Working from Home – some hopefully helpful insights
Working from home (whether as part of a regular job or being self employed) has become more and more normal and I think that will only continue. I think there are some important things to keep in mind and do to keep yourself as productive and happy as possible.
Some people adapt to working from home better than others. I happen to prefer it. I enjoy the solitude, lack of interruptions, lack of office babble about peoples kids or the latest football game, etc. I can take breaks when I feel I need them, eat when I’m ready to and not be limited to a ‘lunch hour’, and be available for deliveries/workmen, etc. I know others prefer the social aspect of the office world and that’s fine for them – however currently many people are forced to work from home for a variety of reasons. One of the hardest thing about working from home is staying productive – it’s not movie watching time, it’s work time. I hope some of my ideas help with that.
1) Define a work space
Decide upon a fixed work space if at all possible – don’t spread out/move around between the kitchen table, bed, sofa, etc. – have a dedicated space so that when you are there it’s easier to have your ‘work hat’ on and necessary items are always at hand. This is my space:
The computer on the right has development, editing and admin software, the one on the left is my test machine – no special software or admin rights so I can see how things look to a user. The printer is to the right and the shredder next to it. The WIFI router in on the shelf to maximize range. The drawers contain supplies like pens and printer paper. Everything is always in it’s proper place and I try to keep the desk with only necessary items (a few things like important reminder notes or such sometimes creep in but I try to find a better place for them – I use my Outlook Calendar a lot for reminders. There is a place for letters in specialized shelves on the left wall along with my keys)
When I’m sitting here I feel like I’m working (ok, some gaming goes on in the evening – can’t work all waking hours).
2) Have a standard bed time and waking time – even on non-working days
This helps keep your body’s rhythm consistent and really helps in the morning feeling alert sooner (and for me a good cup of coffee is a must as well). The health benefits of proper sleep are well documented such as in this article from health.gov. How much sleep you need varies for different people – 8 hours is an average but not an absolute. I work well with around 7 hours, my wife needs closer to 9. Whatever amount you need try to avoid ‘sleeping in’ and letting a lot of the day go to waste. Get up and do something! You are working from home after all.
3) Eat well and healthy
It’s easy to get lazy and just snack on assorted junk instead of actually cooking. Have a good breakfast, lunch and dinner (and just like sleeping try to have fairly consistent times). Check my recipes for some possible ideas. I usually post dinners designed for two but I’ll try to add some meals for one with working from home in mind. Please contact me if you have some suggestions.
4) Stay organized
Exactly how isn’t important, but good use of apps like calendars, note pads – folders both local and in the cloud, bookmarks (separate them into different folders) – such things will all help save you time looking for things. Consistency is the key. Like Einstein said “You Don’t Have to Know Everything. You Just Have to Know Where to Find It.”
5) Chose your ambiance.
I work best in total silence – no radio, tv, etc. in the background. A little light classical music can work well too. I recommend avoiding having ‘the game on’ or keeping the news channel or talk radio on when you are supposed to be working, it will just distract you. Record the event and watch it / listen to it later.
Working from home can be a challenge for some but hopefully these tips will help. I will post more on this subject in the future.