“Most people working for themselves have achieved work-life imbalance.” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana
We have quickly been plunged into a world where many, many more of us now work from home. Many of those many people will have always thought about what an idyllic idea this is, but working from home comes with some surprising challenges, especially if you have found yourself as a home worker unexpectedly.
Indeed, there are many great joys to be found when working from your kitchen, living room, or even home office, should you be so lucky. From more flexible hours to more family time, a shorter commute to a longer lunch break, there are many reasons to enjoy this new situation… but beware the pitfalls! Here are a few top tips on how to master the art of working from home!
1. Schedule Is Everything
In your traditional workplace, you will most likely have some sort of schedule. Whether this is a tight schedule packed tightly with precision timed appointments, or a simple designation of when your tea and lunch breaks are, a schedule you will have. When you work from home you are much less accountable to others to keep to a schedule; nobody is watching. With this being the case, it is very easy to get distracted; why not watch an hour of your programme, extend your lunch time or lie in, nobody is watching?
Thing is, this is a dangerous habit to get in to. What might seem like a bit of a holiday to being with can easily kill your long term motivation and seriously stunt your productivity. For your professional resilience and momentum maintenance, make sure you apply a schedule to your day. Depending how you work, it could be as simple as assigning a start, finish and lunch time, or as complex as assigning specific tasks to half hour slots for a whole workday. Whatever it is, making a schedule and keeping to it will see to your day having purpose and success.
2. Normal Work Rules Do Not Apply!
This is not a traditional workplace, therefore normal workplace rules do not apply. Although, as stated above, your resilience and productivity will rely on some structure, you cannot expect to work in the same way as you do in an office (or wherever your usual workplace may be). Instead of trying to replicate your work environment, listen and observe the rhythms and opportunities offered by working from home. This might mean work hours that are more spread out to fit in with family life. It might mean relaxing your dress code. Perhaps it might mean working less, but more intensely. You may have to relocate yourself throughout the day to remain focused. Find what works for you best in this new work environment.
3. ‘To-Do’ Lists Have Never Been More Helpful
These are a great way to make task completion more flexible. Instead of having a tight ‘one after the other’ approach to task completion, this system allows you to be more flexible with when and how you complete tasks. This allows for the ebb and flows experienced in a busy home.
4. Get Dressed
It is so easy not to get dressed. I have enjoyed many semi-productive work days in my pyjamas, but rarely are they more than that. Prepare to go to work as if you were leaving the house to do it. Get up, get showered, get stressed have your breakfast and start at 9 (or 10, or 11… but make sure you start at your intended hour). Take the day seriously, and serious productivity will be had!
5. Designated Work Space
Another common pitfall is to attempt to work in places and positions that you would usually associate with leisure; on the sofa, at the kitchen table, even in your bed. Again, in order to take your day seriously, it helps to have a location in your home that is dedicated solely to work. When you are in this place, it is work time, when you leave it, work is done. This really helps to create boundaries and clarity, and fens off unwanted distractions. Whether it is corner table in your living room or a full blow office, make space for work to happen.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
Don’t beat yourself up if you got distracted today, or if you weren’t at optimum efficiency, or if you were called away by family life and got a bit behind. You are only human, and working from home is surprisingly tricky. Keep striving to manage your home work situation better. Stay present and vigilant, and eventually you will find a working from home set up that works for you.
By Chris Thomson
The ‘To-Do’ List is a great friend to the home worker, here are some tips on how to compile a really great one! How to Make A Mindful ‘To-Do’ List
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