Remote working and working from home are two completely different concepts. Remote working is working from home, but also coworking spaces, shared offices, public working spaces and more. Allowing you to work without being in direct face-to-face contact with your employer, boss or client. Homeworking is one step harder, as you do it in the same location and places where you do non-work related activities, and try to relax from work and forget work.
I’m doing remote work for more than 10 years now, and often working from home, so I can say I have quite some experience. Remote working is not that difficult, and it requires a set of tools. See my other post with more info and tips about remote working.
Homeworking, however, is requiring a mental switch and requiring extra tricks. In this post, I give an overview of the things that helped me to improve working from home.
- Having a dedicated place to work. Don’t work just from the couch with the TV playing in the background, or in the living room with other people running around. Try to have a fixed and isolated spot where you can fully concentrate. If you are active on social media, I’m sure you saw the examples where people even indicate with bike-lights if people are allowed to enter the home-office or not.
- Clean desk: Clean desk sounds like a corporate thing to avoid that company-sensitive papers and data are stored securely and cannot be lost, but it helps in being more efficient and focused. So let try to have a clean desk, only things that are required and nothing else. Clean and empty the desk when you stop working, so you start with a clean start next time.
- Invest in your desk and chair: This may be hard to do with the current lockdown, but add this on your todo list. Having a great chair is super important for your health and increases focus and productivity. I have the Ikea BEKANT standing desk of Ikea so I can switch convert my desk in a standing desk.
- Try to define a daily routine. When working from home, it is a common pitfall to do other small tasks while working. Think about doing quickly the dishes, starting a washing machine so it can do its job while you are working, vacuuming the living room, doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher machine,… Those are all short jobs but will decrease your productivity. Try to make a routine, a fixed schedule where you define when you want to be working, and when you take breaks to do those kinds of tasks.
- Keep a ToDo list with clear objectives that you want to do today, and this week. Be sure to keep this ToDo list doable. It’s always more motivating that you can end with an empty ToDo list, than an over-optimistic list, with items you keep dragging day by day. Use a todo-list system with a backlog (for all items you want to do one day, but not right now, but ensuring you don’t forget those), and a clear selection of what you want to achieve today. I’m using Things3 from Cultured Code for this, on Mac & iOS as I often think about new things while I’m not behind the computer.
- Try to evaluate and adjust the ToDo lists on week base (making a schedule for the next week, based on priorities). Review your next day quickly before sleeping so you know what your attention points should be for the next day.
- If you fail to work efficiently with a ToDo list, or how to maintain them, check methods and stuff like Getting Things Done.
- Ensure to have breaks. We are not made to work 8hours in one block, and expecting to be fully focused and productive. Take breaks, but control those breaks. A break is not just watching videos online, reading newspapers, scrolling 9Gag or social media. Try to go away from your computer and mobile devices. Take a walk, and do maybe quickly the dishes while the coffee machine is heating up 😉
- Avoid distractions. Try to reduce distractions as much as possible. Having your own, fixed, isolated office is a big win, but it also reduces distractions from the internet. Disable notifications. Don’t keep your email program running in the background (unless required for your job of course), but do check your emails periodically and process the emails then. I really love and use the InboxZero principle. Having cats can be a huge distraction to get things done… can you spot my 3 cats?
- Sport/Go for a walk. Try to get out of the house. Do some groceries (if possible), go for a walk, go for running a bit. It will help to be more productive and to clear your head. We are not made to be 24/7 locked inside. See this Wall Street Journal article for some ideas.
- Direct sunlight. Try to have direct sunlight in your home office, if possible. This will boost your efficiency and motivation for sure.
- Maintain your social contacts. While working from home, especially when you are not leaving your home except for groceries, time can fly and you can be isolated quickly. Be sure to give your friends a ring, a text and keep in touch!
- Stay hydrated! As you are working from home and alone, there is no group pressure to have a group coffee break. Be sure to have a big glass with water at your office and stay hydrated at all times. It’s really required for focus and productivity.
This list is the main item I keep in mind when I’m working remotely, and especially when working from home. Of course, there is no list that works for everyone as this is personal and based on your situation, but I hope this helps in being more productive, motivate and efficient in working from home 💪
Please let me know if there is anything you are thinking of that’s missing here. Together we are much stronger 😎
As a bonus, a last photo of the 4 cats 😼