5 Things You Should Do When Working From Home

(Collaborative Guest Post) Last year thousands of people suddenly had to start working remotely from their office. Social distancing was essential and working from home encouraged. This suited a lot of people who found a better work life balance, but other people found it difficult.  Like many women starting to work again after having children, working from home offers the childcare flexibility I need, but how do you ensure you are efficient at work with the distractions of home all around you? Here are 5 tips on how to work effectively from home if you will be doing so in the near future. 

A designated desk space in the bedroom office (boffice) for working
A dedicated work space can help you focus better when working from home

Designate a Specific Workspace

One of the biggest challenges of remote work is all the distractions: your family, the pets, housework, the fridge... This is why it is important to have a designated workplace. If you have an office in a separate room it is perfect, but this is a luxury many don't have. A small desk or table in any room can work well, the secret is to use a room where you can close the door and be alone. Ask to only be interrupted in emergencies. If you have to work in a shared space where you can't close the door then noise cancelling headphones… or even earmuffs can help you focus better. Even if you live alone, working at a desk can help you be more focused (and be better for your body) than sitting on the sofa or bed.

If you are looking for new work you can do at home imagine doing the work of a voice over actor who records all his tracks from his personal studio at home. Obviously, this professional needs the right set up to make quality recordings, but this would suit someone with children who go out to school. The quiet at home allows him to record and use his creativity free from the distractions of his environment in order to be able to complete the work. In general, it is a very creative task, which many people can do if they have the ability and commitment. If you feel that you can do the same job, all you have to do is contact Voquent to join its massive team of up-and-coming actors.

Create a Work Schedule

One of the advantages of working from home is the flexibility of the working hours, but you will still want to commit to a schedule to ensure your job and life stay separate.

If you are free to choose your working hours identify when your mind works best. Some people like to get up and start work early, others late at night. If you find it a little difficult to get going make sure you start in a planned way. Get up, have a shower and get dressed, grab a coffee and sit at your desk. If you aren't very focussed in the mornings you could start your day with exercise or some housework, have an early lunch and then dedicate the afternoon and early evening to work. Give a few different routines at try and soon you will understand what works best for you.

It is equally important is to plan when you will stop working. The danger of remote work is that your work begins to become entangled with your personal life, and therefore you feel that you are constantly working which isn't healthy. To avoid this, set a time to "leave" work and commit to it like you would if working in the office. It will offer you the separation you need to maintain a healthy relationship between work and personal life.

Focus On Core Work

Plan your day to ensure you spend the bulk of your working hours concentrating on your core work. This will vary depending on what you do, but don't get distracted by social media or chatting with friends. 

Use "extra time" for Emails and Meetings

It will depend on your job on how important meetings, phone calls and emails are, but many people will benefit from ensuring they don't creep into the core work focus time set aside. It can be helpful for instance to spend the first 20 minutes reading your emails but only replying to the urgent ones. Sending a reply often leads to further responses back so it can be unhelpful to reply after your focused work hours.

Some people find they are more productive if the schedule all their meetings for specific days of the week. Other people will find it helpful to plan them in the morning when people are often less chatty so the meetings might be shorter. The key point is to balance out the time which works best for you and ensuring you have time to do the work that results from the meetings. 

Take Proper Breaks

Countless studies show that people are more productive when they take regular short breaks rather than trying to push though. But how long do you have to work before taking a break?

The answer is that it depends. People are different, as are professions so again it is about finding a good approach for you. There will be times that you are working hard on something and you begin to feel what psychologists describe as "flow". When you are in this state of mind, you will find that you can work continuously without even thinking about taking a break, food, refreshments, or even using the bathroom. However, when working on something simpler or that involves separate tasks, such as replying to emails, choose to take more breaks. 

The key is to make sure you take the time to rejuvenate your mind and body. A break of 5 to 15 minutes can make all the difference, as can a proper lunch break. Use the time to have some exercise, have a light hearted chat or just do something completely different to your work tasks to give your brain, eyes and fingers a break.

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