Working from home is an attractive proposition for many reasons such as time saved commuting, a better work/life balance and benefits to the environment such as fewer cars on the road. There are also lots of reasons that can make it challenging. While researching for this blog I found lists of advantages and disadvantages and, working from home most days myself, I agreed with pretty much all of it. Of all the tips, I believe that three important things really made a difference in the beginning, and that I maintain today.
- Get Comfortable
Consider this; every time you get behind the wheel in someone else’s car, what do you do? Adjust the seat and check the mirrors! To drive properly you need to make those adjustments so that the car’s operating equipment fits you. The same premise applies to your workspace. We spend a lot of time at our desks so it’s important to work in an ergonomically correct manner. This is why many companies now offer ergonomic assessments for their employees to ensure the workstation fits the employee. Mark Middlesworth, founder of Egonomics Plus, lists key benefits to practicing workplace ergonomics, which include, improved productivity and quality of work. There are also health benefits to having a well set-up work area such as reduced risk of repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. I found a great ‘how to guide’ at the Mayo Clinic www.mayoclinic.org that starts with the type of chair you are sitting in, discusses your posture and goes through the correct heights and placement of equipment and furniture. Take the time to check your home office and make sure your workstation is ready to ‘drive’.
- Get Organized
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that goes something like this; a cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind. Having an organized workspace is an important influencer of productivity. At the office you are motivated to keep your area neat and tidy through office culture, office policies and having an image to uphold. When working at home it is significantly easier to allow the clutter to creep in and simply be less organized because no one else sees your space. The problem with disorganization and clutter is that you end up losing time looking for things, the mess is a distraction and you are likely to increase your stress level. In order to make working from home work well for you, make sure you are doing the following; establish a home for everything, put like things together, put things you use often close at hand, clear out the clutter and strive to put things away. A simple example would be to have one container for pens and pencils that is close to where you write and make the effort of returning the pen to the container when you are finished working. Sounds overly simple but ask yourself if you have ever said, “Hold on a minute, I need to find my pen”. Being organized in your home office helps increase productivity, lower stress and make working from home just ‘work’ better.
- Get a Routine
One of the fundamental concepts we teach in our Own Your Time program is the importance of having a routine. In terms of productivity we not only need to determine our priorities and protect time to get work done, we also need to sleep and get exercise to function optimally. Establishing a daily routine when you work at home is very important since it is so easy to be distracted by things around the house. Whether you use an electronic format or start with a paper day planner, you’ll need to figure out what routine works for you. Creating clear boundaries for work time versus non work time is important. For example, I recently worked with a client who was figuring out how to protect time in her calendar to get major reports done while still being available for client and internal calls. She works from home and one of her distractions is her dog who needs to be walked twice daily. We established a morning routine for her that used the need to walk the dog as a break that separated an early morning focussed work period and a window of time for client and internal calls. Her reports get done in the morning while her dog has a predictable walk time and client calls start at 10am. The routine provides a little structure to set her up for success each day.
If the sound of ‘work from home’ appeals to you, remember that there will be challenges, but there will be great benefits too. If you take the time to set yourself up in a comfortable environment in order to work effectively and be productive, the benefits will win out over the challenges.
Want to learn more about this topic?
- Check out our Home/Work Spill-over & Purging video
- Contact us to learn more about our workshops and boot camps to help you build routines and get organized