Working from home is great until the cat vomits on your computer. And your neighbor, who you can only assume is building a time machine, lights all sorts of power tools and noisy machines across the street.
COVID-19 has resulted in remote working becoming a necessity rather than a luxury for many professionals. But which environment enables us to be more productive: the home office or the office office?
In the office, your coworkers are often the greatest danger in preventing you from doing real, headless work. They come by your desk, engage you in conversation, and invite you to lunch – at least that’s what I hear. The benefits are nice to have, but can be a challenge if you are easily distracted.
While family members can be a distraction in the home office, I find it easy for you to become your own worst enemy. Because without colleagues, you can let go of these annoying inhibitions. Nobody is watching in the home office. You may not feel the same peer pressure or collective obligation to get things done. (Plus, you don’t have to wear pants.)
Below, I’ve compiled a lot of great homework tips and tricks from some of my great colleagues.
How to work from home
- Communicate expectations with everyone who will be in your home.
- Take clear breaks.
- Interact with other people.
- Prepare meals the evening before.
- Choose a final end time.
- Eat and sleep.
- Talk to your employer.
- Join a remote-friendly company.
- Start a career as a freelancer.
- Start a home business.
1. Communicate expectations with everyone who will be in your home.
Of course you can work from home, but you still have “company”. Make sure all roommates, family members, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) respect your place during work hours. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you are home.
If you share the space with another adult who works from home, you may need to establish ground rules for meeting times, shared desks and chairs, and rest times.
CEO Sam Mallikarjunan shares how he manages to get his job done even when people are around.
“If someone else is at home when you are working, they just have to be aware that you are working again in your ‘office’ (in my case my signal to the family headphones is on) – even if it looks and feels like this, like hanging out at home. “
He continues, “It’s easy to get distracted by the many things that need to be done around the house during the day.”
2. Make clear breaks.
As a teleworker, it’s so easy to get distracted that you avoid breaks altogether. Don’t let the guilt of working in the building you sleep in keep you from relaxing for five minutes.
But instead of just opening YouTube and watching some convenience clips, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, or hang out with others who are also around the house.
Take Ginny Mineo’s advice. “You can recharge breaks, like preparing and eating lunch, to do better work. Don’t assume that you have to work at home 100% of the time to be more productive. “
3. Interact with other people.
When your office starts working from home, you will likely miss the casual social interactions with coworkers that you are used to all day. When you work from home, you don’t have the small talk and other activities that make every day in the office unique.
So what can you do Communicate.
Fight boredom and loneliness through frequent exchanges with other employees. Contact them via video chat through apps like Zoom and Slack or however your business communicates.
Remember: you work from home, not from the moon. Interacting with other people during the day is allowed, even if they are not your colleagues. It’s a good idea to see a different face during the day when most of your work day is lonely. So use your breaks to interact with others.
“Go outside and find someone to interact with – order your coffee, run an errand, whatever. It will keep you sane. “
– Corey Wainwright
4. Prepare the meals the evening before.
When you’re at home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a delicious breakfast and lunch for yourself, including chopping and cooking. Don’t waste precious minutes turning your meal into a workday – cook it the night before.
Preparing food in advance ensures that you can use your meal times to eat and not do any sideline activities that use up your energy at the desk better.
Digital marketing strategist Lindsay Kolowich adds: “Cooking at home is time you wouldn’t have spent preparing meals if you had been in the office that day, and I find the minutes can add up in the end. To soften that, I’m trying to mine Cook and prepare meals to be eaten the night before, just as I would for a day at the office.“
5. Choose a final end time.
You may feel that working from home leads to a better work-life balance, but be careful with this assumption.
Working from home can also feel like being in a casino – you can get so caught up in your activity in a relaxed environment that you lose track of time.
“When you work from home full-time (or regularly), it’s really easy to bring your work life into your personal life.” says Tyler Littwin.
He continues, “Keeping a limit is important to both halves of the equation.”
Instead of coworkers packing and leaving the office reminding you to do the same, set an alarm clock at the end of the day to indicate that your normal work day is coming to an end. You don’t have to stop exactly at this point, but knowing that the work day is technically over can help you save your work and finish for the evening.
