[Guest Article] Editorial note: This article is written during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Many companies are having their employees work from home while coronavirus works its course.
So here you are faced with the option or requirement to start working from home. Whatever the reason, you’ve got a lot of thinking to do. Working from home can be a daunting change of pace for many people.
It’s quite different working from home. There’s a lot of consistency when you work in an office or regular place of business. Not so much at home. Some people live alone, while others have five other humans living with them. It’s fluid and dynamic, and every home has a unique environment and set of distractions.
Hi, I’m Chris, and for the last 20 years, I’ve run an Internet Marketing business. When I lived in New England, I had an office. It was cool, and I liked going there every day. But, after a while, I started working from home, and I found that I could be a thousand times more productive doing so.
That’s when I made the switch to permanently working from home. Over that time, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be incredibly productive working in the same place you sleep. So, stick with me here, and I’ll share with you my favorite tips for working from home.
Structure is Critical
There’s no denying that you can easily fall into a non-productivity chasm when you work from home. Distractions are everywhere you turn, and you are literally in the place where you most often chill out.
So, you need to establish some clear structure into your day. Determine what hours you’ll be working, write them down or put them in your calendar or planner and stick to it. When it’s time to work, everything else gets put away.
Focusing on structure and sticking to a schedule will help you mentally transition from being at home to being at work.
There’s also a benefit at the far end of a structured work-from-home workday. That is when your schedule for the day is over, you put the work away, and you resume your non-work activities.
Get Dressed For Work
No kidding on this one. Getting dressed like you are going to work will help you mentally transition into your workday.
Staying in your sweats or that mumu you got from Wish will keep your mind in chill-out mode, and you will more easily become distracted.
So, get in the habit of dressing for work.
Bonus tip: It’s easy to forget to shower when you work from home. Make a point of taking that shower in the morning before you “go to work.” You’ll thank me.
If You Are Doing Video Conferencing
There are few things more frustrating than trying to do a video conference and to have the other party complain that your video keeps freezing.
When it’s time to do that critical video conference, I recommend turning off any other device that might be using your internet connection. Make sure no one is watching Netflix or downloading large files during your call.
Often, I will not rely on my wifi and will instead connect a network cable from my laptop right into my home router to make sure I get the best speed possible.
If You Are Screen Sharing
Screen sharing is commonplace in virtual meetings. If you plan on sharing your screen, it’s a good idea to look at every open program. Make sure that whoever is looking at your screen doesn’t inadvertently see something that might be embarrassing to you, like a browser tab with your favorite K-pop video playing.
In my house, there are sometimes four children, my wife, and my dog trying to live their lives while I work. After so many years of doing this, everyone usually works well together when I need quiet time for phone calls. Usually.
Then there are the times when, no matter how nicely I ask, there’s noise. While I don’t have to use this tactic often, there are times when you’ll find me in isolated silence in the back seat of my car. In my garage.
The point here is, you have to be respectful to your clients or co-workers when you are on a call. Sometimes, you have to do whatever it takes.
The First Hour
If I were limited to only giving you a single tip, it would be this one.
The first hour is the “rutter that steers the ship for your entire day.”
When you sit down to work for your first hour, get right to work. And I mean right to work. Stay off social media, don’t check your email, forget Pinterest. Get directly to work for a solid hour.
I even suggest skipping your morning coffee and getting immediately to work for a focused hour. Then, after you bust out an hour of work, break. Make coffee, and get back to work.
Nothing will make you more productive for the rest of the day than powering through as much quality work in the first hour.
If instead, you sit down, sip coffee, and aimlessly scroll through social media, that’s what you’ll end up doing for hours. You’ll lose all steam, and your day will fall into a Facebook abyss.
So, don’t do that. Focus and get to work.
Remember, You Are Not Alone
Many people struggle to get used to working from home. That’s easy to understand. It’s a dramatic change.
Remember, you are not alone. Others are making the same switch and going through the same challenges. Make sure you keep lines of communication open with your co-workers and managers. Let them know how you are feeling and leverage all the resources you have available to make sure your working-from-home is successful.
Christopher Prouty is the founder of NineTwice, a Search Engine Optimization and Search Marketing company. He has clients around the world and has worked from home for over 15 years. He does not own a mumu.