7 Tips for Working from Home
Monday mornings are usually spent planning for the upcoming week, or at least that’s what my Mondays before 12 PM look like. If you work from home like me, you know how easy it is to plan but how hard it can be to stay focused throughout the day. Distractions happen left and right, and sometimes the most self-disciplined person will fall into lulls of procrastination too.
After plenty of years of trial and error, missed deadlines, and a couple of nights of falling asleep at my desk, I’ve learned how to better manage my time and keep myself focused when I’m at my desk.
Note: these are things that work for me, however not all or maybe none of the following will work for you. I suggest you use the tips below as a guideline or starter to find out what methods work best for you and your needs.
I think the first thing that should be addressed is where, what, how, and why — in regards to your workspace.
Where is your workspace located? Is it in an area that you can really tune out distractions, where people cannot bother you easily, where you won’t find ways to get distracted? Placement is important so make sure your workspace is in the most productive area for you.
What is on top, around, above, to the side, and underneath your desk? I think decor matters when it comes to setting the mood and staying focused. Everything around and on my desk has been placed there intentionally. The items either have a purpose/meaning, inspire/motivate me, encourages or make me happy whenever I look at it. Evaluate what decor you have and get rid of possible distractions.
How does your desk make you feel? Do you dread sitting there? If so, why? Is the chair uncomfortable? Is the desk too big, too small or too tall? Would you work more efficiently with a standing desk? Make sure you are comfortable and that your workspace makes you excited and happy whenever you’re there.
Every time I sit down, I have a little ritual to get myself into the mood. I will either have a candlelit and/or my Vitruvi diffuser on. My favorite essentials oils are a blend of bergamot and eucalyptus. I’ll then light a palo santo and play either the Soul Lounge, Chilled R&B, or Silk Sheets playlist off Spotify through my Google Home. Scents and sounds are big factors for me when it comes to getting focused.
I always have everything I need within reach, which includes snacks (in my drawer), all books, notebooks, pens, highlighters, electronics, water and/or coffee, and even my vitamins. By having everything nearby, I won’t have the urge to get up, grab something, and then get distracted along the way.
My phone goes on silent mode and I have my iPhone dock purposely set up away from my workspace. That way, I won’t see it or have the urge to grab it since it’s a walking distance away. However, if I am expecting texts or need to converse about something work-related via text, I’ll open up Messages on my desktop.
Before I start on anything, I write down my top 3 priorities for the day on my whiteboard and in my planner. I have it on my whiteboard so that I can look up often to remind myself what needs to get done and I have it in my planner so that I can keep records of what was done each day. That way, I can never say “I don’t know what I did that day.” Some people use their Notes on their iPhone or have other ways to digitally record their priorities, which is also great. Personally, I tend to remember things better when I write them down on pen and paper.
Set alarms for breaks. Every 2-3 hours, get up and take a break. These breaks will help you stay refreshed and alert. If you need to take a nap, then take a 20-minute nap to recharge. If you need to go outside for fresh air, go ahead and take 30-minutes to walk around the block. Do whatever you need to do during the breaks that will help you continue on with your work afterward. Also, don’t forget to eat lunch!
Lastly, set work hours. I start work around 1 PM Monday through Wednesday and have a hard end time of 7 PM. After 7 PM, any emails or work-related inquiries do not get answered until the following morning when I do a quick email check between 8-9 AM on my phone. I’ll work Thursday and Friday at my leisure as its dependent on what priorities I have for those days. Of course, just because I set work hours doesn’t mean everyone honors them and sometimes important deadlines come up, so I handle them accordingly.
I also split up my days between grad school and blogging stuff. Monday through Wednesday, the priority is always grad school work. Thursday and Friday are blog-related projects, events, meetings, shoots, etc. I try my best to reserve weekends for family and friends time.
Hopefully, you found at least one of these tips useful and can apply it to your life. Working from home is certainly a privilege and I love it, but it can also be a curse since there are plenty of distractions and ways you can procrastinate too. It can take some time to find the right balance so don’t worry if you can’t seem to focus right away. You’ll get it down soon enough. Remember, it took me 4 years to have somewhat of a routine!