How To Work Better From Home In 6 Steps
If there was one thing we have learned from the 2020-2021 pandemic is that many of the jobs that people do today in offices, can be done from home.
Hundreds of thousands of people trudge to work each morning, spending hours sitting in congestion or battling crowds on trains and busses just to get to a large office to work on a computer connected to the same internet they connect to at home.
People very often work alongside a lot of people they would rather not have to work with and those they do get along with, they end up spending far too much time chatting at the drinks machine about last night’s telly or the office gossip.
Recent research has shown that people who work in offices work on average less than 3 hours during an 8 hour shift. That is scandalous!
The reason that most people do not do much work while at work… is because of all of the distractions and chatting that goes on. Basically, business owners are paying people to stand around and chat. That is not good for them… it’s not good for the workers either.
The other option which, thanks to the recent coronavirus pandemic is growing in popularity, is to work from home as a remote worker or as a self-employed freelance worker. Working from home sounds idyllic and a lot of fun, and it can be, but it can also be a lot of hard work.
But there can be a lot more distractions and issues working at home than in a shared office.
Firstly you do not have a boss who can keep an eye on you and check that you are where you should be – not that bosses were doing a good job at that if people were getting away with doing less than 3 hours work a day!
At home, you have family around you and you will be close to all of your comforts, luxuries and toys. So it can be very easy to get distracted and lose time.
To work from home you need to be a disciplined person, but fortunately, like all things in life, discipline can be learned and doing certain things in a certain way can make it easier to be disciplined.
Remember, this discipline is for you.
When it comes to working from home you are not doing it for other people, not your boss or your clients – although they will be happy with the quality and work you will deliver when you are disciplined in your approach to work. You need to be disciplined for yourself. Being disciplined means that you work more efficiently and that you can actually do more and work less.
Would you rather bumble around for 8 hours or more and get only 5 hours worth of quality work done or work 5 hours and do 5 hours worth of quality work?
If you go for the second option, you will have 3 hours more which can be spent with friends and family or simply enjoying some alone time.
To help you work more efficiently, be more productively and be a happier work-from-home worker, here is The Crystal Clear Work From Home Survival Guide.
1. Have A Dedicated Work Space
If you can have a room to yourself to work from then do it. Being able to shut the door on the rest of the house and household will do you the world of good. The idea of working from the garden or the sofa as and when you want to is great, but it rarely works.
Unless you are a successful affiliate marketer or manage a team of workers to do your work for you leaving you with a lot of time and little work to do, working from anywhere other than a dedicated space is going to be hard and unreliable.
It is easy to be distrubed and distracted when you are working anywhere which is not a dedicated work space. Working in the garden on a warm summer’s day will have people also wanting to sit out in the garden to enjoy the sunshine. And believe me, they will talk to you.
It is hard for people who are not working and simply left to their own thoughts or reading a magazine to keep quiet. They will want to talk about ‘stuff’. I guarantee it.
They will also want to listen to music and there will be sounds from their mobile phones while they lay in the sun scrolling through social media platforms.
Depending on where you live, there may be people and vehicles going past making noises which will disturb you. Some people may stop and try and talk to you if they know you and can see you.
All of these distractions will affect your efficiency and you will not get much work done. Had you worked from a dedicated working space like an office, you could get all of your work done in half the time then go and enjoy the garden properly without having to work.
Working from a dedicated work space such as a small office also means that people ‘know that you are working’ and that they need to leave you to work undistracted.
To disturb you, they need to go out of their way and come to you which is less likely to happen than if they were sitting next to you on the sofa, sunbathing in the garden or cooking in the kitchen while you are trying to work on the kitchen table.
Never underestimate the importance of having your own private work space at home.
2. Dress For Work
People believe that home based workers work in their pyjamas or underpants. While this might be true for some people… it isn’t something we recommend. If you desire to work from home so that you can work in more formal clothing, understand that being too formal is a bad thing.
Do you feel like working when you are in your pyjamas or in a state of undress?
Do you feel ready and raring to get on with work if you have not showered or brushed your teeth?
No you don’t. It’s hard to actually do anything when you are not in the right frame of mind or rightly dressed for the occasion.
You may not like to hear that, but think of this for a minute; if you were dressed in your favourite clean clothes and wearing your best shoes, how would you feel when your gran asks you to help dig up potatoes from her wet muddy garden?
I bet you would be very reluctant.
If you were wearing the clothes that you would normally wear when doing dirty jobs like painting and gardening you wouldn’t think twice. But while you are in your best clean clothes, you will feel a strong resistance to helping your dear old sweet grandma.
The last thing you want is mud on your best boots and trousers. If you did help your gran out, it would be reluctantly and half hearted.
Imagine that you are wearing your new ‘box fresh’ trainers as you are walking past the local park and a football lands close to you in a wet muddy patch. The children in the park shout to you asking you to ‘kick the ball back’.
To do so would mean you leaving the path, walking several feet across muddy grass to get to the big muddy pool to kick a football which is stuck in mud and dripping in dirty water. How would you feel about that?
Would you do it?
No, of course you wouldn’t, and why not?
Because you are not dressed to do it. You are not in the right frame of mind or wearing the right clothing.
What you wear at a specific time plays a huge part on your motivation and behaviour. And when you are supposed to be working from home, you should always wear clothing that is appropriate to the work you need to do.
You need to wear the clothing which makes you feel confident and ‘at work’. Studies have shown that people who work from home that wear clothing which is suitable to the type of work involved, are more efficient and productive.
