a morning routine, is that the more you do it, it becomes a habit. Essentially, performing these rituals can help to rewire your brain to the point where it becomes effortless.
Here’s a number of rituals you can try out:
Likewise, a morning routine doesn’t need to be long; it can be ten minutes or one hour. The main purpose is to build habits that support your success in the long run.
For more ideas on what to include in your morning routine, I highly recommend checking out Stefan James’ book: 67 Morning Ritual Habits For Your Body, Mind and Spirit.
Or check out Rowan’s YouTube video about morning routines that he posted years ago on his first channel, Your Life Designed.
I’m sure you’ve been told about the importance of productivity. Yet, this is something many of us tend to struggle with.
Here’s the thing…
Many of us are capable of being productive—what really matters is being productive in the right areas of our life.
Loading the dishwasher, as an example, may seem productive. But it’s usually a form of procrastination in disguise, and robs time away from the tasks you really should be accomplishing.
How can you break this pattern? Well, the good news is that you already know how to be productive.
The next step is to redirect your focus and energy towards the important tasks in your life.
This will vary for each person. But, usually, they are tasks we tend to procrastinate on, but know will make the biggest positive impact in our lives.
Once you nail down those tasks, productivity is something you’ll easily get in the groove with. You’ll get more done, feel more energized, and become more fulfilled with the work you achieve.
Here are some additional tips to help you stay productive:
Overall, productivity is earned through deliberate practice every day at work. Focus on this, and getting “in the zone” will become second nature.
Children shouting. Plates clanging. Floorboards creaking. These are some of the noisy distractions many home workers have to tackle!
And, if your work involves audio or video, these irritable noises can interfere with what you’re watching or listening to.
First and foremost, it’s imperative that you work during a period where these distractions aren’t likely to occur.
That being said, a noise-free environment isn’t always a luxury if you’re a parent of little kids or noisy teens.
As a remedy for blocking out trivial noise, consider using a high-quality headset.
Headsets are convenient for two reasons.
First, they are hands-free. This gives you the freedom to work while taking a phone call or listening to audio. And, second, many headsets also have noise-cancelling technology that actively blocks background sounds.
Or if your job necessitates regular phone calls, this highly rated noise-cancelling Leitner Telephone Headset can come in handy.
According to famed psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, we only have a limited amount of willpower each day so do the less palatable tasks as soon as possible.
For example, if you are on an exercise regime, you’ll find it easier to get it out of the way early. Wait until the evening and you’ll be tired as your willpower reserves will have been drained empty.
The best strategy is to schedule your day so that the most difficult tasks are completed first. Yes, it is difficult but the rewards are well worth it.
By accomplishing the important tasks first, you can move onto the less difficult tasks without worry that you’ll run tired. Plus, this approach to tasks works in alignment with your energy reserves.
Unfortunately, temptation is all around us and it is human nature to succumb to it every now and then. Even the Garden of Eden story involves Adam failing to avoid the temptation of a delicious juicy apple!
In this modern age, we are surrounded by all sorts of media including the Internet, apps, and television programs. Wherever we turn, our attention can be immediately sucked into a vacuum of entertainment.
It’s no surprise that only 18.6% of average workers can go more than 20 minutes without being lured into communication!
While the advancement of technology is extraordinary, it can also be a battlefield of distractions. Instead of reading that book, building that website or heading to the gym, we Tweet, Google and text.
How can you avoid caving into these temptations?
First and foremost, be honest with yourself and identify what exactly your distractions are. This will be different for each person.
For instance, as a home worker, there’s times where I give into my guilty pleasures of surfing the web or social media. Whereas other people may find it harder keeping their mind off (and out of) the refrigerator!
Once you have discovered your own personal distractions, create a plan to keep them at bay. For example:
When you’ve barricaded away any potential disturbances, your work day becomes easier to manage. You’ll find you’re able to “get in the zone,” without the fear that you might lose focus to the next distraction.
While you may be indoors, there’s no reason for you not to fit in time for exercise.
Exercise is not only beneficial for our physical health, but it can have a positive impact on our productivity as well.
A study on workday exercise found that participants noted a 72% improvement in time management and workload completed on days when they exercised.
Exercising releases feel-good chemicals that help to bring out the best in us. But this doesn’t mean you need to workout until you’re dripping in sweat.
A light 20-30 minutes of exercise is fine. Alternatively, little things like getting up from the computer every hour to walk and stretch is essential for any at-home worker.
The most important thing is to simply get moving!
While we have no control over this current pandemic, you can choose the way you wish to react.
You can schedule each day onto a calendar. You can start your day with an empowering morning routine. You can set up an ergonomic friendly office. You can become a better manager of time.
Whichever steps you wish to take, we can always better ourselves as home workers.
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