3 Tips to Make Working from Home — Work for You
Are you working from home? Have you worked from home previously, or is this something new for you? I’ve been working from home full or part-time since 2008. This time around, I haven’t worked outside of my home for eight months. However, I’m not you, so I don’t claim to be an expert on your situation. What I can do is share what has worked for me.
To-Do not To-Clock
For me, it’s important to have a start time, a clock-in time if you will, but after that, I ignore the clock. I don’t have an end of the day hour. I do have a no later than time. Your job may require you to be on the clock. For example, my youngest daughter teaches high school and must be available for classes. But if you don’t have to be available to respond to inquiries, ask yourself this.
What’s more important, putting in the hours, or getting the job done? Silly question isn’t it. However, for those of us who did clock-in and out of the workplace, we’ve been indoctrinated, almost brain-washed, to put in a fixed number of hours regardless of what was accomplished.
“Instead of looking at the clock, I look at my list. I begin each day with a task list, which I expect to complete. This can only be accomplished by constructing a realistic, highly doable list.
By calculating how long each task will take, I schedule a full day. If I work faster or smarter and complete the tasks sooner, I have more hammock time. If I take a two-hour break to mow the lawn before it rains, I keep working until my task list is complete. The key is to make a realistic list — not a wish list. Unless it’s Armageddon or my network goes down (same thing), I complete the list regardless of the time. I’m not an expert on ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), but I know what works for me.” -- The Key Ingredient to Successfully Working from Home
“I usually get more done at home because I’m not wasting my time on useless meetings or catching up with a coworker about my weekend plans. Remote working, I think, is the future and productive goals should be set instead of punching a timecard.” -- Too Much Work? by Mandi Welch
If this sounds like you, then working from home is a chance for a new beginning. Instead of focusing on the clock, concentrate on tasks.
Organization doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at. Coworkers have commented on how organized I am. If they only knew. I learned to be organized because I had to, to survive. Between the ADHA and dyslexia, I was a lost cause. So, here’s my point if I can do it …
For me, the discipline of organization begins with my to-do lists. I have weekly, daily, and hourly lists. I also use calendars, Microsoft teams, Outlook, and Google calendars for social media, blogging, and more. My suggestion is to take a few minutes at the beginning or the end of every day and make a to-do list. If you’d like some ideas on creating a to-do list go here, How To Create A Daily To-do List
Next, organize your work area. A sloppy, disorganized work area hurts your productivity. I remember working with a very successful business owner whose desk hadn’t seen daylight since the Clinton presidency. He claimed he knew where everything was. He said it was how he kept track of things. I can’t tell you the number of times I and others have sat in his office patiently waiting 15-minutes or more while he searched for papers. Around the office, when documents couldn’t be found, we’d go to his desk. His lack of organization slowed us all down and was a source of stress. So, deal with papers, have a filing system, and have a place for everything.
Multitasking is a myth. The brain doesn’t work that way. “As much as you might feel like you have the ability to read your email, talk on the phone, and engage in a Facebook Messenger chat all at once, it’s literally impossible. What you’re doing is playing multiple games of “red light/green light” in your brain — constantly starting and stopping each task repeatedly. This is known in psychology as “serial tasking,” not multitasking.” — Why Multitasking Is a Myth That’s Breaking Your Brain and Wasting Your Time.
This may be the most impactful suggestion I’ll make in this post. While you’re working on tasks, turn off notifications. Check them on your schedule, not the pings schedule. If it’s necessary to be available, check every 30 minutes. Set your to-do list in 30-minute chunks, complete a task, and then check notifications. When you limit interrupting yourself, you get more done and make fewer mistakes. If you’d like more ideas try this, How Multitasking is Killing Your Productivity and What to do about it
Set boundaries, which is easy for me to say. Unlike my daughter, who teaches classes several hours a day, creates curriculum, advises students one-on-one, while homeschooling her two middle schoolers, and dealing with a husband that is also working from home, I only have my wife and me. However, we inform each other when we are not to be disturbed. So, let those around you know when you are not to be interrupted. Shut your door, put a do not disturb sign on it. Mark your work times on a calendar, whiteboard, or a sheet of paper on the fridge. The best advice I can share is it will probably take more than once to teach the people you share space with to respect yours. So, don’t give up. (A note: A friend told me her one and four-year-old daughters didn’t care if she put up a do not disturb sign – I have no answer for her!)
Make Working from Home, Work for You
Working from home can drive you bonkers, or it can be a productive use of your time. If you punch out tasks and not the time clock, limit interruptions, and get organized, you’ll find, as Mandi did, you can get more done at home than at the office.
What other WFH strategies have you found successful?
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