Create the right space for working from home
If you're increasingly working from home, or remote work is now a more permanent way of doing things post COVID-19, the absolute number one priority for you should be building a permanent working environment to do your best work each and every day.
For some people, that perfect working environment may well be settling down to work on the couch each morning, and waiting for inspiration to strike...
But, for the vast majority of us, the best way to do great work at home is to have a reliable routine, quality environment, and a distraction-free set-up.
No doubt there'll be plenty of distractions in your home life as it is. From pets to children, the mailman calling, or the battle of wills to avoid checking social media for the hundredth time today, let's face the truth that you're up against it to get in the zone.
However, know that if you set yourself up right with the ultimate home office space, start work on time each day, and can block out the majority of distractions, then you'll start winning the battle of what you can and can't control. Plus hopefully producing your very best work on a consistent basis.
If you're lucky to have a spare room, then go ahead and get that desk and office chair ready. Your home office is ready to be your bunker away from evil temptation!
But even if you're working out of a one-bedroom apartment, set yourself a rule that when your laptop is open, then you're hard at work. Then when it's down, you're on home and downtime mode and can let yourself relax. Simple!
Don't forget your home is your home
Speaking of home working, it's super important not to forget that you are actually at your home and it's a place where you actually do want to enjoy spending time.
If you fully pull up the drawbridge on your own home and make it a glorified workhouse, then where else is there for you to spend your downtime? The coffee shop down the street maybe?! Your home is your home and this means taking control of the situation by being disciplined with your set-up, time, and work and life priorities.
It's extremely easy to lose sight of work/life balance as work and home blur together. So do yourself a favor and defend your rights to keep your 'home' a place of relaxation and rest!
Set regular and realistic working hours
Speaking of working hours, just because you're now managing to avoid the commute, it shouldn't mean that you now have to work that extra time just to fill up your days.
Yes, saving an extra couple of hours commuting each day on average can open up great possibilities for extra work. But it can also give you more time to plan and to reflect on a working day so as over time, you're able to work more effectively and efficiently.
Working from home, either as a solo entrepreneur or salaried employee can also give you a slight bit more flexibility in your morning and evening schedule.
Personally, instead of the traditional 9 am start time, I like to be at my desk around 9.45 am, having made breakfast, seen the kids off to school, and meditated. I then have a good 15 minutes to look over a few emails, check in on any breaking 'must read' soccer news... and a quick Twitter scan before launching into my first block of working time for the day.
The beauty of a 10 am start means I feel refreshed, focused, and ready to kick ass, as opposed to feeling rushed and just not ready to go at 9. I can also work later knowing I'd prefer to work till 6 pm or beyond.
Everyone's routines will be different, depending on your situation and responsibilities. But whether you run your own business or work for a company, just make a deal with yourself that you do actually work when you're scheduled to work. This was you'll avoid not having to play catch-up in the evenings because you were easily distracted at work through the day!
Morning routines make for a successful day
Speaking of morning routines, it's hugely important to set yourself up for the day by building one that works for you and your needs.
From a consistent wakeup time to ways to get yourself engaged for the day ahead, successful morning routines have increasingly become championed by the best and brightest achievers around. From Silicon Valley CEOs to Olympic athletes and Hollywood stars, the importance of discipline and constant repetition is what usually turns the daily activity into a winning habit for them and their followers.
For example, I love using the Headspace meditation app for 20 minutes each day, as the guided meditations really help to reset my head after the chaotic dash out of the door when taking the kids to school. This is followed by great coffee and enough of a buffer to start the working day. Perfect, it works really well for me!
But for you, the perfect way to start the day may be completely different. Work out what your responsibilities are, and get working on positive routines that will help get you into the perfect flow state to make the most of the day ahead.
Take regular breaks and appreciate your lunchtime
Unless you're a newspaper reporter on deadline or a college student jacked up on Ritalin, it's probably very unlikely you're able to sit there and stay focused for hours on end. Even if you are able to do four-hour blocks without getting up uninterrupted, it's both not mentally and physically healthy to be in the same space without moving.
