I started working from home a little over a year ago. I do go out on appointments for work, so I love the combination of working from home and going out and having human interaction on my appointments. I am often asked how I work from home without getting distracted, or how I keep a schedule.
These are my tips for working from home. Just what works for me, and most of this I have found works through trial and error.
- Physical boundaries – When you work from home it gets REALLY easy to bring your laptop into bed with you in the morning. Then down to the couch. Pretty soon, you are just this amoeba with a laptop slithering around your house. If you have the ability to use a room in your home for an office, that is ideal. I have an extra room that I can use for an office, and I love it. I did my best to decorate it in a way I love without spending much. I hung up a lot of running stuff, because that is motivating to me. If you don’t have a separate room, you can still set yourself up an area to work. If you can keep it out of a common area, that would be best. I would also consider what you need to get done. I am not going to go to a coffee shop to make phone calls. But if you just need to grind through work, sometimes going to a coffee shop is great if you don’t live alone.
- Short bursts of work – Have you heard of the pomodoro technique? Basically you set a timer for a given amount of time and work without distractions. When the timer goes off, you get a 5 minute break. After 4-5 rounds of this, you get a longer break. I don’t do this exactly anymore, but it was how I trained myself to work on something without getting distracted.
- No TV – Do NOT turn on the TV. Just don’t. And don’t tell yourself that it is for “background noise.” I’m going to call you out on that – B.S. If you need background noise, put on music. I like the “coffee shop” playlist from Spotify. Turning on the TV is an evil vortex that you will get sucked into. Talk to me 4 seasons later of whatever Netflix binge you are on now.
- Eat at a table – when you take a break to eat, put your food on a plate and eat at table. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten hanging over the sink, and then kept eating because, “I have to go back to working when I’m done eating and I’m not ready to go back to work.” And then you spend the rest of the day feeling too full and hating yourself.
- Defined meal times – I also struggled with this at first. I would sort of eat lunch, then snack all afternoon out of hunger AND boredom, then feel too full to eat dinner, but obviously I would eat dinner anyway. It really helped me to eat a real meal, then move on. Maybe you are good at “grazing.” But I have just never really done well with that.
- Visibility with your boss & coworkers – This was the best thing I ever learned. I constantly check in and let people know where I’m at. I mean not physically – but what I’m working on, do they need help, what I can do for them. It builds trust and creates a perception of visibility.
- Get workout done first thing – I like to start my day off by getting OUT of the house. If you have ever worked from home, you know how easy it is to start working when you wake up. Then pretty soon, you look up from your computer, you are still in your PJs, haven’t brushed your teeth, and haven’t eaten/eaten only chips and guacamole. If you workout first thing in the morning, it forces you to take a shower and eat breakfast. Full disclosure – I change back into clean sweats after I shower.
- Stretch – The best part of working from home is you can stretch all day long and no one will judge you. I have a yoga mat and some weights in my office because it doubles as my home gym. So I like being able to stretch all day long.
- LISTS – I put seriously everything in a list. I wouldn’t be able to function without. I just use the “notes” app on my phone. Nothing fancy. And I write things down the MOMENT I think of them. Because otherwise they aren’t happening.
- Lastly – you may have to move your cell phone to another room. There are some days – usually when I’m having technology issues and my work computer keeps shutting down, that I have to put my cell phone in another room so I won’t constantly check my personal email or Instagram.
Do you work from home?
How do you keep from getting distracted?