How do you ensure that you work at your optimal level when working from home? We list out some useful tips.
I work from home, and I can tell you from experience that it can be tough. However, it can also be immensely satisfying. No commutes, no jumping up in the morning, grabbing a quick breakfast and heading out, no having to dress up and put on makeup…I could go on and on.
But, working from home comes with its challenges. You tend to get distracted by chores that need to be done. Unexpected visitors can throw your carefully planned schedule to the winds. And, in India, many people don’t take you seriously when you work from home – they expect you to chat with them on the phone at 11am when you are in the midst of working or they drop in for a coffee and refuse to leave!
So, how do you maximize your working time, put in quality hours and work without distractions?
Set a timetable and adhere to it: You decide what your working times are and make sure that nothing comes in the way of your work. Assign time for your household chores. Ideally, finish them before you sit down to work.
Demarcate an office space for yourself: You could sit at the dining table or lie on the divan with your laptop. But is that an ideal working practice? No. Buy yourself a desk and an ergonomic computer chair and either work off a desktop computer or keep your laptop on the desk and work. If you can, have a room for yourself with a door that you can close to shut out distractions. Ensure that your workspace is neat and organized. A messy space is distracting and if you have to keep looking for things, it only eats into your precious work time. If you have documents that need to be filed, have a filing cabinet and name your files so that it’s easy for you to find a document that you are looking for. And, file documents immediately. Don’t procrastinate!
Dress up: I don’t mean that you need to wear a suit or get into smart office wear. However, lounging around in your pajamas or in your nightie, is not professional, is it? So, make sure you have a bath, comb your hair and get into something comfortable but appropriate. Casual clothes are fine, sloppy clothes are not!
Be firm with friends and family: Since you are at home, your family members may expect you to help them with chores or to pop out and get something. Friends may drop in for a chat during your working hours. Set boundaries. Inform everyone about your work timings. Tell them to call you, visit you or ask for your help only during your free time. It may be difficult initially, but once you start doing it, you won’t hesitate to tell people that you are working. They will start respecting your time.
Beware of social media: It’s so easy to keep checking your smartphone every time it pings. All those WhatsApp forwards – jokes, videos, photographs – are tempting but distracting. Turn off the data/Wi-Fi on your phone while you are at work. I’ve found that to be a great help. During my free time, I turn the data back on. But I’m not distracted by Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp notifications while I work.
Work from somewhere else occasionally: Working from home can get lonely and monotonous. If you need a break from the confines of your home, or you have house guests who are distracting your work flow, find a café or library where you can work. It’s refreshing to sit in a café surrounded by a leafy garden. Sip on a latte and get inspired!
Stay in touch: If you are working remotely, keep in touch with your office – your boss and your team. This ensures that you are in the loop about what is happening. And also, that you stay visible and relevant.
Take breaks: Don’t work through the day and night. Take breaks for lunch and dinner (if you are working late). Get up every hour and stretch or take a short walk around the house. Working 24×7 can be counterproductive. You need breaks to recharge your batteries.
Balance home and work: This can be tough, especially in the initial stages because of all the distractions that come with working from home. However, it is easy to strike a balance. You need to ensure that neither your home nor your work is neglected.
Ultimately, working from home requires discipline. If you are able to get into a routine and follow it without distraction, you will find the going easy.