If you are doing a personal assistant type role, wear personal assistant type clothing. Don’t wear your favourite slobbing out tracky bottoms, big floppy jumper and your Scooby Doo slippers. Because you will not feel like doing much and you won’t get much done. Mark my words!
Wearing your pyjamas and undercrackers are not work inducing clothing… they are for slobbing around in and relaxing… which is not a great working state to be in.
3. Work To A Set Timetable
Another issue which people who work from home have to deal with, is not being tied to a timetable in the same way you would be if you had to go to a place of work. When working for a company which insists that you have to be in a place of work at a specific time otherwise you risk getting into some kind of trouble, you manage to get there on time without fail.
Yet when you work from home and the office is a couple of metres down the landing, going to the office can be harder because there is no one to see you arrive either on time or late.
Unless the company you work for is using a dedicated software which needs you to be logged on by a specific time and can monitor your work… you can log on as and when you want. There is no urgency and no fear of repercussions if you are late and so it is too easy to be slack.
This slackness can lead to you not doing what you need to do. And if you are paid to do it, then you run the risk of losing your job, and that is the last thing anybody needs. It just doesn’t feel like you can lose your job until it happens.
This is why it is imperative that you set a timetable for yourself.
To be efficient and as productive as possible, you need to start the day at the same time every day and end the day at the same time too. Set yourself a specific time to work. Even take breaks at the same time so that you get into the working habit.
I am not saying that you cannot be more flexible than if you worked for a company in their offices, you can, but if you do not have a timetable or a plan to work to, it will be incredibly easy to become distracted. And if that happens too often, you run the risk of not getting done what needs doing and that can lead to the possibility of losing work or your job.
Remember, you are doing this for you and not anyone else, so be wise and protect your work from home status.
4. Ensure That Your Workspace Is Free From Toys
Your workspace should not have any toys which can distract you from your work. That includes things such as televisions and radios unless you need them for work. If you don’t need them for work then I recommend that you do not have them in the room.
Radio can be okay, people work well with the radio playing in the background, but that is more for jobs of a physical nature. If your work requires you to think, then radio can also be a major distraction.
Radio stations employ presenters to be fun and entertaining, they have quizzes and games which can pull people out of their focus. As can the news which appears on the radio every hour.
If you need to think and you struggle to work in silence, I advise you to create a dedicated work day playlist which only includes instrumental music that is gentle, doesn’t change tempo, and doesn’t need you to keep changing CDs or anything like that.
Maybe have something that includes sounds of nature which is calming and soothing.
Ideally you want to start the music and let it play on its own for several hours or throughout the day without you needing to give it any more attention. Like the music below.
I would recommend YouTube or Spotify to create playlists, but unless you pay for the premium services, your well chosen calm and soft background music may be interrupted by annoying adverts.
You don’t want that while you are deep in thought.
5. Tell Your Family That You Are ‘At Work’ And Insist On Not Being Disturbed
Your family has to realise that you are working and respect your privacy. It is hard to work when people keep popping into your room to ask you questions or talk to you as they are passing.
There is nothing worse when you are deep in thought and someone pops their head around the office door to tell you something ‘trivial’. In the blink of an eye, you lose track of what you were thinking.
It has been said that when you are in deep concentration or the flow of creative thought, it can take upto 12 minutes to get back into that state after you have been interrupted. Imagine how much time you lose each day if people keep popping in to tell you stuff throughout the day.
Your work can suffer greatly too if you have too many interruptions.
Too many interruptions can lead to frustration, then anger which can lead to the Darkside!
Well maybe not the Darkside exactly, but it can make you a bit tetchy resulting in you snapping at your loved ones… which I am sure you know, is never a good thing. Snapping at loved ones never ends well.
It is hard telling loved ones to stay away and ignore you, but if they love you and appreciate what you are doing, they should be fine with it. Any decent human would be grateful that they get to see more of you which they will if you work from home.
There will be times when you pop to make a drink or take an extra break out in the glorious sunshine where they can chat to you. Trust me, even if you are super disciplined and follow a strict timetable, there will be times when you have an extra half hour outside when the weather is too good to miss.
And so you should, you work from home for you and to have a better work-life balance. You are not working from home for the benefit of others.
6. Use Dedicated Communication Tools
The technology we have to hand today is incredible.
The free social media platforms and email we can use makes it very easy to communicate with people from all around the world at any time of the day. They are fantastic tools for promoting and marketing your products and services… but they also make it ridiculously easy for other people to contact you and pester you.
I don’t want to add more expense to your outgoings but it makes sense to have a dedicated work phone which allows you to take calls and monitor messages which are solely for work.
Have your personal phone on silent and out of the way so that you are not constantly being pestered by friends and family. Give your work phone number to only a couple of close relatives so that they can get hold of you if there is an emergency.
The fact that you work from home means that close family know where you are if they really do need you. So that shouldn’t be an issue.
Try to stay off social media like Facebook and Twitter.
If you use them to promote your products and chat to potential clients and customers, use a dedicated account and avoid stepping out into any news feeds. Time can soon be lost surfing through the status updates and posts of a social media platform. It is too easy to be distracted on those kinds of platforms.
If you need to chat with a team of workers, use a tool like Slack. Slack allows you to communicate and share items with people without getting caught up in the usual noise of social media.
Follow those 6 steps and working from home will be a joy for you. You will feel less stressed and pressured, you will get more done, and you will get finished earlier allowing you to enjoy more free time which you can spend with your family or just enjoy doing something you want to do alone.