Wondering how to work from home? My best tips to help you stay focused
Wake up, make coffee, check Instagram, make a to-do list, check email, open laptop, scroll on Instagram, answer another email… get distracted… make more coffee… does this sound like anyone else’s routine when they work from home?
No really, let’s be honest. It’s becoming so common for people to call their couch, dining room table or spare bedroom their office rather than an office building in the middle of downtown. The office dress code is now a nice shirt paired with your coziest sweatpants because conference calls are only from the waist up (can I get an amen?!). But, with all of the perks of getting to work from home, it’s oftentimes easy to ignore the difficulties that can come with working from home.
Let’s be real, working from home can be hard
When your desk is also your kitchen table, your morning routine is your commute, and your home is the shiny high-rise building, work-life balance can become difficult to find. It becomes hazy because being at home can always feel like being at work because, well, technically you are! I’ll be wrapping up an email response, hear the washing machine buzz that the laundry is ready to be switched, then I find myself cleaning the kitchen because I hadn’t had a chance to tidy up since my first cup of morning coffee. By the time the kitchen’s sparkling, I realized I never finished the email! I had spiraled into a task-finishing robot, completing every task in sight except for the one I had originally sat down to complete.
Is this sounding familiar? If so, you’ve come to the right website, and I’m really thankful you’re here. I’ve worked from home for two years, and I have learned a few lessons the hard way. I want to share a few tips and tricks I have found helpful to balance my work from home routine and my life at home.
Okay, you ready to dive in? Keep scrolling for my seven tips to conquer working from home like a pro.
How to work from home: tips to help you succeed
Make a to-do list or schedule for your work day the night before
Before I unwind for the evening, I love to do a “brain dump” of all of my thoughts that I have about work for the following day. Brain dumping is a great tool to organize your thoughts, create better time management, and to free up space in your mind to focus on things you value outside of working from home. One way to brain dump is to write down the words, “yesterday, today, tomorrow, and people” on a piece of paper. This paper is what you will look at the following morning to know where to focus your time and energy. So, next to “yesterday,” you would write down anything that you didn’t quite finish or get to on your list of to-do’s that you want to remind yourself of the following day. Then, next to “today,” you would list out your goals and task to complete that day. Next to “tomorrow,” you would write down any deadlines or meetings that you want to have on your radar that are coming up. And, finally, next to “people,” you can write down names of people you want to focus energy toward that day! This is an amazing way to be intentional with current clients, past clients, other professionals, friends and family.
Create a dedicated workspace in your home
Remember how I mentioned how work-life balance can become hazy when you work from home? Creating a dedicated workspace is a great way of creating boundaries, both physically and mentally. When I first started working from home, I bounced between working at the kitchen table and on the couch. I learned that I’m far more productive and focused when I’m sitting at a table, but I hated being at the kitchen table all day! After getting a desk, I was able to make boundaries in my home by dedicating that space to working, and working only. I felt more free in other rooms of my home because my work stays at my desk, rather than roaming like a nomad through every room. Now, “creating a dedicated workspace” does not mean you have to buy a desk! If you don’t have a desk or work where space is limited, my advice for you would be to create mental boundaries around your workspace. At the end of the work day, shut the computer, gather up the sticky notes, wrap up the chargers and store them all away until you’re ready to start working the next day. “Out of sight, out of mind,” right?
Set times for breaks throughout your work day
When I get into the zone, I can work and work and work and work and not realize how much time has passed! If I’m not aware of it, I could end up sitting at my desk throughout the entire morning. I started using the app Be Focused while working from home. I downloaded it to my computer, and it sets a countdown clock at the top of my screen for 25-minute increments. Then, after 25 minutes, it sends a notification to my screen that reminds me that it’s time for a five minute break. This way, I’m not stuck in a black hole of work for hours on end without taking time to walk outside, heat up my coffee and refocus my mind before starting my next 25-minute work session. I’ve found that I’m far more focused and get a lot more done when I allow myself the freedom to take breaks while working from home.
Start your day with a meeting at home
This is a great tool for accountability! When you’re your own boss, you can either be really hard on yourself or really lenient (or both!). It can be hard to remain disciplined to a morning wake-up call when you’re the only employee showing up to work in your living room. So, starting your day off with a meeting with another creative, a client or even a friend who is helping to keep you accountable as you work from home can be an amazing way to get your booty out of bed on time.
Set time limits on social media
This is so incredibly important, especially when part of your job requires using social media! Social media platforms are addictive in nature, so it won’t take long on the app before you could find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your feed over and over again. I’ve found it really helpful to set time limits on my phone that prevent me from spending over a certain amount of time on social media apps. This is just another level of accountability to help keep you on task and not distracted while working from home.
Make your work from home environment a place you enjoy being
Working in a space you love is a major perk of getting to work from home! You have total autonomy over the feel, decor and layout of your work environment. So, make it your own! It’s amazing how a window, plant, picture frame and pencil cup can totally change the feel of a workspace. For me, natural light and plants make me so stinking happy. So, I plopped my desk right by a window and have continued to build out my own little jungle (shout out to Home Depot’s garden center!). It’s a space of inspiration and somewhere I enjoy spending time. It’s a game changer to love the space where you work from home!
Create a playlist that inspires you or listen to podcasts as you work from home
Working from home can feel lonely at times. This is one of the reasons why I love to play music or podcasts as I work; it makes me feel like I’m having some human-interaction throughout my day. As you’re working from home, you can also be learning! I love to listen to business podcasts throughout my work day. Below are some of the business podcast I’m loving these days:
Love these tips for working from home? There’s more where that came from!
I hope these work from home tips have been helpful for you, no matter what your profession is! Working from home is a really sweet thing, but it can also be really hard and challenging. My hope is that these small tricks that I’ve learned through my experience can be encouraging to you in whatever season you’re in in your profession. If you found this helpful, subscribe below to my education posts for updates and opportunities for mentorships. I’m still learning and figuring it all out, too, so we should be friends and figure it out together! And, my timer just went off! Time for my five-minute break.