In a mixed/gig economy so many people have already learned the art of working from home. But suddenly everyone is being asked to do it. For those who have not yet mastered the art of being both productive and professional from home, here are a few suggestions from my experience.
1. Perfect your morning routine.
All of us have an idealized morning routine. Getting back the time you would have spent on a commute may give us just enough extra time to tinker with and find that perfect morning routine. Exercise, get outside, pray and reflect, read and plan your day. Whatever that is for you, the perfect start makes a big difference in the rest of the day.
2. Get dressed for work.
At first, working in your pajamas might seem like a benefit to working from home. But not only is our professionalism and possibly our productivity compromised by that choice, it probably will contribute to the inevitable feeling of cabin fever. Getting dressed for work (even putting on actual shoes) can help us to delineate our time “at work” and our time “at home” even though we are home all day.
3. Set up a separate and ordered area for work.
If you have a home office, you are set. If you don’t, you will have to allocate somewhere in the house that can double as a work area for you. I would suggest that it be outside your bedroom, away from other house traffic/noise and near a window if at all possible. Part of creating that space may also mean investing in some over the ear headphones. The ones that cancel noise can be a miracle. Even if you don’t like working to music, you can choose something ambient to block out the other sounds of the house.
4. Make at least two great playlists.
I have a 2 hour playlist that is uptempo for when I have to do some work I dread (like responding to emails) and I have a 2 hour playlist that is cool, slow, and burns in the background to help me think. It might sound weird but there are also moments when just playing natural sounds, like rain or waves, can be pretty great too.
5. Take only scheduled breaks.
There are so many potential distractions in the house, it is best to plan ahead when you will take a break and then only for an allotted time. Stay disciplined and don’t lose your integrity over your home’s many otherwise harmless distractions.
6. Cook yourself lunch.
One advantage to being at home when it is time for lunch is that you don’t have to eat out of a ziplock bag. I like the change of pace whipping something up gives me when I am doing a lot of cognitive work, it also gives a chance to serve and be with the other people in your house in the middle of the day.
7. Spread out your calls.
If you have more than one phone, zoom or conference call scheduled for the day, i find it best to space them out. Having some time to come down from the previous call, and prepare your thoughts (and even some notes) for the next one, is really important. If i stack too many calls in a row, I find that my motivation for other work is seriously diminished for the rest of the day.
8. Finish 30 minutes early.
While it is challenging for the relational aspect of our work, being at home is a windfall for deep work. We should be able to accomplish more in a day working alone than usual. The reward for that kind of focus could be stopping a bit earlier. Set productivity goals for the day and when you reach them, give yourself this small reward for a job well done.