Before starting my career in fitness I spent 8+ years working from home as a freelance writer. I thought I’d share a few tips to help you adapt to your new at-home work life.
1) Be To-Do Focused, Not Time Focused
Unless you have constant online meetings, you are no longer a slave to the clock. The big pro is that you can start and stop working when you like, as long as you get things done. The con is that, for many people, getting things done will be harder than ever. To make it work, you must become a master of the to-do list.
Every evening, set 5-6 main to-do items for the next day. Next: divide them into morning and afternoon tasks. Next: break them down into smaller tasks that you can easily cross off or delete. Start your day by clearing as many emails from your inbox as possible, then hyper-focus (turn off your phone, crank some music, lock the door, etc) and get to work clearing to-dos.
I like the to-do app “Remember the Milk”. It is simple and gets the job done.
2) Reward Yourself for Getting Things Done
When you clear one or two of the big main tasks, reward yourself with a walk around the house, a snack, call a friend, or clear some more emails. Give yourself incentive to clear tasks. When you’ve cleared more than half your tasks for the day, give yourself a break. Don’t watch TV or waste it on IG – use your time to prep some food for dinner, go for a walk, workout etc. Get personal things done! This is the big benefit of working from home, so embrace it.
3) Rethink and Reframe Productivity
If you manage step 2 well, you’ll find that even if you spend less time working than usual, you’ll probably get the same number of tasks done. If you’re really mastering it, your productivity around the house will skyrocket versus the alternative of spending your day at your usual workplace.
People talk about work/life balance all the time, and now’s your time to get a taste of it. Fast-forward to 4pm with your to-do list (mainly) done and your chores (mainly) done and now you can spend the evening with your family instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
4) Flex Your Time, But Set Boundaries
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Working from home gives you the flexibility to work ALL THE TIME. If you let it, that is. In point 3 I mentioned (mainly) getting your to-dos done. The reason for that is that you’ll probably find that certain types of tasks, often the more creative or brainy ones, are best done after dark (maybe with a glass of wine). Embrace that! Consider a little late night work to be the price paid for all the cooking, working out etc you got done during the day.
The key is that you don’t let these tasks rule your life. There will always be another day full of to-dos, so don’t be afraid to let things roll forward a day. There will be no one around to micromanage you, so you need to be disciplined with your to-do list, and make sure you have a plan set for the next day before going to bed. That way you can wake up and rock & roll. No commute. No water cooler breaks. No one dropping by your desk to gossip. It’s just you and your list, so get to work!
5) BONUS ADVICE: Ditch Your Home Office
When most people buy a house they find the smallest, darkest, most depressing room in the house and call it an office. Unless you need to cut yourself off from your loud, mangy kiddos, consider it ditched. Alternate between different areas of the house after each to-do item to keep it fresh. Follow the sun to stay happy. Test out different rooms and options to see what works for different types of tasks. If you ARE hiding from your horde of kids, disregard this one.
Hopefully these ideas help a bit. It really takes a strong mindset shift when starting to work from home. You’ll find pros and cons to the new set-up, but hopefully the newfound benefits in terms of flexibility and home productivity will outweigh the stress of the change.
Good luck everyone!! If you have any questions or ideas email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.