Ok by now we are facing the reality that we are working from home. For some this is a dream, count me in this group I have been doing this for years and love my commute. For others, it can be a nightmare balancing work with children, spouses, and even friends who drop in for a coffee. Well, the last one is not an issue right now but prior to the lockdown, it seemed friends would just drop in anytime. Drop me an email if you want to know how I handled that one.
No more fluff here is what you need
1 Getting Your Head in the Game
We all use our traditional commute to do this. How you do it when you don’t have a commute is up to you. I have a set process that I follow. It may work for you it may not. I treat a workday as just that. So up at 630, breakfast, shower, dress and then I walk around the block to work. Yes, I have a commute, even in the winter I do this it just helps me get my head in the game. Now the dress code is casual but that is also the business I am in. I do get dressed
2 A Dedicated Work Space
Sure it is tempting to grab the tablet/laptop and dive onto the couch! Even if you are living alone this will impact productivity and take away a relaxing space. It is difficult to focus, temptations may be there to just have the tv on in the background. Or if you are a little OCD like me to tidy up and clean. You need to separate the worlds to have a work-life balance. You need a space for work and a space that is home.
Ok, so what is best? Ideally, a separate room that is only used as an office space. For me that is possible and I have over the years been able to furnish it. You may be thinking well it’s just for 4 weeks. So be creative a desk is just a table to hold stuff off the ground the door is the key thing here so you can shut yourself away from the world and focus.
3 Hands-Free Headset
I am on the phone a lot talking with clients, team members, and suppliers. Often I need to write something down, take a note or update the CRM. Try juggling a smartphone under your ear? I use reasonably priced earbuds my current set I have had for 2 years cost around $20. You are not producing a symphony. Do not go too cheap call quality drops. I use a wired set so I don’t have to worry about charging a Bluetooth device, this I use for my commute.
4 Mac or PC Second Screen
A Chromebook just does not have the power you need to run business software. Ok as a backup. Oh yes, make sure you have a backup. You may even find your boss is providing this. It may be an ask but a second screen I find invaluable. If you are buying the gear yourself, perhaps a new startup, or cost is an issue, there are good ex lease laptops and monitors available. Remember its the hard disk, ram, and processor power that counts.
5 A good chair
Make sure you are well supported after all you will find yourself spending more time at your desk. Virtual meetings mean you no longer get up and go and talk to others, or go to meetings. You’re no longer in a coworking space where you’re snagged by colleagues for “two-second” conversations when you’re on your way to the bathroom…
As a result, a majority of your workday, if not all of it, is now spent staring at your computer screen, typing away on your keyboard, and mousing away with your mouse. So make sure you are looking after yourself.
Hint: Get up and take a stretch there is software to remind you. I have set up recurring reminders Stretch Break, Coffee Break, Lunch, GO HOME.
You will need to make sure you are all using the same one. Saves a lot of time deciding what to use. I have several from Skype, Zoom, What’s App, Messenger. I use what my clients like and as a team we use Zoom.
As a team, we also use Microsoft Teams as our Chat App. This lets us all stay in touch. OUr mobile plan gives us unlimited minutes to call so often we pick up the phone
File Sharing Software
The same rule applies as for Video Chat. DropBox is my favourite, we also use Google Drive for office files so we can control who sees what and works on what.
Tips From Work From Home Lifers
Be conscious of your time
Remote work can be deceptive. You think you’ll have all this extra time now that you’re no longer having to commute, do your hair, put on pants, what have you. Then five o’clock rolls around, and you’re suddenly wondering why you didn’t get more accomplished.
Try as you might, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is going to be tricky when you work at home. Laundry, personal errands, and playing with the kids will creep into your workday.
Schedule Time with your friends and Non-Work Tasks
Whether it’s a phone call or getting together for happy hour, I always try to have at least two or three “connection points” scheduled each week. For me, it’s usually other entrepreneurs, because I feel like they are the only people who “get” me, but the point is to be a bit more proactive with your social life. There’s a lot less serendipitous hanging out when you’re working from home.
This is one of the first and fuzziest challenges for most people. When you’re working, you’re working, not doing household chores or cooking. Strive to start and end your day at the same times, with a little flex because you can. Tell family and friends you’ll get back to them after work. Housework is not working from home
Easier said than done but you need to be disciplined. Put your phone on silent, let voicemail take a message. This way you can deal with work calls by calling them back and leaving family calls to after-work time.
Find your best work time for jobs that need focus. I started working on this at 630 am and will have it done by 830. The joy of working from home right? Go Dark turn off everything and get to the task at hand. My best work times are early and late so I give myself permission to go for a walk, swim at the beach, go to the gym from 3 to 5. This helps keep me focused and means I work at my most productive times. This break also freshens me up
Have a Routine
I mentioned this before but it seems to be a recurring thing. When you work from home, it can be harder to beat the procrastination monster. Having a steady routine can help you with this though.
Set a time at which you start each day. If you have a number of recurring tasks, tackle them in the same order. This will help prevent you from procrastinating on which task to start first. On the other hand, while it’s good to have a routine, don’t forget that flexibility is one of the main perks of the job. You don’t have to be overly rigid. It’s okay to have a day where you start a little later, or you move one of your tasks to the end of the day because you’re just not in the mood for it.
Set Goals, write them down and celebrate
It’s a commonly given piece of advice but it works for me. I write three work goals on to post its which I put on my monitor. I know old school right. Not only does it focus you during the day but it also helps you recognize a good day. Sometimes I’ll feel like I didn’t have a great day, but then see that I got my three things done and realize it was better than I thought. And that’s a good feeling to end on. Celebrate them it may sound crazy but my family have got used to a loud YES bursting forth. Now they know ok Dad has got something done
Take time to be healthy
The kitchen is right there prep a good lunch and eat it. Do not eat at your desk take coffee and meal breaks as just that. You will need to shop smart so you have the ingredients.
Use recurring reminders to remind you to take a break it takes 10 minutes to set up for the year
Sitting or even standing in roughly the same place for several hours a day is not something your body will be thanking you for. Sitting for long periods is rough on your back and your behind, while standing is tough on your legs. Take breaks to stretch and move around. Getting your muscles and joints moving in a variety of ways can help prevent repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel.
Take a break every hour or so to disengage from your work and allow your brain to have a little playtime. Stick your earbuds in, go outside for 5-10 mins, breathe, take in the surroundings and allow your mind to think of anything but your work tasks.
Have activities outside of work that you can constantly get better at and that are a natural expression of who you are. This helps keep you balanced. If I’m always working and serving others I end up feeling like a robot who has no time for myself. Me I have a passion for golf that is not matched by skill but I can support our junior golf program
Log in and Log out of work
Mentally that is. I start my day with a 10-minute walk and I finish it with a 10-minute walk. Yes, I walk one way around the block to work and the opposite way to go home. Did I mention I have a little OCD 😁😁