Make sure you have what you need to work remotely
If you have started work from home or got a faraway job, you are likely looking to not spend time on a frustrating trip and stay in your sleepwear until noon. Enjoy this for the first day or two! But if you’re planning to work from home for a long period of time – or permanently – there are some ways to make sure that you can be productive in your business while still enjoying the benefits of not having to travel to the office.
What might work best for one person may differ from person to person. I have worked remotely in one form or another for the past five years and have found a routine that suits me, but the distance covered may vary – and that’s a good thing. I think the most important thing to remember is to find what helps you stay focused, while keeping your business separate from your home life.
Have a separate workspace
A separate workspace does not have to be a dedicated desk with a door closing which is not often an option in smaller living spaces. It should be a place which will mentally prepares you for a work situation, it can be a separate room, set a small desk in the corner of the living room, or a laptop at the end of the kitchen table. Infact, it should not be a place you would go to relax, like the hall in a sofa or bedroom.
If you find that you are more productive with a laptop computer on the sofa, create a shop there by all means. It may take a little trial and error to see which area of your house is most suitable for getting work done.
Have a routine
This was the hardest part to adapt when starting working from home: With devices that allow bosses and clients to constantly reach one another, you can end up working 24/7. Try to start work around the same time every day if you can and schedule breaks which must include meals around the same time if possible. I also advise you not to eat in your work area.
Ideally, you should try to spend time outdoors once a day, getting coffee or walking in the dog, so as not to make you mad.
Remote work can feel isolated at times, so as part of your routine, try to interact with your co-workers regularly (yes, introvert, even you). Chatting via messaging apps like Slack (even just saying “Hello!” When checking in in the morning) and holding meetings via Zoom or another video app are two quick and easy ways to stay informed. Whatever you communicate, don’t make email the only way you can interact with colleagues.
Finally – and this is the rule that I frequently breach – try to finish work at the same time every day. Obviously, there will be times when a late or project deadline needs attention after business hours. But in most cases, you can wait for a business email at 10 pm until the next morning to get a response.
See, one of the biggest selling points for working from home is that you can wear whatever you want. This is true, and on some days, especially if the weather is bad or if you don’t feel 100%, indulge a bit and wear comfortable sweat and socks. But to maintain a routine feel, try getting dressed and doing it at about the same time every day. This may sound a bit strange, but I find that in addition to jeans and a comfortable shirt, wearing shoes (instead of slippers or socks only) helps keep this feeling of work versus relaxing. I’m not talking about the most expensive shoes in your closet, sneakers or slippers, or other comfortable shoes that’s okay.
Know your body
You gracefully fit into a good office chair when you first started working from home, and you may find this a worthy expense; it’s hard to work if your back is bothering you or if you’re not comfortable. Certainly set aside time to get up and get away from your desk at regular intervals to stretch your legs (a fellow fan of regular sunset breaks) and make sure your work area is well lit so you don’t strain your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look away from your screen and focus your eyes on something 20 feet apart for 20 seconds.
No Children No family
Ha ha, I’m kidding. But in all seriousness, make sure that all of your family members (children, parents, husbands, and anyone else who has a key to the place) know that when you work, you are unavailable to help sort out minor disputes related to the juice box or engage in an inactive chat. Shared living spaces can become noisy, so if your workspace is not isolated from public areas, I highly recommend getting some noise-canceling headphones to signal to others that you will not feel annoyed and avoid being drawn into ongoing conversations to distract you (screaming to my well-intentioned husband who has talent For this) while you are on the deadline.
If you are going to try to do the chores while you work from home, be realistic about what you can do. Taking out the trash or checking the mail is a way to get away from your desk for a quick vacation, but it is not practical to try to beat this mountain of laundry once while you are around the clock.
Another suggestion: Don’t be a caller for friends and neighbors. Of course you should help in an emergency, but if you always go to deliver packages or to feed pets to people “because you are at home anyway,” this may become time consuming faster than just. Set limits – and stick to them – about when and where you are not.
Get the tools you need
You’ll get a lot of advice on investing in different business tools, such as a permanent office or a separate work computer. If you have the resources to do this and think it will help you (or better yet, if your company is going to compensate you for these expenses), find them. If your company requires you to work from home, find out what tools you will provide and what you will pay for it.
In addition to the noise-canceling headphones, the only thing you should have to set up a home-based business is a decent Wi-Fi connection, a computer that meets my needs (this will vary greatly depending on your job), and a reliable mobile phone. But if you end up working from home in the long run, you’ll discover what you need and what you can afford.
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