Get into the habit of chunking your day and see if you can get into one hour blocks of time where you do your deep work. When that hour is up, get moving and take a break - whatever a break means to you anyway! It could be that this involves getting a coffee reward, a quick nip outside for some fresh air, a bit of stretching, or a combination of the above.
A good work break gets you physically active, out of your head, and recharged for the next hour or so ahead. It's the same with lunch, so use this time to get away from your desk and do something else. You'll thank yourself as you get back to your home office chair with a new sense of enthusiasm for the afternoon ahead!
Plan the night before, realign the next morning
After a busy day of work, it's possible that you're already starting to think about turning on 'home mode' when the clock gets late in the day. But if you can start to get yourself into a routine of reviewing your day and planning for tomorrow then you'll definitely start thanking yourself for it in the long run. Think of it as bookending your working hours, taking time to reflect on where you're at and where you need to go.
Reflecting on what you accomplished and need to focus on tomorrow is a great way to not only plan tomorrow's to-do list, but also a quality way to mentally process your workflow and give yourself permission to enjoy a pleasant, relaxed evening ahead.
By staying on plan, you can head off anxiety before it occurs by confirming to yourself that you've done a good job today. This then compounds over time, as you're able to follow your own priorities day after day, reaching completion of tasks, projects, and goals on time.
Setting targets and goals to stay on course
Unless you're a solo entrepreneur or freelancer, the chances are that your targets and goals will need to align with other members and colleagues across your team.
And whilst this is true, there is nothing wrong with looking at how you can set your own personal goals and targets so as you can excel at your role. It could be that you see this year as the one where you earn that promotion. Or maybe you think you can work smarter in your day to day to create more free time for deeper project work.
Setting realistic targets and goals, as well as reflecting on these regularly is a great way to develop yourself and make serious step changes in your career. Work on executing targets and goals well, and you'll master the art of working from home by achieving enough hours in your day for a perfect work/life balance.
Build an active social life outside of work
If you're going to start spending a lot more time at home, then it's also important to put some deep focus and attention into your own personal life.
As street after street, town after town start working from home a whole lot more, there is both a threat and an opportunity to the social side of life. Easily put, we need to work out new ways to achieve social interaction which would normally occur from our natural routines to, from, and whilst at the office.
We know that interacting with other humans is important for our mental health and to offer breaks from our own routines. So whilst Zoom may be able to offer some support, it shouldn't take the place of opportunities to interact with genuine members of our local community.
So make sure you're staying in contact with colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Get those food and drink social plans in the diary, maybe even start a weekly Friday lunch club. Do you miss seeing people on the morning commute or maybe just the exercise involved? Why not replace it with a 30 minute morning walk of your area and enjoy the opportunity to bump into new friendly faces.
Start your own business from home
Now that you're working from home more regularly, you have the opportunity to do all the things you previously wished you'd had time to do before. So use this time wisely and actually do it!
It may be that your dream has always been to run your own business, so why not start small and look to start your own side hustle? Seeing as you can now guarantee you'll be able to 'clock off' regularly each day, this should free up plenty of your own time each evening to get down to business in building a winning enterprise.
Incredible things can happen if you truly build momentum in life, and a consistent 2-3 hours each weekday can add up to over fifty hours per month where you can follow your true passions and see your entrepreneurial dreams come home.
If your dream has always been to start a business, working from home could well be the opportunity you've been looking for in terms of opening up greater flexibility and routine into your daily life.
Do what works for you when working from home
There are many benefits to working from home. However with freedom from the daily commute, comes the responsibility to make your time as productive as possible, so as you can truly make a success of working remotely.
Start your day with our routines and hold yourself accountable. Build yourself a life around your working schedule and you'll thank yourself when you're achieving great things in your career and personal life.
The world is changing and moving towards increased remote work. Why not make 'working from home' work for you!
Until next time…keep winning
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