How many of you work from home at least once a week or more? I WFH every Thursday and I have to say what a lovely gift that is. When I joined my company a few years ago, I learned of their weekly telework policy and was pumped. I remember thinking, “you mean I get to work from home in my sweats?!” It was a dream – and it still is!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that working from home is a privilege; it’s one not everyone gets to enjoy and it comes with a lot of responsibility. It can be very easy to get distracted and bounce around from tasks, trust me I’ve been there. Not having someone looking over my shoulder took some getting used to. After trial and error, I finally hit my productivity stride and found a way to make my WFH days essentially mirror my work days, just in cozier clothing.
I started consciously creating habits that set me up for success. I also came to the realization that if I at one point struggled to effectively work from home, others likely have as well. With that, I’m sharing the top tips that have empowered my work and made me an even more efficient employee, regardless of my work location.
TIP 1: CREATE A DESIGNATED WORK SPACE
When I say designated work space, I say that loosely. It could literally be anywhere – your couch, counter, kitchen table, desk, a coffee shop – just name it and set it up! Make sure the space has everything you need. You know, like your to-do list, water bottle, coffee, pens, etc. Bring it over and set it up. This will help you avoid constantly getting up and grabbing things, which only opens the door to more distractions. Ya feel me?
TIP 2: WRITE OUT YOUR TO-DO LIST
I’m a huge list nerd in general, so this one is a no-brainer to me but for many to-do lists are not an intuitive task tracker. I highly recommend writing your priorities out for the day; it’ll keep your tasks top of mind omitting the need to dig for what’s next.
TIP 3: DO THE HARD STUFF FIRST
Are there any other procrastinators out there? I find that I can be a natural procrastinator and it’s something I have to actively work against. My instinct is to push off whatever task is nagging my brain to a later time. To counteract that I push through and do the “hard” things first when I have the most mental clarity. If I wait until later, like my brain wants me to do, the hard things will be even harder. We’ve all been there! There’s a Mark Twain quote I heard that speaks to this perfectly, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” So let’s eat that damn frog!
TIP 4: SET BREAK TIMES
Now this might be the most imperative thing for working effectively from home. Every 1-2 hours, give yourself 10-15 designated minutes to recharge and do something non-work related. Unload the dishwasher, fold a load of laundry, sit in silence, stretch, eat lunch – whatever it is, designate it. You’ll feel thankful for the break and will be more productive following it. What this also does is limit your distractions during “work time” which can often spiral. You go to unload the dishwasher, but then you end up spending time on your phone and before you know it you’ve wasted a lot of precious time, like I said spiraling. We’ve all been there, but setting designated break times can really help mitigate that.
TIP 5: LIMIT DISTRACTIONS
Yeah, yeah… the hardest on the list. At home, especially, there are dozens of distractions calling your name at all times. For me, my phone is the biggest culprit. I get on to check Instagram then end up on Twitter and Snapchat. A recent change I’ve made is putting my phone in a different spot then checking in during my break time – eh, see where I’m going with this? That goes for all types of activities pulling us from what we should be doing; fit it into a break time and see how it helps your productivity.
TIP 6: PLAN FOR MOVEMENT
Again, this one fits within the confines of the “designated breaks” tip but studies show movement helps increase your alertness and energy levels. Take a few minutes and walk to pick up lunch or coffee, stretch, do a couple downward dogs, bang out some jumping jacks – whatever it is, I highly recommend moving around at some point. Not only will it help break up your day, but it’ll also power you through the remainder of it.
TIP 7: LISTEN TO MUSIC OR PODCAST
Music or external noise can distract people – if this applies to you, skip this tip. If this doesn’t apply to you, keep reading. Throughout the day, I pop on my favorite podcasts and playlists. The tunes help break up the silence and give quality background noise. Personally, I love this. Here’s the playlist I can’t get enough of right now: Pop Chillout via Spotify.