Working from home can be a challenge, especially when you’re not used to it. There are a lot of distractions that can interfere with your work, sometimes causing you to get so off track that you end up behind on important tasks. While many consider working from home to be a great perk, if you’ve never worked from home before then you might be surprised at just how stressful it can be!
Fortunately, you’re not on your own. These are stressful times, and I’m here to help you get through them. To that end, here are some tips that will make working from home for the first time a lot easier.
1. Set Up Your Space
When you think of working from home, you might picture yourself lounging on the couch in your pajamas with a laptop on your lap. While some people do choose to work like this when working from home, for most home workers this sort of setup is going to kill any productivity they might have. Instead of taking a “work wherever I end up” approach, set up a desk or office space that’s intended solely for work-related activities. This will help you to stay on task when you’re at work and will keep work activities from bleeding over into leisure time.
2. Check Your Equipment
If you’re used to having in-person meetings during the week, getting used to remote meetings via a video service like Zoom or Skype can be a bit of an adjustment. To make this easier, check your equipment beforehand to ensure that everything will work correctly when it’s time to start a meeting. This includes checking your webcam, your microphone and your speakers to make sure everything functions properly. There are websites and software solutions that help you with this, and some platforms like Zoom have built-in tests as well.
3. Keep to a Schedule
One common misconception about working from home is that you automatically gain the freedom to work whenever you feel like working. While this may be true for some industries, if you’ve been working 9 to 5 for the last 10 years then that isn’t likely to change much just because your office is now in your guest room. Keep as close as possible to your regular schedule, allowing for possible reduced hours or other differences brought about by working from home. It can help to print out a copy of your “office hours” as well, both as a reminder to others that you’re busy with work and a reminder to yourself that you’re supposed to be on the job.
4. Avoid Distractions
It’s said that one of the hard things about working from home is the fact that home is where we keep all our favorite distractions. This includes a lot of things, ranging from games to books to the TV. It also includes family members, who can be hard to ignore when you’re supposed to be on the job. As much as possible, try to avoid interacting with the people and things in your home unless you’re taking a break from work activities.
5. Don’t Make Deals
It’s easy to tell yourself that if you do something unrelated to work now, you’ll make up the work that you’re supposed to be doing later. Unfortunately, this tends to snowball, and the next thing you know you’re behind on everything you’re supposed to be doing. Avoid making these sorts of deals; instead choose to do those things or have those conversations during your next scheduled break, just like you would do if you were still going in to work. If there’s something you want to do that won’t fit into a regular break, try to get your current tasks done BEFORE you take the time off instead of bargaining that you’ll wrap it up after.
6. Stay Connected
Isolation is difficult, especially if you’re used to working closely with your coworkers. You can fight this by calling them up, collaborating over video or even sending out daily emails or texts to check on everyone. Even though it’s not the one-on-one interaction you’re used to, the contact you have with your coworkers can still make a huge difference.