How to be a Work at Home Rockstar
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I spent the first 19 years of my career in Egret Consulting’s office. Early last year, I transitioned to a home office, and I have learned more than a few things about how to maximize productivity while working remotely. I hope that by sharing some of this hard-earned wisdom, I can help you make your work at home experience both positive and productive!
Here are my tips:
Go To Work
Literally, actually “get ready” for work; whether you go to the gym, go for a run, read the paper, or have other a.m. rituals before work: do them; then get dressed and go to work. Sure, PJs all day sounds fabulous, but even stepping it up a notch with stylish athleisure wear puts you in a better work mindset. I’ve done it both ways, and I have always found myself more productive when I’m in full battle gear!
Commit to your start time and be in your workspace, showered and ready. End your day like you would any other day in the office. Many think that working from home can create a lax work ethic, and have found myself working well into the evening…when it’s time to go home, go home.
Find Your Office
If you haven’t worked from home before, this can be a bit challenging, but it’s of the utmost importance for productivity. Most people who go into an office everyday think of a home office as the couch and a laptop. In a perfect world, you have a dedicated room that you can repurpose as a workspace, where you set up your laptop, phone, and other work supplies free from distractions. If possible, repurpose a spare bedroom, so that your “office” doesn’t interfere with your personal space; avoid your personal bedroom and your couch (believe me, I know). Find a space where you can close the door and “go to work.”
If you don’t have a spare room, dedicate a space in your home that is away from the major gathering areas of your home. It’s important to minimize distractions while you are working and also ideal to have your workspace separated from your living space, so in the off hours there is a physical separation or at least some distance. This helps the mindset of going to work and leaving work.
Since this is new, I’ve needed to ‘train’ my family. When I walk down the hall to my office, I am “at work” just like if I was in my traditional office. They can’t pop up and ask me where their (fill in the blank item that clearly only you can locate) is or what’s for dinner. It takes a some gentle reminders but your family will adapt. You are not accessible unless there’s an actual crisis that involves bodily harm. Avoid working in the kitchen where, in addition to temptation from the fridge, your mind can wander to making lunch, starting dinner, doing the dishes, etc. Think about your optimum level of noise: if you like it quiet, find a quiet place. If you like music, set up a playlist that creates the right mood and use your AirPods or a Bluetooth speaker. Keep the TV off and make your home office mood professional and productivity-inducing. Close the blinds that face the road if you’re a dog person, I learned that the hard way with 3 Rottweilers deciding the squirrel in the yard was poised to assassinate us all, all while I, red faced, worked through a critical call with a client.
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
Working from home often disconnects you from your best practices, so be sure to keep this key habit intact. I typically am working on a variety of projects that require me to really focus on only that task. Consider scheduling blocks of time dedicated to a singular task, if you have a publicly accessible calendar as I do, be sure to schedule yourself as unavailable during these important tasks that require you to focus. If mom calls, let it go to voicemail…and call her after you complete the scheduled block of time.
Technology Is Your Friend And Your Enemy
Egret works in a web browser-based system. These technologies allow for seamless remote work and, perhaps, your company has similar tools to allow you to work at home as effectively. But don’t let technology also turn into a distraction, it’s very easy to lose yourself to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram since no one is watching… DON’T DO IT! That’s a rabbit hole that you can go down and suddenly find yourself, hours later, having lost a chunk of productivity time. Keep in mind that each little peek not only distracts you of the task at hand, it’s been shown that it takes an additional 11 minutes to return your mindset to the task at hand. Believe me, I learned that the hard way.
Face it, people need human contact. For some, the idea of being quarantined is like going to prison. Consider bypassing the conference call for video calls, so you can put eyes on your customers and colleagues. Fed up with Skype? Check out these great alternatives;
● Google Hangouts (iOS, Web, Android)
● Appear.in (Web, iOS)
● ooVoo (Web, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac)
● Talky (iOS, Web)
● Voca (iOS, Android)
Find Out What Works For You
We are all different! I work best without background noise, you may be someone who works best with headphones and music pumping. If it works in the office, it works at home!
Working from home may feel a bit disjointed at first, but I expect that you, like me,
will surprise yourself at how productive you can be when the only distraction you have is you. Make the best of this crazy time and who knows, maybe you’ll learn a little bit about how to maximize your productivity along the way!
Prudence Thompson is a contingent and retained recruiter entirely dedicated to the Electrical Distribution industry. To learn more about how she can help your company attract talent, check out her biography, LinkedIn profile or email her at email@example.com.