As a work from home (WFH) pioneer since 2007, I have had my share of reboots and fresh starts. The experience has made clear that absent the structure, cadence, and culture of life in the office, I am the bona fide boss of my work environment – and that’s something to master and to celebrate. But the mastering partcomes first. If you are new to the WFH lifestyle, the bloom may still be on the rose…or maybe, you feel that you just haven’t nailed this thing yet. Either way, the following are some tried and true steps you can take to make working from home, work for you.
Establish a commute or change it up
It’s helpful to make a psychological pivot from the personal to the professional at the start of your workday. That brief walk, or poem you decide to read every morning could be the segue that helps your brain transition from the personal – like the laundry you left to be folded downstairs – to those emails and meeting invites waiting for a response.
Create or reestablish boundaries
You may work from home, but you still need to be focused, productive, and available to your co-workers. Make those with whom you share your home partners in your success. The key is to communicate what you need from them upfront. A closed door could mean “Do Not Disturb” or a plan to catch up over lunch at the kitchen table can stave off interruptions. The beauty of creating boundaries is that you can revisit and adjust them as needed.
Plan two or three things to look forward to this week
Whether you work in an office, at Starbucks, or at home, having something to look forward to can prevent you from going stir crazy during the workweek. Perhaps give this some thought on Sunday evening so that once you’ve made your Monday morning “commute” to your home office, you’re already fueled by a dose of happy anticipation.
Organize or reorganize
Many people transform a closet into an office. Others claim the dining room table, or the corner of a guest room as their workspace. Every situation requires the creative and careful use of at-home real estate. Even with a dedicated home office, getting and staying organized makes work so much easier. Every January I go through my work files and toss what is obsolete. I then order my files based on how often I access them. Works for me!
Schedule time for thinking-based, focused work
Lock in time on your calendar to dig into the generative thinking that makes those projects of yours so successful. I typically schedule a few hours each week for research which informs, energizes, and inspires me.
Balance video and audio-only calls
If possible, mix things up to introduce variety and fend off fatigue – just as you did in the traditional workplace.
Break on demand or on schedule – you decide!
The most productive, creative people take breaks. They are necessary for your well-being and can be just the pause you need to clear your head. When I find myself stuck, I immediately turn to the next work from home tip…
Get up and out!
It could be a quick jaunt to the laundry room or a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. The point is to get moving because doing so bestows a true mind-body benefit!
Lock in a quitting time
This discipline is the most difficult for me. With 24/7 access to texts and emails, work can spill over into any moment at any time. I work on gaining mastery by scheduling myself for a reading hour or a news program from 5 until 6 pm. That, for me, is the perfect segue to a peaceful evening and a masterful work from home lifestyle.