Step 1: Set your work hours
Danger: Working from home can create a false sense of time expansion, a feeling that you “have all day.” This can lead to serious procrastination and lack of focus.
Solution: Stick to clearly defined working hours, during which you stay focused on work. Avoid the temptation to multi-task with things like doing laundry or watching TV. Work hours are for work (see step 2 and 3 for more on this).
Step 2: Time block your day
Danger: That lack of structure of a traditional office or work environment can lead to a bit of chaos in your day. You might have a huge to-do list but no strategy in place of tackling it.
Solution: At the beginning of the day, time block each task into your calendar. Stay focused those tasks exclusively during their designated time blocks, avoiding the temptation of news and social media, and your day will flow productively and efficiently.
Step 3: Establish clear boundaries with your family and friends (and pets!)
Danger: Suddenly you’re home and accessible all the time! Everyone wants your time and attention, and it’s so tempting because you want to give it to them!
Solution: This definitely depends on many factors, but to whatever extent possible, make it clear to those in your household that work hours for work. Have a way of indicating that you’re in work mode, either with a sign on your office door or even a hat that you put on your head. When your sign is up or your hat is on, you’re not to be disturbed.
Step 4: Create your work space
Danger: You have your laptop and a couch. What more do you need? Without a dedicated workspace at home, you can feel disorganized and also have a hard time focusing. Working in the space that you sleep or the space that you watch TV can feel like a struggle.
Solution: Carve out a dedicated workspace. Do you have a desk that’s buried in clutter? Clear it off and make it functional. If you don’t have a desk, work from your dining table and make sure it’s free of clutter before you sit down to work and clear off your work at the end of the day before you eat dinner. Check out this blog post for an inspiring tour of my home office.
Step 5: Get ready for your workday in the morning
Danger: If you don’t have to leave your house, why would you bother taking a shower and getting dressed? Though this may sound cozy, it can greatly decrease your energy level and overall sense of wellbeing.
Solution: Morning grooming is part of what prepares you for the day, and as your day may include several video conference calls, looking presentable is still important. It’s important to have routines and rituals that end the night and begin the day. Grooming is one of them and can create the feeling or readiness and motivation you need to have a focused and productive day.
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