Working from home is something that has been thrown on many of us due to COVID-19, rather we want to work from home or not, it is in the best interest of our community. There are benefits to working from home such as a shorter commute time, but with kids home from schools working from home isn’t always an easy task. In turn, we decided to compile a list of helpful tips and tricks to help as you adjust to working from home for an extended period of time.
- Choose a dedicated workspace, ensuring your technology is properly set up and up to par.
Even if you had no intention of ever need to work from home after the pandemic, it’s important to have a dedicated workspace while you are required to work from home. It should be a space in which you enter and know where your focus belongs. That space can be something as simple as the dining room table, BUT it should be the same space every day.
- Establish a schedule and stick to it.
Structure your day like you would if you were in the office. Be clear about your working hours and start your day as early as possible. It is important to communicate your hours with anyone that is home with you.
If you have children, you are probably faced with the responsibility of teaching your children on top of your 9-5 job. This concept is completely overwhelming, which I personally understand as a mom of 3 elementary children. If you are placed in a position where you must work from home with the kids in tow, make sure your schedule involves them too. I am at my desk by 4:30 am everyday because it allows me to get two hours of work completed before my children ever wake up.
I understand this start of the day is extreme, BUT I have hours split up throughout my day to engage my children in educational activities, do yoga with them, or go on walks. Yes, my days are longer than they ever were before, but this schedule gives me the mental grace to be the parent that they need me to be as their world has been turned upside down as well.
- Make a Stop Light for family members or roommates.
This is the most genius idea I have heard of when it comes to working from home in a space where others live. John Meyer of Arise Virtual Solutions suggests hanging or taping colored construction paper on your office door. You can tape up the red light when you cannot be disturbed, green light when it’s okay, and yellow means to check first before entering. This method can be a genius way to ensure unwanted guests don’t make an appearance on your video conference calls.
(*gif/clip of British correspondent be questioned and children entering the room)
- Create work triggers for your brain.
What do I mean by work triggers? One’s morning commute helps train their brain to get into a work mode. Without that commute it is not as easy to do. For me, my work trigger is making coffee. As I am waiting for my coffee to percolate, I begin thinking about the things that need to be done that day to ensure success. Make your morning routine exactly like it would be if you are going to the office. If you showered in the morning before heading to the office, make sure you shower before starting your workday at your dining room table. Consistency and adaptation is key.
- Get dressed first thing in the morning, every morning.
Now, I don’t necessarily mean to encourage you to wear a suit to your home office for work. BUT I do want to encourage you to get up for the day and dress in something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to go to the store in. This includes wearing shoes. When you are barefoot or wearing slippers you are more relaxed, and your goal is to work as diligently as you would if you were in the office. At iStart, we advocate wearing shoes because it puts you in a work mindset.
- Start the day by creating a to-do list for the day, and prioritize your top 3 tasks.
The goal is to turn your to-do list into a to-done list, but you should also keep in mind that you must manage your expectations properly when it comes to what all you can accomplish when working from home. Figure out what your top priorities are every day, and then work through those no matter what situations arise. By creating your daily check list, you can ensure nothing falls in the cracks during your mental adjustment of working at home (especially if your kids and/or spouse is home with you.)
- Minimize your distractions.
We suggest that you log out of all social media platforms, and no, that’s not a threat. Let’s face it. When you work from home there is absolutely no one stopping you from constantly searching through all your social media channels. By logging out of social media platforms you will have a reminder that you need to get back on task when you go to check Twitter and are faced with login screen.
- If you have a co-worker or team, stay connected with them on a daily basis.
Embrace your webcam, no matter how awkward that may be to do. The iStart team has been meeting via video conference every morning at 9:30 am. Not only does it hold us all accountable to be working by 9:30 am, but it makes sure we all know what needs to be done that day.
Our team also utilizes a program from Microsoft called Teams, which is included with Office 365 subscriptions. It allows us to have both group and private chats on our screen. That way if you have a quick question you can ask the team with out waiting for an email reply or picking up the phone to call. I will be honest with you, in the world of social distancing, being able to stay connected and have even a small amount of interaction is helpful for all of us. Without a watercooler to stand around and discuss things, it’s important to find other ways to stay connected to your coworkers.
- Take clear breaks.
Yes, you heard me right. Get up and walk away from your computer. It can be so easy as a telecommuter to avoid breaks all together, but we want to encourage you to take small breaks such as making yourself a glass of tea or quickly walking around the block. Believe it or not, taking small breaks throughout your day leads to increased clarity and focus when you are at your desk.
- Choose a dedicated end time to close your workday.
This may not work every day, but we want you to strive to close your business at a certain time every day. You may be under the impression that working from home creates a better work life balance, but depending on how you handle it, that is merely an assumption. I recently read an article that compared working from home to being in a casino. You can get so caught up in your day that you lose complete track of time. This is unlike when you are at work and see your coworkers packing up and leaving for the day.
Try setting an alarm for when you hope to close shop for the day. This small reminder will help you know when it’s time to begin saving things and wrapping up your tasks.
Your day is going to be different as you work from home, but that is okay. You are doing good, and I hope with our suggestions you will do even better. Just remember, this pandemic is all situational and will eventually end.
Please know that we at iStart are still working with to push our businesses forward during this pandemic, and we would love to help you as well. To find out more, visit us online at https://okistart.org.