Work from Home? Read these 5 tips on how to do it better.
Some professionals view having a job that allows them to work from home as the ultimate gig, but those of us who do it on a daily basis know that it can be harder, and different, than it looks. If you’re one of the lucky ones, read below on how to excel in your own space.
So you found the perfect work-from home job? Maybe it’s a medical billing job. Or maybe a technical job like search engine evaluation. No matter the job, here are some important tips to being successful when working from home.
1. Create Structure.
I know, I know. Isn’t one of the main perks of working from home the fact that you are free to do as you please with your schedule? While it is, I’ve found that being given complete freedom, the key to working effectively is to create structure for myself. Find what works best for you. You may have to do some trial and error to figure this out, but once you get it, discipline yourself to stick to it.
When I first started out after college, I worked for a small business. Our days began around 9 a.m. (or whenever we rolled into the office) and I loved to wake up at 6 a.m. to hit the gym before work. Once I moved on to the corporate world and reported to work closer to at 8 a.m., I hated the thought of having to wake up at 5 a.m. and therefore, my work out routine suffered.
Now that I work from home and can plan my day as I please. Initially I thought I would wake up and hit the gym first thing, but after a couple of months of hitting snooze and sleeping in, I discovered that I wasn’t actually motivated to wake up for a work out. But I am motivated to wake up and work.
So now my days usually go like this: Wake up at 6 a.m. Begin working around 7 a.m. Hit the gym for a mid-morning class or after work with my husband. Finding this structure has helped me feel like I’m getting a head start on the day by being in front of my computer an hour earlier than most, and it has allowed me to create a mid-day break or way a check out at the end of the day with a sweat session that I am rarely tempted to skip as it has become a stress reliever.
2. Have a door on your office, if at all possible.
We currently live in a one bedroom apartment, so this is not a possibility for me. But when our lease is up, I can assure you that we’ll be considering moving to a two bedroom, simply for the fact that it would be so mentally helpful to get away from my office when I’m not working. By having a door that can be opened in the morning and closed at the end of the day, you help yourself compartmentalize your life a bit and not be tempted to work 24/7. I didn’t think this would be a problem for me…until it was.
I began to notice myself wanting to “do just one more thing” or continue working while my husband cooked dinner instead of spending precious downtime together. Now when my husband comes home, I mentally tell myself that it’s time to be done for the day. If I have a project that really needs tended to before they day is through, I’ll let him know (for accountability reasons) that I have to sneak back to it for an hour at the end of the night, but I really try to keep that as an exception.
3. Play good music.
I’m not one of those people who can work without good tunes, so one of the first things I do when I get to my desk in the morning is to pick out my selection of the day. My medium of choice these days is Songza, because you can select already compiled playlists based on your mood, activity or genre. A few of my favorites are: Mellow Indie, Your Spring Fling and 2014 Festival Headliners.
4. Take intentional breaks every two hours.
This is the hard for me to abide by, but luckily my dogs make it a bit easier. Sitting for more than two hours straight isn’t healthy, so I try to do something for 15 minutes every two hours that will take my mind off of work and help me reset. My favorite break activities are: switching over the laundry, emptying out the dishwasher, Face Timing my sister (who stays at home with my sweet two year old nephew – bonus), calling my husband, family or a friend to check in, checking the mail and walking the dogs .
5. Know when your energy levels are at their peaks and pits.
I get my bursts of energy in the morning and I slump around 2-3 p.m. I get another energy burst around 4 p.m. So I plan to do my VIP items as early as possible. Generally, I make a daily list of the top three things that need to happen. This is different from my ongoing to do list because it restricts me to prioritize three, and only three items that must be done. At the end of the day, if I’ve completed these items I feel accomplished, even if I see that my to do list is still overflowing. And let’s be real – when is it not?