6. Eat and sleep.
What’s the biggest benefit of working from home? One of the biggest perks for some people (me) is having full access to the kitchen.
As soon as I take a break, I automatically wander towards the kitchen for a few snacks.
An unhealthy diet can affect productivity and use up energy. When I switched to a healthier diet, I was able to function better and get the most out of my routine.
So eat well when working from home.
It is also important that you follow a proper sleep schedule. Save yourself the binge-watching of your favorite shows for the weekend. With the right nutrition for high energy levels and healthy sleep to refresh your body and mind, you can make your work from home successful.
7. Talk to your employer.
If you enjoy your current job and you don’t want to change it, finding a way to flip the position is a given.
One of the tips for doing this is to include the ability to get started remotely in your next advertising cycle. Talk to your boss often about your intention to turn around.
And if you’re not sure if your employer will agree to full remote work, talk about the option to work remotely a day or two a week. If you use the above tips for working from home and your boss sees how productive you are, they could give you more days to work from home.
8. Join a remote-friendly company.
If your work can be done remotely, but your current boss or organization doesn’t allow you to work from home, you may need to find a new job.
When looking for a job from home, you can use the same methods that you used when looking for your regular office job. This includes channels such as job boards, local job advertisements and social media platforms.
Job sites that run work from home include:
Some remote friendly companies are:
Check out these companies to see if you qualify to work for them remotely.
9. Start a career as a freelancer.
If your current job isn’t suitable for remote working, you can work remotely by starting your own business as a freelancer or consultant.
Depending on the nature of your current job, you can become self-employed during your employment.
The benefit of starting a freelance business while on the job is that it reduces the financial burden of a new business.
10. Start a home business.
Starting a home business is one way to enjoy remote work.
In contrast to other areas, certification and training are usually not prerequisites. Instead, research, a smart business plan, and choosing the right company are more important to the success of your business.
For more tips for working from home, check out the books featured in this Best Remote Workbooks article.
Tips for working from home
- Start early.
- Pretend you’re going to the office.
- Make your day like in the office.
- Choose a dedicated workspace
- Don’t stay at home.
- Make social media harder to use.
- Make a commitment to do more.
- Work when you are most productive.
- Save calls for the afternoon.
- Focus on a distraction.
- Plan ahead what you will be working on.
- Use technology to stay connected.
- Customize your music to suit the task at hand.
- Use laundry as a work timer.
1. Start early.
If you work in an office, commuting to work in the morning can help you wake up and feel ready when you get to your desk. However, at home, the transition from pillow to computer can be much more difficult.
Believe it or not, one way to be productive from home is to dive into your to-do list as soon as you wake up. Starting a project first thing in the morning can be key to making gradual progress throughout the day. Otherwise you will prolong breakfast and let the morning sluggishness wear down your motivation.
Lindsay Kolowich says: “When I work from home, I wake up, put a pot of coffee on and start work immediately – much earlier than normal working hours. I don’t start making breakfast until I hit a wall or need a break. I’m a morning person and I find that I can do a lot in the early hours of the morning, so it works really well for me. “
2. Pretend you’re going to the office.
The mental connection you make between work and office can make you more productive, and there’s no reason to lose touch when working remotely.
I know you love to work in your pajamas (me too) but the mere act of changing into something more serious will give you a signal to get work done all day.
Dressing up gives your brain a reason to dress up and it can keep you going during your work hours.
So, if you work from home, do whatever you would to prepare for an office job: set alarms, make (or fetch) coffee, and wear nice clothes.
Internet browsers like Google Chrome even let you set up multiple accounts with different toolbars at the top – for example, a toolbar for home and a separate toolbar for work.
Take to heart the words of HubSpot graphic designer Anna Faber-Hammond who said: “Get ready for the day and pretend you’re really working. Otherwise you might find yourself in bed again. “
3. Structure your day like in the office.
If you work from home, you are your personal supervisor and you can determine your working hours yourself.
