Working from home is the new normal for many people around the world.
Why shouldn’t it be? It allows employees to work where they’re most comfortable, in a way and time that helps them achieve peak productivity and happiness.
But here’s the thing: adapting to a work-from-home arrangement can be difficult—especially if you’ve spent years toiling away in bland office spaces. That’s why I wrote this post!
Keep reading to learn nine essential tips you can use to work from home effectively.
Setting Up Your Workspace
When it comes to working from home, you need a dedicated workspace. Once you have one, it will be much easier for you to stay focused and productive. Just make sure you set up your workspace the right way. The two tips below will help you build a stellar home office:
1. Choose the Right Location
Where will your home office be? Consider the following factors to pick the perfect spot:
- Quietness: Find a place in your home that is away from high-traffic areas and noisy distractions. This will help you concentrate and avoid interruptions during the day.
- Natural Light: If possible, position your workspace near a window to benefit from natural light, which has been shown to boost workers’ moods and productivity levels.
- Ergonomics: Ensure your workspace is set up ergonomically, with a comfortable chair that promotes good posture and an appropriately-sized desk to minimize discomfort.
- Separate Space: Dedicate a specific room or area to your work. This separation between your personal and professional life will enhance work-life balance.
2. Organize Your Workspace
Now that you’ve chosen the perfect location for your home office, it’s time to organize your workspace. Doing so will improve your focus and efficiency. Here’s how to do it:
- Declutter: Begin by decluttering your desk. Remove unnecessary items, while keeping essentials within reach. A tidy workspace will reduce distractions.
- Storage Solutions: Invest in practical storage solutions, like shelves, drawers, and organizers. That way you can always find what you need and maintain productivity.
- Personal Touch: Add a personal touch to your workspace to inspire you to do your best work. Paintings, plants, and/or meaningful objects are all encouraged.
Establishing a Routine
Without a structured routine, working from home can become chaotic and unproductive. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a genius to build a routine that works for you.
3. Create a Schedule
Without a clear plan, you might drift into procrastination. Or, just as bad, overwork yourself into burnout. A schedule will help you manage your time effectively and avoid these things. Here are a few tips to help you create a schedule that meets your unique needs:
- Determine Your Hours: When do you feel most energized and focused? Schedule your most important tasks during these times to maximize your productivity.
- Block Out Time: Divide your day into blocks of time and dedicate each to different types of work. For example, allocate a block of time to creative tasks, another to meetings and collaboration, and a third to administrative work. That way you can maintain focus and ensure that all areas of your work are given proper attention.
- Prioritize Tasks: Make a to-do list and categorize tasks based on their level of urgency. By tackling high-priority items first, you’ll stay on top of your workload.
- Include Breaks: Remember to schedule regular breaks throughout your day, which will help you recharge. When you come back, you’ll be ready to do your best work.
4. Set Boundaries
It’s important to establish clear boundaries to separate your work life from your personal life. Here’s how you can set boundaries and maintain a healthy work-life balance:
- Designate a Workspace: As mentioned above, set up a dedicated workspace. Then, when you enter it, your brain will automatically think “Time to focus and be productive!”
- Set Clear Start and End Times: Determine start and end times for your workday, then stick to them as much as possible to avoid burnout. When your work day is over, do your best to disconnect from your career to help you unwind and recuperate.
- Communicate With Others: If you live with other people, tell them your working hours. And ask them not to interrupt you so that you can concentrate on your tasks.
Staying Focused and Productive
It can be difficult to stay focused and productive amidst the chaos of home life. Luckily, there are things you can do to allow for optimal productivity while working from home.
5. Minimize Distractions
Working from home can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have the freedom to create a personalized workspace that suits your needs. On the other hand, you may find yourself constantly battling temptations and interruptions—unless you implement these tips:
- Set Up Your Workspace: Once again, it’s important to set aside a specific area in your home for work. That way you aren’t distracted by the TV, the fridge, etc. You can simply step into your home office and concentrate on work projects.
- Eliminate Visual Distractions: Keep your workspace clutter-free and remove any items that could divert your attention. Doing so will foster focus and productivity.
