I have been successfully working from a home office for the past 18 years, working for three different companies from my home in New Jersey and now Maryland. With so many people having to work at home during this Coronavirus pandemic, I thought I would share some of my secrets to success in the hope that you, too, can be productive and successful.
1. Make your bed. This is especially important if your office is in your bedroom. By making your bed, you are eliminating the urge to jump back in for a minute or two.
2. Keep your morning routine and dress as though you are going to the office. I find it helps me feel like I'm ready to start the day.
3. Take breaks. It's surprising how many hours can pass without taking a break when you're working alone. There's no water cooler, coffee stations, or meetings to walk to so you have to give yourself a little time to stretch.
4. Don't sit with your laptop on your lap. Contrary to its name, your laptop should go on a table or surface that can act as your "desk" and make that your temporary office.
5. Keep the TV off. You don't watch TV when you go to work, do you? In seconds you can get wrapped up in a show and there goes a half hour of productivity.
6. Take lunch. Turn the volume on your computer off and take a half hour for lunch. That’s the time to watch a show or the midday news. And, don't sit at your "desk" while you eat.
7. Use your webcam. It makes you feel less alone and more a part of your team.
8. Shut your computer down at the end of the day. Whether you turn it off or make it sleep, put your computer on mute so you aren't distracted by the dings and bings of incoming emails. Once you shut down, do not check email.
As an example, I’ll share my typical day as a remote employee. My day usually starts at 6:00 a.m. when I get up, put on my sweats, make some coffee or tea, work for a couple hours to clear my inbox from the night before, and get myself set for the day. I do some editing or writing since I'm on the East Coast and our offices are in Texas. Then around 8 a.m., I work out for an hour or so and am back in the office, dressed for work by 9:30 when everyone is getting to the office in Ft. Worth.
I have a sit/stand desk that moves when I do. My desk goes up before my 10:30 daily scrum meeting and then I work until lunchtime when I take a break from my office. I'll eat at my kitchen table, then lower my desk and dive back in for a few hours. Mid-afternoon is snack time with a short break (maybe outside on my rooftop deck to soak up the sun), then my desk goes back up again and by 5 or 6 p.m, depending on what I'm working on, my desk goes down, my computer goes on mute and to sleep for the evening.
In giving myself breaks and sticking to a routine, I put in even more than the typical 8 hours per day but it doesn't feel like it. Find your routine and stick to it. It may take a little time and every now and then, you can take that power nap, but all in all you can make working from home a successful and productive experience. I hope these tips help you too and welcome hearing your ideas.