However, without things like a personal meeting schedule to break up your day, you can easily lose focus or burn out.
To stay on schedule, segment what you will be doing and when for the day. When you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to change gears and start new tasks. Google Calendar makes this easy.
The structuring of your day like in the office also saves you crawling around. With this structure, working from home will not make your work interfering with your personal life.
“Are mornings to write while in the office? Use the same schedule at home. This structure will help you stay focused and productive.” – Ginny Mineo
4. Select a dedicated workspace.
Just because you don’t work in an office doesn’t mean you can’t have an office. Instead of snuggling up in your room or on the living room couch – spaces associated with leisure – devote a specific room or area in your home to remote work.
Regardless of the room or location, you have an area of the home to work in and stay engaged all day. And after you’ve decided on your dedicated workspace, make the most of it by making it quiet.
CEO Sam Mallikarjunan says: “Have a place you go specifically to work. It could be a specific table, chair, local coffee shop – a place that is consistently your ‘workspace’. It helps you get in the right mood. “
5. Don’t stay home.
Is your home office just not doing it for you? Take your work-from-home life a step further and get out of the house. Cafes, libraries, public lounges, and similar WiFi-enabled spaces can help you simulate the energy of an office so you can stay productive even when you’re away from an official work station.
Content Marketer Corey Wainwright, Comments, “I leave home to work and go to a store with real tables, chairs, and people. It helps simulate the work environment and remove the distractions I usually have at home, like the urge to finally clean up my room or do laundry, or watch TV. “
6. Make social media harder to use.
Social media was designed to make it easy for us to open and browse quickly. However, as teleworkers, this convenience can hurt our productivity.
To counter the usability of your social networks during work hours, remove them from your browser shortcuts and log out of any account on your phone or computer.
You might even consider working primarily in a private (or, if you’re using Chrome, “incognito”) browser window. This will ensure that you stay signed out of all of your accounts and that the word you enter is not autocompleted every time you search the web. It’s a guarantee that you won’t be tempted to take too many social breaks during the day.
Many also found it helpful to turn off social media notifications from home during work hours.
Alec Biedrzycki, Product Marketer at AirTable, says: “I’m removing all social networks from my toolbar bookmarks … you can suck yourself in without knowing it, so leaving out of those networks keeps me updated.”
7. Make a commitment to do more.
Projects always take longer than you initially think. Because of this, you will often get less done than you set out to do.
Just as you are encouraged to overestimate how many man hours you will spend on something, so should you overestimate how many things you will do during the day.
Even if you miss your goal, you will still end this day with a solid list of to-do items posted under Completed.
“On days when I work from home, I tend to outperform what I will deliver that day. Even when I feel the urge to do something else, I know that I’ve already undertaken a certain amount of work on my team. “- Corey Wainwright
8. Work when you are most productive.
Nobody sprints through their work from morning to night – your motivation will naturally rise and fall as the day progresses. However, when you work from home, knowing when these ups and downs are happening and planning your schedule accordingly is even more important.
To get the most out of your most productive periods, save your more demanding tasks for the moment you know you are in the right headspace for them. Use slower times of the day to get rid of the simpler logistical tasks on your plate.
Verily Magazine calls these assignments “little wins,” and they can help you build your momentum for the heavier projects that await you later.
Product designer Brittany Leaning says of her routine: “For me, the most productive times of the day are usually early in the morning or late at night. I recognize that and try to plan my day accordingly. Besides, music that drives me to get up doesn’t hurt. “
It is your responsibility to know when you are most productive and to build your work schedule around the times of maximum productivity.
9. Save calls for the afternoon.
Sometimes I’m so tired in the morning that I don’t want to hear my voice anymore – let alone speak to others.
You shouldn’t have to take too much time in the morning to be productive, but you can take a little more time before working directly with others.
If you’re struggling to develop a decent work schedule as a teleworker, start the lonely morning chores.
Save your phone calls, meetings, Google Hangouts meetings, video calls, and other collaborative work when you officially “wake up”.
Senior Marketing Director, James Gilbert, advises you to “use the morning hours to pull off serious projects without distractions and to save any calls or virtual meetings for the afternoon.”
