Working from home can be great. I have done it for most of the last eight years in my business since my team became virtual. Isolation is the main thing you are dealing with when you are by yourself, but if your kids and partner are home too because the schools are closed with this Coronavirus crisis, that can add extra stress and create challenges for even the most organized business owner. To make it work, you need specific work from home success strategies. I’d like to share my own with you today.
10 Work from Home Success Strategies
When it comes to working from home, everyone needs a dedicated, quiet workspace. If your child is on their laptop at the kitchen table with headphones on, you need to be at your desk in the living room, take over a back bedroom with a door, or convert your finished basement into an office. You need to be able to handle Zoom meetings and conference calls without the kids or the cat disrupting. That is one of the most important things to remember when you work at home! And here are a few more work from home success strategies worth considering as well.
1. Set Up a Great Workspace
It can be easy to work from your sofa or even from the comfort of your bed, but this can impact your productivity. Try to work from a consistent room with a desk, chair, and a window. Make your space comfortable. Add a vibrating pillow to your chair to support your back. Perhaps you want to use a diffuser with lavender or peppermint essential oils. Turn on your air purifier, if you have one. Add a few photos to make your workspace unique to you. A great workspace is one that promotes productivity while also being comfortable and personalized.
2. Know Your Optimal Work Hours
If you get the most done in the morning, that’s fine. Or if you are a night owl, then that can work too. Knowing your optimal timing is key to ensuring your highest level of productivity. It is tempting not to set your alarm or start your day in email, but this will only create bad habits. Create daily routines. At the end of each day, set your top 5 priorities for the next day. You are more likely to stay focused on getting work done when you write it down. If you have a team, set a schedule to check in with them at a specific time. Automatic time-tracking apps, such as RescueTime, let you check in on whether you’re sticking to your schedule. They can also help you figure out what times of day you’re most productive versus when you slack off. You can be flexible and work when you’re most productive, but make sure you are available for things that pop up outside your ‘peak’ hours.
3. Get the Proper Equipment
If you are going to work from home, you need a proper desk, chair, monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer/scanner, and I also suggest getting a back-support cushion or pillow for your chair. You also need a line to be reached at, so if you cut the cord previously, I suggest going old school and getting a home phone line again, or investing in VoIP service such as Nextiva, or using a Skype number for your home office instead of your main cell phone. For total protection of your data, you and your staff need to work with a VPN installed on your devices. Software like NordVPN or Tunnel Bear will scramble your data from prying eyes. For remote meetings, invest in Zoom software, a virtual background, or a printed backdrop with your logo. Corporations that are accustomed to remote employees will often have a budget for home office equipment, but if you are self-employed, make these investments to set yourself up for success.
4. Schedule Breaks
My list of work from home success strategies includes knowing when it’s time to take a break! I suggest taking one 10-minute break every hour. Use a timer on your cellphone and add an alarm to keep yourself honest. Breaks are an important way to keep you alert. Trying to concentrate for four hours straight will only lead to frustration. Make sure you get up and walk away from your desk, eat lunch or a snack, call up a colleague or, if you can, run an errand. You can even use an app, such as TimeOut, for Mac and Smart Break for Windows to lock yourself out of your computer for 60 minutes so that you actually give yourself one hour for lunch.
5. Keep a Daily Routine
There are all these stories about working from home in your PJs. This is a myth. Don’t do this. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, and get dressed every day. You have work to do, and this will help you get in work mode. Dressing business casual is fine, but do not dress in sweats. You may need to do a Zoom call with video, and you want to always have a professional appearance.
6. Set Boundaries with Family and Friends
It is important to implement boundaries so you can focus on your own work. People close to you can distract you, especially if they are in the house with you or just a phone call away. In business, your time is money. Be firm with friends and family about your work hours and when they can call you. If you do take a personal call, keep it to 10 minutes or less.
7. Leave Home at Least Once a Day
Right now, we are in the era of the coronavirus, so you can’t go around other people, but you can go for a walk. Try to leave your home at least once a day. Your body needs to move, and I do some of my greatest thinking out in the fresh air away from my computer and phone. When I’m taking the hill in my neighborhood out in the natural light, I’m working on my exercise goals and spending quality time with myself. These simple actions will help to get your blood flowing and gain a new perspective on your work.
8. Prep Your Lunch Ahead of Time
Some work from home success strategies are similar to working away from home. Just because you work at home, you shouldn’t spend a long time making a lavish lunch Prep your lunch ahead of time instead. You can make extra dinner the night before and eat leftovers, or as you are preparing breakfast, you can chop ingredients for a salad for lunch. When lunchtime comes, you’ll just need to warm up a protein and add it in. Don’t use your valuable time making lunch during your work time. And here’s an added bonus: too often, business owners working from home forget to eat. If you prepare food ahead of time, you are more likely to take a lunch break and, hopefully, you’ll make healthier food choices.
9. Create an End of Day Routine
Keeping your home office space clean will help you to stay focused. A messy desk causes stress, and you’ll waste time looking for things. A messy inbox also is not helpful for keeping you on task. Create a habit of getting your inbox to zero each day and cleaning your workspace before leaving your desk for the day. Try setting up your ‘Top 5 To-Do List’ agenda for the next day so that you can jump on your top tasks first thing the next morning. Keeping your workspace and computer organized will go a long way to giving you a peaceful work environment.
10. Beware of Burnout
When you work at home, it’s hard to turn work off. Many small business owners are workaholics unintentionally, and working from home really facilitates it. Keep regular work hours. Take time to make or eat dinner with your family to break things up. It’s ok to work a few hours more after the kids are in bed if you have a major deadline, but that shouldn’t be an everyday thing.
By following these work from home success strategies, hopefully, you can create a workspace in your home that inspires you to get your work done and be highly productive. It’s best to have a space with a door to keep work conversations quiet and a good headset that allows you to keep your hands free while you are managing calls and Zoom meetings. Hopefully, you can find a little time in your week to chat with colleagues and friends too to keep those connections going. Working remotely doesn’t mean not working collaboratively. Get the tools of the work-from-home trade and get to work!
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