No one ever tells you how hard it is to work from home. Whether you're new at working for yourself, or just temporarily going remote with your company, all you ever hear is the good stuff. I can wear my pajamas all day. I'm able to set my own hours. While both are true possibilities, when this becomes your daily routine, well, let's say there can be too much of a good thing. Let me be clear, working from home is often times the single hardest adjustment when leaving the corporate world.
So a friend asked me, how do you handle working from home everyday? Right now, many people find themselves suddenly working from home in these times of health safety. And I'm here to share what works for me.
1. The best tool is a good pair of earbuds.
Hands free is almost essential when working from home, because you'll spend a lot more time on conference calls and video meetings than you ever thought. And do everyone a favor by not making them suffer through speaker phone distortion, echos, and feedback. You'll hear them more clearly and you'll be more easily understood. And that will be key. Oh, and figure out now how to use the mute button :)
2. Technology is your friend.
Whether you set up video calls that help you bring the team together, use screen and file share so that you can collaborate easier, or keep track of team projects/assignments with shared lists, you'll need technological capabilities. There are tons of free services out there. UberConference, Trello, AirTable and Google Folders are some of my favorites. Get one. Heck, get more than one. Set it up. Practice how to use it. And an awesome side effect is that it'll force you to take a shower and wear proper clothes for that video call.
3. Boundaries People.
The line between when you're working and when you're not will become blurred. I know you're calling shenanigans on me. But really, sometimes you may be able to brainstorm ideas for your next meeting while wiping off your kitchen countertops. And sometimes you'll need to have an alarm to remind you that it's time to stop work for lunch. Just set healthy boundaries that help you be most effective. Know thyself. And set a clear end to your day. Sometimes I actually say the words, "I'm done!" so that I can hear myself out loud as I close my laptop.
4. Reward yourself.
With boundaries come rewards. (Yay!) I use rewards to help me keep those boundaries. No I'm not talking about stickers on a chart. But I am talking about being good to myself. Of course that means that I also had to learn how to be good to myself, which proved to be more difficult than I thought. I had to figure out what makes me feel good. And build it into my day. When I get that document complete, I will make myself a cup of tea. After this conference call, I'll take a walk around the block. I'm not sure why I never did this at the office, but I have to think it's because office activity vary the days organically. Left to our own, some of us will work ourselves into oblivion, or worse, unproductivity or even paralysis.
5. It's your schedule.
Your schedule is more flexible, so use it to cater to your natural rhythm. Group like tasks together and you'll become a better worker. You'll get more done, easier, quicker. Heck, you may even work fewer hours. If you're a clear thinker in morning like I am, then do your most complicated work when you first start your day, each day. Don't get sucked into sifting through your emails and letting them dominate your work pattern for the day. If your energy naturally plummets every day at 2pm, build in a walk to boost your energy back up and then tackle those administrative tasks that are easy to check off the list. As it gets dark outside and everything slows down, use it as your creative time. Whatever your natural tendencies are, know them and roll with it. Don't fight it, but make your work fit into your life not vs vs. Just be careful to set those boundaries so it's not all work and no play.
So stay home people. Get your work done. Connect with each other. Be a happier person.