If you’ve been working in an office for much of your career, the idea of work-from-home (WFH) sounds like a dream come true. Working from the couch? No problem. A commute from your bedroom to your desk? No work pants needed!
However, as many people have now found out over these past weeks, there are pros and cons to working from home. Once the excitement wears off, you need to work. Without your office and with the new distraction of your family, roommates, or the fridge, you may find yourself struggling.
With a few adjustments, you can learn how to make working-from-home work for you. As someone who worked from home for more than 10 years, here are some of my top tips:
Follow a Balanced Routine
When you don’t have the structure of an office, it can be easy to start slipping out of a schedule. However, healthy routines are essential to making working from home both sustainable and productive.
Balancing periods of focused work and periods of rest tends to happen fairly naturally when you are working around others, whether you’re in an office, a construction site, or a restaurant. Working from home should include the focused “work sprints” that you need to fulfill your responsibilities, but it should also include time to relax and refresh. Make sure to create a work routine that reflects these healthy, balanced habits at home.
- To maintain your routine, consider scheduling in these boundaries:
- Get up at the same time each day (if possible, your regular time to get up for work).
- Try to include a healthy breakfast in your morning routine so you’re not tempted to take an early lunch.
- Start work at the same time each day.
- Make sure to take a lunch break (but time yourself to make sure it doesn’t go too long!).
- Schedule breaks a few times a day to drink a cup of coffee or tea and refresh your mind.
- Stop work at the same time each day.
Go to “Work”
When I started working from home, I found that I couldn’t concentrate when I tried to work from my couch or my dining room table. Eventually, I converted a room in my house into my “office”. As soon as I walked in that room, I was “at work”. This simple mind shift helped me separate my home time and work time, allowing me to gain focus and productivity.
Whether or not you are able to devote a whole room to being an “office”, consider implementing some sort of physical change in your setting when you start to work. Whether that means you clear the dining room table, put on your headphones, or enter a different room entirely, find something that can perceptibly shift your mental state into “working mode”.
Find Your Focus
It can be difficult to manage yourself when working from home, but luckily there are lots of resources to help you find your focus. Here at Alkaloid, we use the Pomodoro technique during our twice-weekly virtual work sprints to increase our focus. You can also consider a tool like RescueTime (one of our members!) to help you manage your time with their proven productivity training.
Ghosting For the Win
We know, it can be tempting to check social media when you don’t have the looming presence of your boss looking over your shoulder. However, that’s also how you get yourself lost down a procrastination rabbit hole. To block the temptation, mute any apps that can steal your attention during set hours, so no notifications rob you of your concentration.
Create a Work Haven
When my daughter was in elementary school, she understood that when I was on a call, she needed to let me work. However, I also tried to make a point of scheduling client calls when she was at school. I worked to find a balance between drawing boundaries and intentionally scheduling my time.
It’s important for everyone to separate home and work time, but it’s particularly true if you are working around roommates, spouses, or children. While working from home, proactively create a “work haven” by discussing your time and space needs with your household. Find what schedule works for everyone, and you will all be happier.
Adjust As Needed
Unless your work requires you to match the schedule of others, once you’ve done the above, feel free to evaluate and adapt these strategies. Take some time, go for a walk, get some space, and then go back to the drawing board.
Do you feel more creative in the morning? Shift that work to early hours. Have you determined your child is going to come find you every afternoon, no matter how many times you tried to establish boundaries? Schedule some play time. If you aren’t focused and don’t feel productive, don’t force it. Over time, you will find which work from home routine works best for you.
Working from home can be lonely and isolating, but a positive mindset can help! When you work from home, you may have an opportunity to alter your daily schedule (deadlines and meetings permitting, of course). So take advantage of the time to go on a walk or run when the weather is nice, or work on your porch to enjoy some fresh air while sending those emails.
Alkaloid Networks is here to help
Alkaloid Networks has launched free virtual events to help you adjust to working from home. Events will evolve as we determine what people find most useful.
- Accountability calls on Monday and Friday
- Work sprints on Tuesday and Thursday
- Curated topics on Wednesdays
When things go back to normal (whatever that will look like), it is highly likely that many will have the flexibility to work from home. We offer several memberships that can give you the much-needed space to be productive on those days. Until then, stay safe and enjoy working from home!