9 Tips For Working From Home
Working remotely is nothing new at Stelfox. We actively encourage our team to regularly work from home to help improve their work/life balance. However, it does come with challenges and it can be a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before. Our remote working expert Patrick Clarke guides you through his top tips for working from home.
Working From Home Myths.
I live in Dundalk and I commute to the Stelfox office in Dublin. Door to door, this is about 2 hours each way by public transport. Why do I do this? I love working at Stelfox and I am given the support to make this commute sustainable.
One of the key aspects to making this work/life balance successful is working from home regularly. I normally work from home every Wednesday to break up the week. If needed or possible, I also take a Friday which starts the weekend in the best possible way while having a positive impact on my productivity. There are many other ways Stelfox helps me live in Dundalk and work in Dublin. However, that’s a discussion for another day.
I’ve been doing remote working for a long time so what are the best ways to stay on track and do your best work?
It’s Okay To Enjoy Working From Home!
In a Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy sort of way… Don’t Panic. We all know there are times in an office where you are constantly being distracted. Working from home will not do away with people being able to contact you, nor should it, but it does put you in back control.
With this distraction-free time, you should find yourself being able to get through your to-do list and even have some time left over to take on those tasks you’ve been putting off. It’s important not to confuse being relaxed and productive with being lazy or not busy enough. If you find yourself with some extra time, don’t feel guilty. It means you are doing things right.
This is such a small thing you can do but like making your bed every morning, it can make a real difference to how you feel about yourself. No need to wear your normal office attire but I would not recommend staying in your pyjamas all day. Imagine getting an unexpected video call and you’re wearing your Hogwarts PJs.
We Live In The Future, Use Technology To Get Things Done.
I am a big believer in working smarter. We all work hard, it’s time to let our technology do some of the heavy lifting. Each of us has a computer on our desks or in our pockets that is capable of astonishing things. However, if you’re using your device mostly for email and spreadsheets, you are missing out on an opportunity to have your computer work for you.
Productivity and task management tools like Trello, Monday and even Tasks in Google can help you stay on course and get the job done. Many of these services offer automation that can take care of repeating duties in the blink of an eye.
For example, if I find myself resizing photos for social media that fit a standard dimension, I create an automated workflow using Automator on OSX or Shortcuts in iOS. With the click of a button, something that would have taken me 2 to 5 minutes, now takes one to two seconds. That might not sound like much, but it all adds up and I’ve created workflows for more complex situations that have saved me hours.
Now is the time to start making a list of jobs you find yourself doing over and over again. This will make it much easier to identify time-draining actions that can easily be automated.
Your company might have a task management system but if not, I love using the 3-list system in Trello. Create a new board with 3 lists: To-do, doing and done. Start by adding a card to your to-do list and then move them along to the next list as you get things done. It’s a simple and elegant way to see everything you need to do while also having it broken up into bite-sized jobs.
Music Is Your Friend.
Just because you are working from home, it does not mean that you suddenly have to work in a sterile environment. I’m a big fan of the Focus playlists on Spotify that play any style of music that you like but they are usually free from words. Each streaming service offers similar playlists, or you may even have your collection that you can now reconnect to.
I also recommend listening to movie scores that are usually full of emotion to keep you motivated but can also be played in the background so as not to distract from the work at hand.
Block Distraction-Free Time.
Okay, let’s face it. One of the biggest concerns that people have about working remotely is that they will be easily distracted and not get anything done. There is a very simple way to solve this. Block out a set amount of time, close the door and get to work. Set a timer on your phone or watch, possibly turn on ‘do not disturb’. Do what you need to do and then repeat.
Some great tools let you block certain websites for a set amount of time. I like StayFocused, a free Chrome plugin, but there are plenty of examples.
Once you get something done, take a break. You spend a lot of money every month on your home. It’s okay to make a coffee and enjoy your home. Blocking your time to 45 minutes working and 5 minutes break will not only give you a sense of accomplishment but it will also give your mind time to think. These moments are when great ideas are born but only if you are feeling good about what you’ve already achieved.
Communicate With Your Team.
It can be lonely working from home. But that’s okay as you have tools that can help. Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts and even FaceTime will be essential to your remote working adventure. Stay in contact with your team, do video calls. You’ll be amazed at just how small the world will become.
Spend Time With Your Friends, Family And Pets.
You are working from home. Take this opportunity to spend time with your loved ones. If you set your working hours and are consistent with them, there is no reason why you cannot down tools immediately at the end of your day. Most people commute between 30 minutes and an hour and a half each way. Use this time that’s been given back to you to spend some time living.
Working from home is all about balance. If it’s done right, you will feel better, more productive and healthier. Like everything it’s all about being consistent. Get your work done, take a break. Don’t miss this opportunity to look after your physical and mental health all while taking pride in finally crossing off every item on your to-do list and getting to inbox zero.