- Working hours – some people prefer a fixed routine, others enjoy the flexibility of taking time off during the day and working when they are at their peak – which might be late evening for example. Know yourself!
- Keep your relationships in balance – working from home can lead to 24 hour working, or at least 24 hour thinking about work, which is not healthy however much you love your work. So set some rules and communicate lots with your partner if you have one.
- Distractions – if you’re prone to them, set up a quiet place to work, with a desk that is dedicated to Work Only, without kids or a view of interesting things happening outside. Maybe with quiet music to block out distracting sounds from outside. Consider a free internet service called Focusmate where you pair with someone else (a stranger!) – declare your objectives for the session, and then with webcams you watch each other work. Creepy but effective!
- You can block all social media and even emails, or you can be selective, for example you can use Newsfeed Eradicator (a Chrome extension) to block the news feed of facebook but still be able to use it for messages, events, groups and notifications. Certainly switch off the bing / visual notification of new emails arriving. Only check your email 4-6 times a day.
- Don’t try to work from your bed, or without getting dressed. Apart from the possible embarrassment when using Skype/Zoom with the camera accidentally on, you won’t feel professional or dynamic. Some people even put a suit on to work from home. Try it out and see what works for you.
- Get some exercise, before during or after your day. I find that a ten minute break to walk around the block, or chop up some logs in the garden, leaves me invigorated and ready to work much better.
- Try the Pommodoro Technique where you work in bursts and then take a short break. There are websites which will time your work and your breaks for you. Some people love this disciplined way of working where you always have a target coming up; the game is to finish a piece of work before the next break.
- Tech – you’re on your own so you’ll have to learn about re-installing printer drivers and changing cartridges, re-starting wifi hubs, connecting to Zoom, lost passwords, etc. When the expert shows you, or when you finally work it out, write it all down so you can do it next time. Get good tech – a good printer, a fast laptop, a nice mouse, a cordless headset for the phone etc, so you can be maximum productive. And I like at least three screens on my PC, because then you can have one with Skype/Zoom or your emails open, one with a Word doc, and one with your files list or Evernote – or one with Word and one with Powerpoint or Excel. Screens are cheap and well worth having several of!
- Communicate LOTS with your remote team, otherwise you’ll feel lonely and out of touch and they’ll forget about you, and work will get duplicated or not done. Teams need a certain amount of maintenance or they drift apart. Use a mixture of communication styles with colleagues and clients, not just email. Phone calls and Skype /Zoom are both great in their different ways.
- When you work from home it becomes all the more important to agree outcomes with your boss, rather than activities. So instead of “I’ll do 4 hours of phone calls” it’s “I’ll contact 30 customers” or “I’ll get 5 appointments booked”. Otherwise you’ll be able to do very little and get away with it, which sounds great, but also your boss might accuse you of that when you’ve actually been working really hard. Get some outcomes agreed and then you can work at your own pace, your boss can relax, and there is an incentive for you to work smart and be more efficient.
PS How to be happy when you’re stuck at home? How to use your time usefully? How to avoid getting bored? Feeling a sense of wasting a month of two while everything is on hold? Answers here:
For more information on happiness and success in your career, check out my Life Skills Collection