I have worked from home for over 25 years and for me at least it is where I do my most productive work. However, I recognise that this is evidently not true for everyone. Here are some hints and tips that I share in the hope makes working from home easier and more productive for you too.
Know when you are ‘at work’ – This is a mind-set challenge. Being in work-mode means you are focussed on work tasks and are not going to be disturbed by the ever present temptation of your personal and home life. This requires both good discipline and good time and expectation management with your friends and family. It is only fair that they should know when you are available and when you are not, and you need to behave accordingly.
Structure your day for success – I am a morning person. It is at this time of the day that I know I get most of my ‘great’ work done. I therefore schedule any work that requires the maximum concentration, focus and creative insight into my morning sessions. The afternoons are for more lighter concentration tasks such as admin, planning and personal development reading and writing. I am writing this at 4.30 pm this afternoon for example. I tend to be at my desk for around 08.30 and will work up to 11.00 and this is by far my most productive session in my day.
Schedule in breaks – Without colleagues to disturb you it is all too easy to sit locked in work for hours on end. I am lucky, I have a ‘mad as a box of frogs’ Springer Spaniel called Tilley and she will nudge me around 11.00 for her second walk of the day. The blast of fresh air, (I live in Northumberland it is rarely hot), clears the cobwebs, gets blood to the brain and can be a great time to take in a podcast or to make a colleague call.
Get your equipment and work space sorted – Technology is a great enabler of home working. Broadband speeds, video and team call technology all make it really easy to connect with colleagues and clients. Our Smart Mirror Coaching support is one of our fastest growing service areas as more and more people realise the value and convenience of remote coaching support. I invested in a high quality desktop computer, work table and ergonomically designed chair and I am lucky enough to have a dedicated work space in our house tucked away from many of the distractions such as the kitchen and the TV. If you cannot carve out such a space then at least make sure you are sitting comfortably before you begin!
Remember to Socialise – We are social animals so remember to schedule at least a few calls into your day or you will begin to feel very lonely. Carve out some time in the day to look at and talk to other human beings around work topics. In that time, remember it is OK to build some rapport before getting down to the business at hand.
Remember to stop! Having work mode set to ‘always on’ is simply not healthy. Put away your mobile and turn off the internally located work mind-set switch when you are tired and done for the day. Ploughing on with work past the point of fatigue is counter-productive, productivity plummets and quality of output decreases dramatically. Knowing when to stop is a key working from home skill, one that takes time to learn, but my advice is learn it quickly and learn it well otherwise you will pay the price in personal health issues. A price far too high to pay!