10. Focus on a distraction.
There’s a phrase out there that says, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.”
The bizarre but true rule of productivity is that the busier you are, the more you do.
It’s like Newton’s law of inertia: whoever is in motion stays in motion. When you are at rest, you stay at rest. And busy people move so quickly that they have the momentum to do whatever is on their desk.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find things to help you get that level of busyness at home – your motivation can fluctuate so easily. HubSpot’s chief marketing manager Pam Vaughan suggests focusing on something that keeps your rhythm going (in her case, it’s her daughter).
She says, “When I work from home, my 20 month old daughter is at home too. It doesn’t seem intuitive, but because I have to manage to take care of her and keep her happy and entertained, while I do my job. ” , the pressure helps me stay focused. When she’s napping or chatting, I go into a super productive work mode.
My daughter’s ‘distraction’ (I mean that in the most loving way) means there is no way I can succumb to some of the other common distractions of home. “
11. Plan ahead what you will be working on.
Spending the time figuring out what you are going to do today can dissuade you from actually doing these things. And you’ve scheduled your to-do list so recently that you can be tempted to change your schedule in a snap.
It is important that you can change your agenda if you need to, but it is equally important to stick to a schedule that outlines each task before you begin.
Try to solidify your schedule the day before so it feels official when you wake up the next day to start.
“Plan your week in advance to optimize it for the environments you are in.” – Niti Shah
12. Use technology to stay connected.
When you work from home, you may feel cut off from the bigger business of your company.
Instant messaging and video conferencing tools like Slack and Zoom can make checking in with other remote workers easier and reminding you how your work is adding to the bigger picture.
Investing in the right technology is also important. For example, a poorly performing router can dampen your enthusiasm for work, so it is better to invest in a high-performance router.
CMO and former HubSpot employee Meghan Keaney Anderson notes: “At HubSpot, we use Slack to have remote conversations, Trello to organize ourselves by priorities, and Google Hangouts plus Webex to Make remote meetings more productive. Finding the right stack of support tools for your style of work makes a huge difference. “
13. Customize your music for the task at hand.
During the week, music is the soundtrack to your career (cheesy, but admit it, it’s true). And at work, the best playlists are different playlists – you can listen to music that matches the energy of your project to increase your productivity.
Video game soundtracks are great for this. In the video game, the lyric-free music is supposed to help you focus. it only makes sense that it helps you focus on your work.
Do you want other genres that spice up your routine and make you feel focused? Take her from startup marketer Ginny Mineo, who shares her work music preferences below.
“When I scour my inbox I need intense and catchy rap / R&B (like Nicki Minaj or Miley Cyrus) coming through my headphones, but when I write, Tom Petty does the trick. Finding out what motivates music and focusing on different tasks (and then sticking to these playlists for those tasks) has completely changed my productivity at WFH. “
14. Use laundry as a work timer.
You may have heard that listening to just two or three songs in the shower can help you save water. And it’s true; Starting and ending a few of your favorite songs in a row can be a great reminder of how long you’ve been in the bathroom and reduce your washing time.
Why address that? Because the same general principle can help you stay focused when working from home. But instead of three songs from your music playlist, do your laundry instead.
Doing laundry is a built-in timer for your home. So use the time to start and finish something on your to-do list before changing the load.
Committing to one task during the wash cycle and another during the drying cycle can help you work smarter on tasks that technically require you to tinker with all day. And knowing there is a timer makes it hard for distractions to derail your work.
People Ops Manager, Emma Brudner, notes “I usually do laundry when I’m working from home too, and I set myself mini deadlines that suit me when I have to go downstairs to change loads. When I am working on an item, I tell myself that I have to get to a point before the end of the wash. Then I’ll set a different goal for the dryer. “
Stay productive while working from home
While you may miss the office, working from home full-time can be good for you.
For one thing, you don’t have to worry about commuting every day and you can take better care of your loved ones by being there more often.
The tips we provided for working from home can help you get the most of your new routine. Try a few and you may find that you can work just as productively from home as you are at the office.