- Establish Boundaries With Your Family: Communicate your work schedule to your loved ones and kindly request they respect your dedicated work time. Nothing will throw off your work groove quite like a spouse or child knocking on your office door.
- Utilize Noise-Canceling Headphones: If you work in a noisy environment, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones to create a quiet and immersive work zone.
6. Manage Your Time Effectively
Without the structure of a traditional office environment it’s easy to become overwhelmed or lose track of time. These time management techniques will make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Set achievable goals: Break down your work into smaller, manageable tasks, and set realistic goals for each. This will help keep you motivated throughout the day, while providing a sense of accomplishment as you complete each item on your list.
- Use productivity tools: Leverage the technology at your disposal and invest in apps that will allow you to track your time, manage tasks, stay focused on your goals, etc.
- Practice the Pomodoro Technique: Set your timer for 25 minutes and then work as hard and as concentrated as you can. When the time goes off, take a five minute break. Then repeat this process throughout your workday to boost productivity.
Maintaining Work-Life Balance
The lines between work and personal life can easily blur, especially when working from home. It is crucial to establish boundaries and prioritize self-care to maintain a sense of equilibrium.
7. Take Regular Breaks
I already mentioned the importance of breaks, but I really want to expand on the point. Breaks are vital to both your physical and mental well-being, as stepping away from your workspace will allow your mind to regroup. Here are tips to help you incorporate breaks into your day:
- Schedule Breaks: If you don’t schedule time for breaks, you’ll never take them. Add breaks to your schedule, then force yourself to step away from your desk.
- Change Your Environment: Don’t just sit in your chair and stare at the ceiling. Grab a breath of fresh air, stretch your legs, and otherwise move your body. Doing so will help boost your mood and productivity levels when you return to work.
- Disconnect From Screens: Building off the last point, breaks are an excellent time to reduce digital fatigue. Try to engage in activities that don’t involve screens, such as reading a book, listening to music, or practicing relaxation techniques.
8. Consider Your Physical Health
Taking care of your physical health is crucial, especially when working remotely. Here are a few ideas you can implement to keep your body in tip-top shape for your career:
- Get Moving: Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, which you can do by going for a walk, following an online workout class, or even stretching at your desk. Once you do, you’ll notice an improvement in your energy and stress levels.
- Ergonomics Matters: Create an ergonomic workspace to prevent discomfort and promote good posture. Invest in a comfortable chair, position your monitor at eye level, and use a keyboard and mouse that support proper alignment. Taking care of your physical workspace can prevent the number of body aches you experience
- Stay Hydrated: Keep a bottle of water near your desk and make a conscious effort to drink from it throughout the day. Proper hydration will boost your cognitive function, improve your energy levels, and increase your overall well being.
Communicating With Colleagues
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can ignore your colleagues.
You need to be strategic about the way you communicate with them. Thankfully, I have a bunch of ideas you can implement to supercharge your virtual communication skills ASAP.
9. Aim for Effective Virtual Communication
Clear communication will make sure you and your colleagues are always on the same page. Here are a few tips to help you become a grade-A virtual communicator:
- Practice Active Listening: Give your full attention to the speaker, avoid interruptions, and ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand the information correctly.
- Be Clear and Concise: When communicating via email, Slack, and/or video conferencing software, you need to convey your message in a clear and succinct way. Avoid jargon and complicated language that may confuse your colleagues.
- Establish Regular Check-Ins: Schedule virtual meetings on a regular basis to check in with your team and receive updates on projects. This will help maintain a sense of camaraderie and ensure everyone feels aligned with your department’s objectives.
- Choose the Right Communication Tools: There are numerous communication tools available to you. ClickMeeting, for example, will help you host virtual meetings with colleagues so that you can talk and collaborate with each other in real time. The best part is, ClickMeeting can be used for free for 30 days. Get started today and join tens of thousands of other professionals around the world who use the tool to succeed.
Working from home can be a rewarding experience—but only if you follow the tips above.
As long as you create a designated workspace for yourself, set and stick to a realistic schedule, stay focused on the task at hand, shoot for proper work-life balance, and aim for effective virtual communication, you should thrive in your new work-from-home role.
Just remember that it may take time for you to grow accustomed to this kind of working arrangement. Once you get comfortable, though, you’ll never want to go back. Good luck!