Tough Love Tuesday: How To Work From Home
When I tell people I work from home, the typical response is “That’s so awesome! I wish I could work from home!!”. I won’t downplay that being able to work from home is great, but it’s still not as luxurious as it seems. I will be the first to admit that it can be tough to schedule my day because the lines of work and play are blurred beyond recognition a lot of the time. I'm lucky to have a separate space to work in my apartment, but I'm literally facing my boyfriend's Transformers collection, and I have found myself mindlessly staring at them throughout the day. So, here are a few tips for working from home without getting distracted.
Never work from your bed
Seriously. Ignore all the Instagrams you’ve seen of bloggers in bed with plush, white sheets, a MacBook Air, and a perfect matcha latte with the caption “Mondays aren’t so bad when you work from bed.” It’s all a lie. Get out of bed. A more professional person will say immediately make your bed and get dressed like you are leaving to go to work every day. There are days when it’s 3pm, and I am still in my pajamas. I’m still working on that part. I definitely agree that you should start your day like you are going off to your office, even if your "office" is your desk across from your bed or your kitchen table.
Keep work in one place
I always do work at my desk. I never work on my couch and definitely not my bed (see #1). Desk = work time. Even if you don’t have walls separating your work area from the rest of your home, just knowing that you have a designated workspace keeps your mind in work mode and helps you not get distracted from the rest of your place. Every time I work in the living room, I start thinking about things I could be doing in my home.
Make your workspace a place where you want to be
I share an office with my boyfriend's robot collection, which may not have been the vision I had for my ideal home office. At any rate, I made my side of the office an inspiring place to work since I would be spending a good portion of my week there. When my desk and surrounding areas are messy, I instead spend my work time cleaning up when I should be working. When you're done with your workday, tidy up your space so when you come back the next day, you'll be greeted with an area ready for work.
Organize your day
A great morning starts the night before. Knowing what you have to the next day takes away the pressure, and you aren't scrambling at 9am to figure out what to do. Make a list of what needs to be done with your highest priority item at the very top of the page and get that done first. Emails can wait. You can go through and see if there is anything pressing that needs immediate action; otherwise, the rest can wait. Remember: Emails are someone else's to-do list. Also, be sure to schedule the time to focus on yourself before you start work. Eat breakfast, take a walk, or hit the gym before you get started in your workday.
Work on one thing at a time
Working from home or not, we all get distracted. Try to work on only one project at a time. Work will never get done if you’re trying to finish a report while editing a batch of photos at the same time. The distractions are heightened when working from home because now you can add in home tasks in the mix. You’re finishing a report, editing photos, and now organizing your closet at the same time. Focusing on one job at a time will make crossing off that item off your to-do list much more satisfying.
Pomodoros are your friend
I’ve started using a Pomodoro app to track when I’m working. Pomodoros are 25-minute periods of you doing ONE specific task. You can estimate how many pomodoros it will take to finish your task. For example, I think it will be two pomodoros to finish editing the latest The Branding Edit photo session (actually it was three). Once it’s done, you have a five-minute break to do whatever you want like get a cup of tea, stretch, or look at Facebook. Once five minutes are done, you’re back to work. I use the app Pomodoro Time to track my work. I like it because I make it a little game to see if I can beat the clock (but don’t half-ass your work just to finish before time is up).
Work on location
Go to your favorite cafe with lots of outlets and post up for the day. I used to spend up to six hours at a cafe just getting work done. Let’s be honest. Working from home can get very lonely. Being around other people is nice. Maybe get together with another friend who works from home and work with each other once a week. Or, join a coworking space if there is one in your area. If you have the space for it, maybe open your own home to others for a coworking session.
Every day is a learning experience on how to have better working experiences at home. Do you have any tips on working from home? Leave them in the comments below!