- 1. Stick to a schedule
- 2. Get dressed (send a signal to your brain when it is time to work)
- 3. Clear your workspace of clutter
- 4. Save chores, errands, and social media scrolling for breaks and after-work hours
- 5. Use online tools for communication
- 6. Plan your day the night before
- 7. Connect with others!
1. Stick to a schedule
If your work-from-home situation is temporary, do your best to stick to your regular schedule: wake up, follow your typical morning routine, eat breakfast, and then get to work.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, when you start working from home you might find it tempting to turn “on” the moment you wake up and turn “off” way past 5:00 pm.
You don’t have to worry about a long commute when you work from home, and when your co-workers aren’t getting up next to you and leaving at the same time, it doesn’t always feel like you’re working that much later.
However, this could lead to burnout, and it also doesn’t include much time for YOU. We all need some self-care time, right?! Sticking to a schedule can help keep you sane.
2. Get dressed (send a signal to your brain when it is time to work)
You might be thinking, why would you get dressed if you don’t have to leave the house?
Our brain picks up on “signals” based on routines and habits we have created previously (classical conditioning). The most common example is the story of how the researcher would ring a bell (signal) right before giving a dog food; the dog would salivate and crave food every time he heard a bell noise.
To me, wearing PJs and laying on my bed or sofa signals relaxation, sleep, and reading or watching TV. That makes me not feel like working, even though I love what I do!
If I am working at a table/desk and am dressed in normal clothes – or let’s be real, many days I rock the athelesiure lifestyle 😉 – then my brain knows it is time to get to work.
What other “signals” can you do when you work from home to get into the frame of mind that it is time to get work done?
3. Clear your workspace of clutter
Clear space, clear mind.
How many times have we sat down to work, only to be distracted by a mess and then procrastinate by cleaning or organizing our space? *Raises hand*
Even if your workspace is at a coffee shop on the road, take a moment to set up your laptop and notebook/coffee/whatever. Get everything in order so that when you dive in, you aren’t distracted by clutter.
Chores, errands, and endless social media scrolling are some of THE most tempting things to do when you are working from home. I know this from personal experience, kay? 😉
Take breaks if you need to, but if you find yourself constantly switching back and forth from the tasks you are working on and the pile of laundry or dishes in the sink, try scheduling time for chores/errands or even a regular break into your schedule instead.
“EACH TASK SWITCH MIGHT WASTE ONLY 1/10TH OF A SECOND, BUT IF YOU DO A LOT OF SWITCHING IN A DAY IT CAN ADD UP TO A LOSS OF 40% OF YOUR PRODUCTIVITY.” – PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
5. Use online tools for communication
If you typically meet with people face-to-face at work, how can you bring that environment online?
VIDEO CONFERENCING & LIVE STREAMING
- Zoom is my favorite video conferencing platform. I’ve been using it for years to have 1-1 meetings with clients, prospective clients, and group meetings. They have a free version that allows unlimited calls for two people (the free plan allows calls of 3+ for up to 45 minutes). With Zoom you can also do screen-sharing, so you can show PowerPoint slides, an internet browser, or whatever else. Plus, other people in the group can un-mute their mics and talk, just like a regular meeting or class.
- Instagram Live & Facebook Live are amazing platforms for connecting with your audience! The live stream options allow you to “go live” with another person too, or you can go live solo. If you work in an in-person service-based business (ex: personal fitness trainer) and can’t see clients right now this could be a way to connect with your audience live. You can ask for donations via PayPal.me, Venmo, or Patreon. I’ve seen some instructors or trainers offer a free class with a suggested donation of $5, $10, $20, or more.
- On that note, Vimeo On Demand has options where people can stream a video to rent or buy. Here is an example of one of our local yoga studios that’s closed and is offering affordable online yoga classes!
VIRTUAL TEAM COMMUNICATION
- Asana is great for project management
- Slack for team communication, file sharing, chat
- Google Drive is a staple almost every business can find benefit from
- Set up email autoresponders if needed
- WhatsApp has a desktop app which is super helpful if you communicate with clients or international team members that way
6. Plan your day the night before
Before you log off, take a look at what needs to be done the next day and plan your calendar accordingly.
Then, take a look at what needs to be done personally and determine what time of day would be best to get that done.
When you know you are setting aside 10 minutes of your lunch break to do the laundry, you’ll be less tempted to get up randomly (see point #4)!
If you aren’t someone who typically plans fun or personal activities ahead of time, consider it! Having something fun to look forward to can help you wake up feeling more excited and motivated the next day.
7. Connect with others!
The biggest piece of transitioning to location-independent life is usually the social connection piece.
If you were surrounded by co-workers, clients, or customers all day every day, then working from home might feel a little isolating.
As an extrovert, I get energy from being around others, so spending morning ‘till night working by myself put me in a weird mood when I first transitioned to running my online business full-time. It also made me realize how much time from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm I spent socializing! Haha 🙂
Typically, if you work for yourself as a freelancer or solopreneur, make a point to go out and about every day to interact with others.
Whether it is having lunch with a friend or co-working with other biz buddies at a coffee shop, those moments of social interaction can help fulfill any needs you have.
If you are working from home temporarily due to the current COVID-19 situation, we have to get more creative while we practice “social distancing.” Instead, aim for doing meetings over video calls, chatting with your co-workers on your lunch break (even if it’s by phone!), and calling your friends and family after-hours. Some of my friends have even FaceTimed each other for “happy hour” and had drinks at home.
Take this time to still make a point to connect with your friends and family, even if it is virtually!