Since July 1, 2019, I’ve called my home my office. Though I enjoyed the space my company used to occupy in Glenwood Springs, there’s something wonderful about reducing my commute to zero minutes, sleeping in a little extra, and working from the comfort of sweatpants. It’s liberating, to say the least.
I love working from home.
However, it’s important to note that working from home comes with its own set of challenges. In addition to getting stir crazy (even as an introvert, it’s still nice to have human contact every once in a while), it can be easy to get distracted. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s also incredibly easy to get entirely wrapped up into your work, allowing your work-life-balance to completely diminish in the process.
Luckily, however, there are some very actionable tips available for those of us who work from home.
1. Organization is Key
Just like at a normal office, staying organized is an important piece of work-related success at home. It’s probably the key to staying on top of your tasks, keeping on track, and being able to monitor the way your use time.
Fortunately, there are several tools that make organization easier.
- Google Calendar. I use both a written planner and Google Calendar. My G-Calendar is where I map out every task of the day in blocks; I have alarms and notifications for major activities. For example, from 8 – 8:30 a.m., I’ll review emails, make coffee, and create a to-do list for the day, then from 9 – 10 a.m. I’ll move on to media tracking. I have a workout scheduled for 2:30 p.m., with an alarm telling me to take my pre-workout. This helps me to stay on track and keep me going from task to task.
- Toggl. Toggl is a tracking app for companies. This is how I keep track of my hours, and how much time I allot to each task. It breaks things down between clients and projects as well.
- Monday.com. Monday.com is another resource for keeping track of your tasks. It’s a project management site where you can input jobs and the people responsible for them. It’s especially handy for projects that require collaboration and several people doing different things.
- To-Do Lists. I am a list person, so keeping lists is the most effective way for me to stay organized and on-top of my tasks. Each morning I read through my emails and compile a list of all the things I need to accomplish that day, with the biggest priorities at the top. This is also another way to track what you’re getting done as well.
2. Take Breaks
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, taking breaks is an important way to master the art of working from home. When you step away from your computer, you’re giving yourself a chance to regroup and refocus.
I like to get stuff down around the house in small doses; I’ll pop in the laundry or quickly do some dishes before heading back to business. Getting a quick workout or walk in is also a fantastic option that does wonders for my head-space.
3. Use a Designated Space
As much as I’ve always enjoyed writing in bed (that’s how I used to do homework and dominate essays throughout school), sometimes it isn’t conducive to an eight hour work day. I was able to create a home office space, and that has been a source of productivity and structure for my work.
If you’re unable to squeeze in a desk or do a spatial renovation, no worries! The key is to just have a designated space that you can go to for work-related things. A desk or chair or corner that you go to on a daily basis to get your shit done. This has been a helpful productivity-booster for me.
4. Limit Your Distractions
When you work from home, there are endless distractions spread out in front of you. Whether it’s unsupervised internet access or a house-related to-do list, it can be hard to focus on work.
Do what you need to do to limit your distractions. For me, sometimes the most helpful thing is to leave my phone in a different room, so I’m not tempted by social media when I’ve got things to do. The key is to figure out your main distraction, and come up with a plan to minimize it as much as possible.
5. Make the Most of It
Working from home is a privilege, and sometimes you have to remind yourself. There are countless people stuck in long commutes or struggling to find child care who would kill to have the opportunity to work from home.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that working from home can be rewarding, and it’s up to me to make the most of it. I try to do things that I’d never be able to do in an office—work in sweatpants, bring my laptop outside, throw on a face mask, make a stove-top lunch, blast music, hit snooze an extra time. Making the most out of my situation is key to enjoying it and not taking it for granted.