For the last 5-1/2 years, I’ve only ever worked in a corporate setting – you know that cookie-cutter office that puts you in a life-size box and leaves you there for 8 hours a day. Well…that was up until yesterday. Having the ability to work from home now has really forced me to sit down and think about how I will structure and carve out a new work life. And though it’s only been a few days on the job, I already feel the good vibes sinking in and here’s how you can too:
#1 Have a clearly defined workspace.
A few weeks before I started working from home, I knew I needed to have a space dedicated to my work – something free from distractions like the bed, television/radio noise, and the kitchen – just somewhere I could actually concentrate. A dedicated workspace can mean something different for everyone and that’s the best thing about working from home. There’s so much flexibility so take a few minutes to think about how you work best and build a workspace to accommodate those needs. It could be an enclosed room or maybe it’s a little nook somewhere – it just needs to be defined. This is your focus haven and you automatically know when you step into it, there’s a tackling of to-dos.
#2 Feel Week 1 out.
Working from home is one of the best feelings ever and if you get to do it once or twice, no biggie, but if it becomes your full-time place of employment, adjustments must be made. Don’t expect operations to function smoothly from the get go. Let Week 1 ride out and think about what’s working and what’s taking away from your productivity, then you can correct the course and move along. I’m still learning and trust me, lots of adjustments in the works.
#3 Separate work + home.
There will be dishes in the sink, laundry that needs to be folded, and countless errands to run, but don’t think about that during your “work hours”. Despite being at home, you need to set time aside for those chores. You might also need to remind everyone else in your house that you’re not really home…you’re at work.
#4 All gadgets in place.
Whatever you need to get your job done, make sure you put it in your workspace. For me, that means pencils and notebooks, cellphone, computer, planner, tablet, and post-its all within arms reach. I’m never without these.
#5 Sans Pajamas.
Still get up and get dressed. Pajamas equate to lounge, which does not equate to work. You never know when the phone will ring for a conference call. Do yourself the favor and be prepared.
#6 Stay Organized.
You really need to be a master of organizing, scheduling, and managing deadlines as this will allow you to stay on track, minimize distractions, and most importantly, make you successful. If your work involves a lot of papers, you might want to invest in a filing cabinet and some folders – really maximize all your resources and tech gadgets to keep yourself in check.
Whether you’re working for someone or with your own clients, be professional and stay on top of your relationships. These people deserve your attention (during working hours of course) so be sure to communicate as much as you need to. The web is a godsend for us remote workers – touching base could be as simple as an e-mail, text message, instant chat, or phone call.