It’s a common thing to work from home now that we’ve experienced the pandemic. A lot of people out there have been finding out what I’ve known for years: it can be most productive as well as take a serious bit of skill.
Sitting still for hours was never part of my DNA.
I had to try to schedule the shorter classes in college. When I began my work-life, it started at the Capitol in Michigan running around from session to committee meetings and rarely staying in front of my computer for more than an hour or two at a time. It continued with a life on the road for corporate. But when I wasn’t traveling, I was working from home. Now working on the FreeAt50 blog full time, I am (blissfully indeed!) in a full-on working from home situation!
Staying inspired is key. You don’t have co-workers you can pop over to chat with if you need a boost. You need to get a handle on what inspires and motivates you. Keeping focus is important as well; it is easy to drift into thoughts of laundry or Netflix. It takes the skill I mentioned, but it is possible! The decision to quit corporate life was easier knowing I have mastered all of this.
My 5 Tips.
1. Block your schedule.
If you have a project you need done, be sure to add it to your calendar. This is especially important if you have a shared calendar with co-workers who may not see/understand what your day-to-day is actually like. When co-workers don’t see you, they may make the assumption your readily available so if you have a deadline or need uninterrupted time to complete a task or project, block your calendar to reflect it. They can’t physically see you shut your office door, so you need to do it online.
2. Dress for work.
This is easy to ignore. I mean, working from home means you CAN work in your favorite t-shirt and bunny slippers, right? Sort of. It truly depends on the day. If you know you need to be “on” visually, then dress for it. In a life of Zoom, with some cameras being better than others, we need to be sure we look our best. But without Zoom, this helps too. Often, ‘looking professional’ can up your productivity game. That said, if you are diving into a project or doing reading, give yourself permission to be comfortable. Grab a cup of green tea and throw on that t-shirt!
3. Atmosphere is everything.
Make sure to have dedicated office space, no matter how small. Set up that space to maximize your creativity, keep you focused, and truly foster success. For me this includes facing the window, often lighting a candle or diffusing oils, and having a table lamp with soft light. Often, in includes jazz. Sometimes you need a change of atmosphere (or at least I always do!) no matter how perfect you’ve set up your space. Do it. Go for a walk or grab your laptop and hit a park or a coffee shop.
4. Call on your people.
Being remote or going solo as an entrepreneur can be lonely. And it can set you up to easily digress from your focus when something goes awry (like your technology) or you hit a roadblock of any kind. Having a list of people you can call on is vital. From Facebook groups to your friends and colleagues, make sure you build your “people” toolkit for support. And never be afraid to ask for help; it will save you so much time.
5. Have the tools you need available.
If you need technology for whatever it is your working on, make sure it works. With my decision to become a blogger full-time, I don’t always need internet. I can write without it. I can schedule posts in advance and so forth. At one time in my corporate life, I had a standing call at 9am on Mondays and Wednesdays- I didn’t need my laptop in front of me for either call. One of those days I only had to listen, not speak. I used to do that call from the treadmill at the gym. The other call I did on a 2 mile walk from my house to Michigan State University’s gorgeous campus. Bonus: I got exercise and fresh air while “working” a desk job. If I need to be in front of my laptop or have reliable internet, I make sure I do.
The payoff is less commuter time, higher productivity, and, overall, owning your time. No doubt, the ability to shut yourself out of common workplace distractions like cubicle-hopping, treats in the breakroom and water-cooler drama, offers the opportunity to be get more done at once without interruption, and gives you true professional freedom.
Daphne Reznik runs the Free at 50 blog, which focuses on life after corporate, how to transition into professional freedom and resources to create income streams. She has a diverse background having worked in state government, small business, and most recently, a large corporate entity. Her experience supporting businesses and leading a national staff training program, provided her with a skill set she is using to design a lifestyle as a blogger and to inspire others.
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