Guest Post by Howie Bick of The Analyst Handbook
Working from home is a phenomenon that has infiltrated many different companies and industries across the world. Ranging far and wide, many of the world’s employees and teams have moved to a work-from-home setting. Shifting to working from home is a process that takes time, it takes learning, and it most likely takes some adjustments along the way. Figuring out a solution that works best for you, and allows you to continue to produce at a high level might take some experimenting, and some trial and error. While far from perfect, here are a few ideas, and strategies that we’ve found to be successful for us while working from home.
Dedicate a specific work area to your work from home tasks.
Part of the challenge of working from home is separating your work life from your personal life. When you thrust into the work from home world, it may be tough to get work done and be productive in the same place where you relax and are comfortable. One of the ways you can help mitigate this issue is by creating or dedicating a particular area of your home to be a workspace. By creating an isolated place where you can get work done, and focus solely on the tasks at hand, you can be in a place in your house or apartment where you’re also in the frame of mind to work. Without a dedicated workspace, the lines between work and regular life may be tough to separate, and it may be even tougher to find the motivation to complete the work you need to do. A place where you solely work, and your focus is on completing your work tasks or assignments, can prove to be a valuable strategy and solution to continue producing a high level of work on a daily basis.
Use headphones or eliminate distractions.
Expanding off of the point above, working from home often comes with an array of different distractions available to you. Whether it’s your family, a roommate, the friendly confines of your own home, or less of a desire to work from your home, there are lots of distractions that can be present when you’re trying to accomplish your work tasks. While you may feel that something always happens or occurs, you can try to eliminate any distractions you have during the course of a workday, and solely focus on working and completing your work tasks. Using headphones is something that can help you do that, by putting them into your own zone, and eliminating any distractions or noises that may arise throughout the day. It’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked by the TV, in a conversation, or just being at home, without any supervision or colleagues to keep you on track. By eliminating distractions, and focusing on your work tasks, you can become more productive and effective while working from home.
Create a routine.
One of the things many people discount or overlook when it comes to their lifestyle or the power of going to an office, is their daily routines they have come accustomed to. A daily routine for most people provides them with structure, and a framework that they can use and work off of on a daily basis. Without one, sometimes people feel lost. It’s easy to discard your routine when you’re working from home. After all, there isn’t any time or money spent on commuting. All you have to do is move from one place to another, and the whole process of picking out your clothes, getting dressed, prepared, and ready for the day can be eliminated or greatly reduced when working from home.
An idea for people who are struggling with the switch to working from home, is to create your own new routine. Create a routine that allows you to be consistent and keeps you from going one place or task to the next. By having a routine, you’re trying to build a framework of consistency for yourself. It’s easy to get side tracked without one, but when you have a routine, you have a daily set or process of events that you do in coordination, that can help you build momentum for the day, or help you stay focused on the tasks at hand, especially during the beginning part of the day.
Build a schedule.
Much like a routine, building a schedule can be something that gives you an extra or additional framework to stay focused, and work on a daily basis. A schedule can help give you guidelines of when to eat lunch, when to take breaks, and the deadline for completing a specific task. Many times a schedule or a timeline is given to you at work, to complete a certain project by a certain date, and you’re able to get the work done or the task done by then. Applying that same framework to the work you do, and tasks you have can be a help as well. While not the same as a superior or colleague giving you an assignment, you can still use the same tactic for yourself, in order to continue producing work in a timely fashion and continue being a productive employee. Without a schedule, it may be easy to be lax on timelines, and let tasks or assignments slide past the deadline for completing certain tasks. Schedules can provide you with a glimpse into what’s ahead, what you need to accomplish, and what you need to work on, on a daily and weekly basis. It can help direct your attention and focus on the assignments or tasks that need to be completed and need to be worked on.
Be patient with yourself.
With the world we’re in, especially today, many people grow impatient rather quickly, and get ancy or anxious when they aren’t seeing results in the short term, or soon after. Understanding that working from home is a major change for people, that has uprooted their lives, created additional problems, and removed the opportunity to easily separate your work and personal life, you deserve to be a little bit patient with yourself. Making the adjustment will take some time. You’ll have to figure out what works for you, what you like, and what you don’t like. If you choose to be impatient, you might be making the adjustment and switch to working from home an even harder task for yourself. By keeping perspective, and understanding that good things take time, and for many people, possibly yourself included, this may not be the optimal working setting, or working environment. Staying patient, and understanding that these types of adjustment are things that take time, and go through a bit of a process, can ease the burden you’re feeling, or ease the pressure you’re feeling to switching to a working from home environment for the time being.
Working from home isn’t easy for many people, and often comes with an adjustment period. Many people’s lives, daily routines, and lifestyles have dramatically changed, causing lots of changes to be made, and new normals to get used to. Dedicating a particular area or space in your house to be a workspace, can help keep you focused and on tasks while you’re trying to complete the work you have to do. Using headphones or finding ways to eliminate the distractions around you, can prove to be an effective way to eliminate the ease of getting off task, departing from a work frame of mind, and keep you focused on what you need to complete.
Whether they’re financial analysts or media correspondents, many people are accustomed to the daily routines they have built around work and going to an office. Creating a daily routine for yourself even though you’re at home, can help put you on the right path for the workday, and help you stay focused, especially in the earlier parts of the day. Building yourself a schedule, or keeping a calendar on a weekly, or monthly basis can keep you focused on completing the tasks you need to complete and keep you producing the needed work on a timely basis.
Possibly the best idea, or the most important, is in being patient with yourself during this time. Adjusting to working from home is a big change for many people and something that comes with lots of changes, and departures from the lives we were all used to. Understanding that the adjustment takes time, that it’s a process, and being patient with yourself can help ease the difficulties. This is something that’s very important to keep in mind and to practice.
All in all, working from home is a lifestyle that is great for some, and poor for others, it’s all about finding what works best for you, and continuing to keep yourself moving forward during this time, whether it’s your optimal work setting or not, if you happen to find you and your company working from home for the short while ahead.