Do you normally work at your clients’ offices? Maybe you deliver training or facilitation onsite. Either way, the coronavirus developments mean you might need to work more from home in the coming weeks. So how can you adjust to working from home when you’re not used to it?
I’m an extrovert who gets my ideas and energy from being around people. I’ve also been running my consulting business from home for nearly 10 years. Over the years, I’ve learned how to be productive and make the most of my time alone. This is what works for me,
Top tips to be productive and enjoy working from home
- Pick a dedicated place to work – This can be your office or spare room. If you don’t have that option, choose the most practical space which is often the kitchen table. Sitting down in that space helps you transition into work mode. Equally, make sure to pack away your work at the day so it doesn’t creep into your evening.
- Discover when you work best – The 9-5 day doesn’t suit everyone. So long as you still meet your client deliverables and attend meetings, working from home gives you more scope to work at the times that match your body clock and your other commitments.
- Track your time – If you think you’ll be easily distracted use a free online timer like Toggl to track how many hours you’re spending on each task. You can also use it to generate timesheet reports for your clients.
- Make an effort to exercise – It’s amazing how few steps you take if you’re no longer walking to the train or the car park. I often set the timer on my phone to make sure I at least stand up every 25 minutes. The added benefit is that I do my work in short, focused bursts which I find helps my productivity and energy.
- Stay hydrated – In big offices I used to regularly wander to the water cooler to fill my bottle. For some reason I seem to struggle to make it to the kitchen for anything other than coffee! So I have to add drinking water to my to-do list!
- Make creative use of tech – There are so many ways to stay connected with your clients and associates including Teams or Zoom. Think beyond meetings and get creative. You can use video for accountability calls, virtual coffee chats and even for longer group co-working sessions.
- Spend time with others – If your partner, family or house mates are home with you during the day you might be trying to get some peace and quiet from them while you work! Time out to chat with them during breaks can re-energise you and benefit your relationships.
- Take a lunch break – It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re working from home. Schedule time to eat lunch away from your laptop and take a break from work for 30 minutes. You’ll be more productive in the afternoon.
- Get outside – Spending all day inside isn’t good for your physical or mental health. Dig out your brolly if you need to and go for a walk round the block. As well as getting some fresh air I find I solve problems and come up with ideas when I get away from my desk.
- Use your travel time to do something productive – Don’t fritter away those precious extra hours. Make an active choice to use them wisely whether that’s exercise, online learning or business development. I also think it’s fine to use some of it for sleeping – it helps to keep you well rested and healthy.
- Allow yourself to do chores – Not everyone agrees with this one but I think it’s ok to do some quick tasks like putting a load of laundry on. Sure they’re not a treat between my bursts of work but they are good to make sure I get up and move. Plus it’s a productive use of time – when the evenings and weekends come around, I have more time to do the things I really want to do!
- Treat yourself – Getting out of the house in the evenings or whenever you can for coffee meetings, gym classes or dinner with friends helps to avoid cabin fever setting in!
Be ok with it – It’s 2020. It’s 100% ok to work from home. It’s not shirking, it just makes sense. Today’s tech means you can be just as productive, if not more so, than when you are in an office.
Good luck with adjusting to working from home. Who knows – you might even like it and decide to make some changes even after the coronavirus outbreak has passed!