Making Working From Home Actually Work

Because of my recent transition to virtual organizing I’ve started fully embracing this 99.9% working from home concept. I’ll admit it…I was positively gleeful about the whole thing. Think of the freedom, the ability to work in my pajamas and the access to the kitchen! If only it was a simple as that.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said “with freedom comes responsibility” and she wasn’t wrong. Yes, working from home is amazing and allows you a certain degree of flexibility that not everyone is granted. But it also comes with a whole new and different set of distractions just begging you to get off task. Below are a few easy ways to take back your work day and enjoy the benefits of non-office work life.

1. Get Dressed: I know, when you picture yourself sitting at your desk in your jammies a smile spreads across your way. But the truth is, you’ll feel (and so be) more productive if you have clothing on that you haven’t been wearing for the last 7-9 hours. I’m not saying you need to throw on a tie or a full face of makeup…trust me, I’m wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt as I type this. By all means, wear something comfortable but just wash your face and brush your teeth too.

2. Have a Start Time (and End Time): Give yourself a schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible. If you’re more of a morning person, take advantage of those early hours. Hit your stride in the evening? Plan on working later. Try to set up doctor’s appointments at the beginning or end of your day. Same with personal errands.

3. Try to Stop Interruptions Before They Happen: One of the first things I did was purchase this sign for my front door. Not only does it keep delivery people and salesman from interrupting but it also prevents my co-worker/dog from barking her face off at the doorbell. If you have family or friends that love to stop by unannounced, mention that around  X time you take lunch.

4. Speaking of Lunch (and breaks): You should take one. Even if it’s 5 minutes standing at your kitchen counter. I’ve found that working at home means I tend to really stay in the zone until I find myself with a dry mouth and rubbing my scratchy eyes. Force yourself to get up and do a lap around the house. Drink a lot of water because it will make you get up (and because it’s good for you). Set a timer/alarm if you have to. Just keep moving.

5. Close that Browser: You know which one I’m talking about. The tab with all those distractions. You will be way less tempted to see what’s new on your feed if it isn’t even open. Same thing goes with your phone. Place it out of your line of sight so you aren’t tempted by anything popping up. You can even turn it over so you can’t see any notifications (but can still hear if a client or co-worker is trying to reach you)!

6. Designate a Work Space (that isn’t your couch): “But my laptop can go anywhere!”….well sure, but that doesn’t mean it should. Having a designated, organized space means training your brain to focus. You aren’t getting up to find a pen or forgetting your to-dos because your notes are elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you can’t work outside or work from bed on occasion, of course! But by having a spot to go to everyday means you are setting a clear boundary for work mode and keeping the spots in your house (like the couch) as relaxation spots. At the end of the day, you can close the door to your office literally and figuratively.

7. Drill Down the Project List: Get specific and have goals you want to accomplish each day not just in general. Have a planner (digital or paper) and assign a day and time to each to-do. Sure things will come up and you can be flexible but give yourself a bit of structure.

8. Have a Signal for Family: In my house the office door being closed is the equivalent of a Do Not Disturb sign. Everyone know that it’s usually because I’m on the phone with a client or focusing on the task at end.  Having that conversation early on will set everyone up for success.

9. Get Thee an Accountability Buddy: This is ESPECIALLY important if you are a solopreneur or don’t have anyone to whom you report. Talk often and on a regular schedule with a clear idea of goals and a tracking system.

10. A Change of Scenery Does a World of Good: I sometimes find myself in what I affectingly refer to as “the state of hermit”. When you find yourself feeling closed in by your home office walls, hit the road! Head to a coffee shop or a co-working space or even your local library. Change your view and you might just change the world.