Welcome to Devin’s working from home tips!
This article is based on what I have found works for me when working from home, things I try to focus on, day to day and things that help me be as productive as possible. So settle down, get a coffee (if you have any left) and enjoy!
Find a working space that makes sense for you.
That space and the way it’s set up might change on a day to day, and that’s alright. People get bored, or want to move their desk around at an office on a frequent basis, don’t expect yourself to be ok with the exact same set up every day for the entire time you are working from home. I personally alternate between sitting and standing (I have a standing desk) which helps greatly to break the monotony and keep my feelings and my brain fresh.
Keep that space as clean as you can
No need to go totally sanitary every 5 minutes, but when it starts to bug your mind, and your mind tells you to clean it, do so (preferably the next morning) otherwise your mind will continue to interrupt your thoughts throughout the next day, telling you to clean the space.
Keep the ol' morning routine
Have an easily reproducible morning routine at home, just like you do at work! - This one is hard! Try every morning, to get prepared and ready for work, as if you are leaving the house to go to an office. Even if you have to work from your room space, (not recommended, but sometimes there is no alternative) - getting up and having a routine to get ready, will change your mind from relax time, to work time, which helps immensely to “put yourself in work mode” and get going for the work day. If you have a day where you end up grabbing the laptop before you even get out of bed, try find a specific time (after a meeting or stand-up) to reset, run your routine, and go work in the designated space.
This helps to reset your mind and allow you to continue working productively for the rest of the day.
Decide what is immediate, and what can wait
Decide which things in your space can/need fixing immediately and which things can wait for after work hours. I honestly don’t believe anyone is going to complain about you taking 5 minutes to clean a space or have a snack, they sure wouldn’t mind you making a sandwich at the office. However 45 minutes to do the washing during the workday, can probably wait till after working hours.
Not every single day is going to be amazing
There WILL be days where you are unhappy to be locked inside, and you wish you could knock off and go for a beer. THIS IS ALRIGHT. I truly believe that all employers understand that everyone, is not going to be 100% productive, for every single day of their employment. Whether at home, or at an office, this is true. The important part is to allow yourself the understanding that today is just not as productive as the next day, or the previous.
Allow your mind time to reset, take those extra 30 minutes off, and allow yourself some time to reset. One day, or half a day of un-productivity when working from home is not a detriment, but allowing that mentality, and un-productivity to proceed for multiple days, is much more problematic. You’d be surprised, allowing yourself some leeway at home to stop 30 minutes early, or ease off a little at the end of the day (for a limited window of potentially a single day) will usually make you ultimately MORE productive on any of the following days.
Think about it, would you stop yourself from walking to the kitchen at the office, or stepping outside for 5 minutes to get some air? NO! So don’t stop yourself at home just because “it’s hard to be productive”
You’re all in this together
Understand that you and your co-workers are all in this together at the moment. Rather be honest with them! If you have a day where you feel un-productive, and you need some time to step out and reset your mind, then say this to them clearly and as quickly as you can. At the office they would probably be able to tell that you are not at 100% and would speak to you about it. They (more often than not) cannot tell this over text, so you need to be the one to say so, so that that there is clarity and understanding. Very often, you’ll have co-workers that will offer to chat with you, be it via voice or text, about what is bugging you, and offer suggestions, which will likely be things you have not considered, tried or thought off. More tools for your work from home belt!
Lunch and eating is extremely important
I am extremely guilty of skipping eating because I am in the middle of a task or “on a roll” with something, and don’t want to break my focus. Try not to do this, but also have the understanding that sometimes you may not want, or have the mindset to do this. In which case, give yourself some leeway. CLOSE the laptop when you get to that point, and really disconnect for the 30 minutes or hour that you have for lunch.
The ONLY person monitoring that you are getting this time is YOU, and you need to ensure that you stop being so hard on yourself and EAT!
Music changes moods
Be delightfully careful with this one! I am someone who loves music, and I truly believe that music can entirely change the mood and frame of mind that you’re in at any point in time. This does certainly NOT mean that music cannot distract you from a task at hand, hence the prior warning. However if there is a day, or time that you are in a unfriendly or unproductive mood, and you wish to change this, try listen to some music. Weirdly, I’d recommend music that has specifically put you in an uplifted or happier mood before. Music provokes emotion that we usually don’t understand, or cannot fathom how it managed to do it,
but it can correct moods, and put you back on the path to productivity.
Try to know when to stop
It’s easy to just keep going! Set a time, much like a routine of when to start, you also need a routine of when to end, and call it enough for the day. No one expects you to work till crazy late in the day, however they’re also not going to monitor when you end, so figure out when your brain or body is telling you to stop, close your workstation, and do it! Tomorrow is always a chance to try again! Giving so much every day that you burn out, is easy when working from home, but unfortunately in the long run, doesn’t help any one. You end up feeling horrible, and your ultimate productivity is vastly reduced for an extended period of time.
Stop being so hard on yourself
Last but not least, **don’t be so hard on yourselves! ** Some of us have been doing this for a while, and some of us are totally new to it, but stop thinking that every single one of us is going to excel and be extremely productive from home. You might have children to distract you, or not have the privilege of a dedicated workspace, but at the end of the day, YOU WILL LEARN what works for you, and every time you learn a bit more, you’re improving the quality of your work, the quality of your life, the quality of your communication, and untimely making work from home a practice that more and more people can learn to accomplish.
Phew! There you have it, just a couple of tips to get you rolling, and hopefully keep reminding you that this process isn’t easy, and takes lots of practice!
Hope you enjoyed my ramblings, hopefully I’ll be back soon with more