Working remotely is one of the pillars of flexible working, but working from home is not always as rosy as it may seem. Distractions (chores, neighbours, kids, the doorbell, the fridge…) are aplenty and ignoring them is not always easy.
Combined, we have had many years’ experience in working from home. Here are our top tips.
1. Have a dedicated space
Although agile working is growing in popularity, it isn’t for everyone. For many, constantly moving their workspace is more detrimental than the benefits of the change.
When working from home, we find that it helps to have a dedicated workspace. It doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture, but, for example, always working from the kitchen table will mean that you get used to quickly getting into the right mindset for work. If you do have the space it is ideal to have a permanent desk set up with all of your files, computer and other office necessities. This means that you can quickly get to work when required rather than having to use some of your precious time to get organised.
2. Have the right materials
If you are used to working with two computer monitors in the office, try to get two at home. Use a comfortable chair and have a desk at the right height. If you’re used to using a special file note pad to write on, bring one home. Make sure your internet speed is adequate and you have telephone reception. Basic, but key.
3. Find your state of flow
Some people can flow seamlessly from a conference call to hanging out the washing and back to their emails. Lucy finds it easy to transition between these things and often loves how productive she can be –having staff conference calls while sweeping the floor and planning podcast episodes while weeding the garden – but multitasking can be the root of all evil for some people.
Find out which category you fall into and work that way. If you work best when focused on one task only, forget the laundry. After all, you wouldn’t be doing it if you were at the office!
4. Cut out distractions
Before they have children, many people imagine that they will work from home while the kids happily (and quietly) entertain themselves. I don’t know about your children, but this does not work for us. It doesn’t seem to matter that daddy is home, the children always seem to want mummy if they know she’s around. Ever tried to work while your child is drawing a picture on the desk next to you while singing or talking non-stop?
When you have serious work to do, you need to cut out distractions. If you have children, this may mean arranging day care or working when they are asleep or with another parent or carer.
Other examples might include shutting the door on the breakfast dishes so you don’t get tempted to go into a cleaning frenzy or maybe deleting social media apps from your phone if they are all too tempting.
5. See time differently
Many people think that because we work in the evenings we must be overworked, stressed and hate our jobs. In fact, the opposite is true. Working in the evenings rather than during the day means that we can spend the day with our children. This works for us – as we often do our best work at night! The lesson: get out of the 9-5 mindset. As much as “work is a thing you do, not a place you go”, it is also a thing you do, not a time you do it in.
For more tips on managing the juggle, join our free Facebook group, The Juggle Community, and listen to our weekly podcast, The Juggle, where we share strategies and advice to help you keep all your balls in the air.