When a career offers you the flexibility to work from home, you take it. But contrary to popular belief, working from home doesn’t mean Netflix binges and unicorn frappuccinos. When I tell people I don’t always work from an office, I often hear things like, “Oh, you don’t have a real job” and “So you don’t really work.” I’m here to tell you that those statements aren’t true.
Working from home is an art and it’s not for everybody. With office cultures becoming more accepting of unconventional work arrangements, learning to effectively work from home is a valued skill. Whether you work remotely full-time or only a few days a week, here are a few tricks of the trade that serve me when I’m working from home.
Create Your Space
Having a designated space to actually sit and do your work is key. You need a place that when you sit down, you know it’s time to work. This space will look differently for most people. Kitchen tables, outdoor patios, spare bedrooms with a desk, whatever space, make it your own. Ensure you have all the tools you need in reach when you sit down to work, like your planner, pens, notebook, and whatever else you may need. Make your space a convenient place to set up shop for the day. If you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated office space at home, personalize it! Hang pictures that inspire you and surround yourself with colors that bring you joy. Create your space where you can do your best work every time you turn your laptop on.
Set A Schedule
This is arguably the most crucial piece of the puzzle when you’re working from home. If you plan to work from home without setting a schedule, the next thing you know you’ll be sleeping in until 9 and binging on Netflix by lunch. Coming into the work day with a clear outline of your day and your work hours will ensure you stay focused and you’re working efficiently.
If you work on a team, setting a clear schedule also means communicating to your team members what your working hours are. Let them know if you’re planning to log-on a little earlier so you can sign-off early for a birthday dinner. Make sure to have discussions with your team or your boss about what they expect from your when you’re working remotely. Talk about when they expect you to be available and what hours they plan on working, in case you need to collaborate on projects or call them with a question. Communication and structure when working remotely are key.
Have A To-do List
Hand-in-hand with setting a schedule is having a to-do list. A list of your tasks and priorities will help you keep on track and in line with your schedule. It’s good to get in the habit of making a to-do list in the morning or even the night before. Starting the day with tasks already in mind will help to not throw off your mojo when you sit down to work in an environment that’s not your standard office setting. It’s easier to stay focused on tasks when you already know what they are.
Something else to keep in mind is to respect your own time and end your work day when you planned to. It’s so easy to work longer hours to check more items off your to-do list because there is less distraction, no time wasted commuting, and you’re in your zone in your athleisure outfit instead of a pencil skirt. But if you say you’re signing off at a certain time, make sure to do it. A clear delineation of work time and personal time is necessary when working from home.
Take Time To Enjoy Your Morning
You don’t need to immediately hop out of bed and start working. Just because you can start working earlier doesn’t mean you have to. It’s nice to have the flexibility to start your work day earlier because you don’t have to commute and look like a functioning member of society but remember to take time before your work day starts to have a moment to yourself. Use the time you’d normally use to get ready and drive to work to go for a run, do some chores, read a book, or work on your side hustle. You’ll feel more accomplished and productive during your work day when you know you’ve already crossed personal to-dos off your list.
Make An Attempt At Getting Ready
A huge perk of working from home is not having to get ready and decide on an outfit in the morning. While it may be tempting not to shower and lounge around in your sweatpants all day, I promise you’ll feel more productive and like a functioning member of society if you actually shower and “get ready” before you start working. At the very least, change out of your PJs into athleisure wear. This helps set the tone that it’s time to work and I guarantee you’ll be more alert and ready for the day.
Remember To Move
When you’re in an office, you’re most likely getting up to talk to people, walking to grab a coffee, or going outside get lunch. When you’re working from home, you definitely won’t be moving around as much (and I have the FitBit activity to prove it). So don’t forget to get up and move throughout the day. Do a lap around your house or take a 10-minute walk outside. On days where my schedule is more flexible, I’ve been known to go for a run during lunchtime. It makes a world of difference to get your blood flowing. Your productivity will soar if you take regular movement breaks. I mean you can only stare at as screen for so long before you start to go crazy.
Do Your Best To Avoid Distractions
Imagine all the things you can do in your house: watch TV, read a book, work out, infinitely scroll through social media, become one with your couch. Now imagine not doing any of those things for at least eight straight hours. Working from home doesn’t sound so like much fun anymore, does it?
It takes a lot of willpower to not check your phone during conference calls because you know that no one can see you, but you have to remember you’re at work even though you’re physically at home. If you’re in a room where you can actually close a door to distractions, then do it. If you have to keep your phone in a drawer, do it. The first few times your work from home may seem like fun and games, but you’ll realize quickly when you’re to-do list starts growing that there is actual work to be done and you need to focus. So start working out those willpower muscles.
Do you love the idea of working from home but your current employer doesn’t allow it? Maybe it’s time to consider a career change.
This post was originally written for and published by Six Degrees Society. Six Degrees Society is a women’s networking group that hosts a diversified series of monthly programming for millennial young professionals. To learn more about Six Degrees Society, visit www.sixdegreessociety.com.