In the words of Uncle Ben, "with great power comes great responsibility." That pretty much sums up my feelings on working from home. Being a professional woman can mean grueling hours at the office with workdays that bleed into your evenings and weekends. On those days, I like to pack up my computer and finish whatever I'm working on from the comfort of my own home. But with the comfort of my own home comes the comforts (and distractions) of my own home. Here are some things I've learned the hard way about effectively working from home:
1. Get Comfy
If you are coming home from an exhausting day and looking down the barrel of several more hours of work, take a few minutes to regroup. Change into sweatpants, pull up your hair, take off your makeup and grab a snack or a cup of coffee. Take a moment and refocus before whipping out your laptop.
2. ...But Not Too Comfy
If you are working from home on the weekend, get up at a decent hour, change out of your jammies and have a cup of coffee (or tea). Just as much as you need to regroup after a grueling day, you need to set the tone for a productive one. I'm certainly not suggesting that you put on a full face of makeup and pantyhose (*shudder*), but switch your jim jams for a clean pair of sweatpants and brush your teeth. The ritual of getting up and ready will put you in the right state of mind to work productively from home. And a caffeine boost won't hurt either.
3. Set Up a Workspace
This step is key (and will likely be the subject of its own post). Your home is rife with distractions (hence, tip #4), many of which are way more fun that editing a mediation brief or reviewing reports. Set up a space where you can get down to business. Whether this is a home office or a desk in the corner of your apartment, carve out a space dedicated to productivity. Your workspace should be well-lit, organized and comfortable. Cruise Pinterest for decorating ideas and design a space that makes you feel happy and ready to take on the world.
Not only will having a dedicated workspace increase your productivity, it will preserve your sanity. When I first started working from home, I would sit on the couch or lounge in bed for hours with my laptop. The problem with that set up was that there was no division of work and home. By working in my sleeping space, I stripped it of all its cozy, relaxing, peaceful associations. There was nowhere for me to escape once I finished work. As a result, I carried the anxiety of work into my bedroom and consistently woke up exhausted.
Thankfully, the cure was simple. I created a dedicated workspace and - with the help of some fairy lights and a cup of tea (try this one for a restful night's sleep) - made my bedroom cozy again. Now once I've finished my work, I tidy up my workspace, put my work phone on silent, turn out the lights and head into my bedroom for a peaceful sleep.
4. Limit Distractions
Have you ever procrastibaked an entire tray of cookies or cleaned your apartment top to bottom to avoid doing work? Me too. In order to effectively and efficiently work from home, you need to limit the distractions in your workspace. Close the door, turn off the TV, pop in some earplugs and get to work.
Phones are another prime suspect. Buzzing texts, Facebook notifications and Instagram feeds are an endless source of distraction. If at all possible, consider two phones. Firstly, you can leave your personal phone in another room while you work from home. Secondly, you can leave your work phone in another room while you sleep. Lastly, separating your work and personal phones will allow you to preserve an expectation of privacy with respect to your personal correspondence. Your company will never see that embarrassing text you sent at 2 AM and, if you loose your work phone, you won't loose any personal photos when your company does a remote data wipe. Yes, you will look like a big douchebag when you whip out two phones at dinner, but the payoff is worth it.
5. Resist the Urge to D*ck Around on the Internet
Picture this. You get home from work after a long day and decide to quickly check Facebook before getting down to business. Two hours later you're watching a YouTube video about a bucket of baby sloths in a sanctuary in Costa Rica and you still haven't started working. Sound familiar? Samesies. The struggle is real.
Try to resist the urge to check social media and other distracting websites when you are working from home. Set goals for yourself. For instance, work uninterrupted for two hours and then take a fifteen minute break. If you struggle to stay on task, try an app like SelfControl (check it out here) that lets you block your own access to distracting sites on the internet for a given period of time. Even if you restart your computer, the app continues to work until the set time period is up.
And there you have it! You are ready to burn the midnight oil effectively and in sweatpants. Do you have other tips for working from home? Let me know in the comments section below.