I have been working from home for over five years in some capacity. Working from home has been great for me especially as a single mother. I was able to take care of my children while also pursuing my career goals. Additionally, I can run errands before work begins, take my kids and me to medical appointments, and not waste time commuting 2+ hours a day. This is especially true in the DC area that is one of the metro areas with the worst traffic (Maryland, DC, and Virginia commuters trying to get to work during rush hour).
I wrote a blog about the benefits of working from home. It always surprises me that in 2019 there are still companies and leaders who are against allowing their employees to work from home. I had a few bosses who were like that. Luckily, I am also in a leadership role, and I had gained their trust. Therefore, they left my employees alone because we had a positive client relationship and they trusted the way I ran my teams. However, every week or so, I would get the talk on how it would more beneficial if all of us came into the office every day. There are benefits to being co-located. But, if it’s not a short-term project and team members get along, there is no reason that people can’t work from home even if it’s once or twice a week.
To successfully work from home, there are some things that you have to do to make sure that you are able to produce high-quality work without experiencing stress and burn out.
Have a Consistent Schedule
Even if meetings can be at different times and adhoc conversations happen, you will usually have an idea on how your day will go. Therefore, create a schedule that will work at least 75% of the time. I use Google Calendar. I have a calendar for my different life categories. This helps me color-code my calendar to make it easier to visually see my schedule.
When you are doing your Week in Review, you can see what is coming up in your calendar and how to schedule other goals and tasks like writing blog posts, marketing your blog, etc.
The only issue is trying to integrate Outlook Calendar with Google Calendar. For years, I tried to find a way to connect my the two. The ways I found to try to do this always were a bit clunky. This is when Microsoft released Microsoft Flow, which I think was their way to create something like IFTTT and Zapier. It seamlessly will copy what I add to my Outlook Calendar to a Google Calendar I call “Work/School.” I also do the same with my school calendar events (they use Outlook as well).
Here is the flow I created in case you are trying to do the same.
Have a Separate Area to Work
In the beginning, I worked in the living room. After a few months, it wasn’t working for me. This was especially true when the kids were on school break. I taught my kids since they were young to not disturb me when I was working. However, I am their mother and they still need me. Therefore, that didn’t always happen.
If you have a separate room, then great. If not, put a desk in your bedroom or in a place in your home that is not utilized. You should have a desk (of course) and a chair. One thing I will say about your office chair is to make sure that it supports your back. You can really mess up your body if you do not sit correctly. I got this Lumbar Support for my back and it has been amazing. It has helped support my back, and I am no longer getting neck strain or back pain.
If you have space, have a bookcase to keep important books, I have a tiny one next to my desk that has also become my nightstand. Decorate your space in a way that will make you happy and motivate while you work, as well as continue keeping your productivity high.
Learn to Focus
You have your to-do list and schedule and are sitting in your office. What next? Focus and don’t get distracted by cleaning the house, the kids, or social media. I use the Pomodoro technique and it has helped me tremendously. I have this app called Focus, but Tomato Timer is another good one. You work without stopping for 25 minutes, and then take a five minute break. After four-25 minute sessions, you take a longer break for ten to 15 minutes.
Working from home is about being disciplined with a hint of flexibility. You have to teach others to respect that you are working, and make sure that you do not get easily distracted. Listen to music, get a white-noise machine, and/or have a timer.
What are some ways that have helped you work from home? Please share them in the comments.