Get Organized: 10 Top Tips for Working From Home
Pretty much the whole planet is on lockdown at home at the moment - never has there been a time in our history when this sort of thing has ever happened before. In fact, there are a ton of firsts that aren’t immediately clear at the moment, but they will be when things return to some weird new normal.
One of those weird firsts is the number of people who are working remotely at the moment during this lockdown. What is fascinating is how much productivity is being achieved and the return to a healthy work/life balance.
What people don’t realise is just how much work can be achieved at home with very few distractions to worry about.
For those who have kids, some juggling will need to be done as they will want your attention, however, unless you have to attend regular teleconference calls, you have the ability to manage your time.
You can arrange things so you can spend time with the kids and then allot more time to do your work.
Working from home has many benefits, but it takes dedication and smart planning to pull it off effectively.
Maintain Regular Hours
It’s not always easy organising your schedule when you’re at home, however, one thing is certain: if you do, your life will be so much easier.
Setting yourself clear guidelines of when to work and when to relax/play is key to making it work. If the lines become blurred in any way, you might end up not getting enough work done to satisfy your bosses or colleagues.
In some cases, you may even have to work unusual hours, such as getting up early in the morning or working late into the night - no matter what hours you choose, try to stick with them, and remain consistent.
If you know you have a conference call at 11 am, ensure you get all of the important things you need to get done before this time so you’re not rushing around or trying to do other things during the call.
There’s a really cool app called RescueTime. It’s an app that allows you to block social media, YouTube, and other time-sucks in your digital life that make you lose focus and not concentrate on the task at hand.
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So what’s in it?
* Colouring section
* Learn to count and colour me section
* Alphabet find and colour
* Spot the difference (they’ll love this!)
* and lastly, Connect the dots.
Create a Morning Routine
I can’t stress how important it is to start the day right: If you don’t, you’ll probably get the feeling of being a little disjointed for the rest of the day. (This all ties into the first point I made of working regular hours).
If, when you get up in the morning, you can get into some sort of routine, you’ll find it much easier to manage the following days and you won’t even need to think about it - even down to the time you have a coffee, to the time you walk your dog.
By creating a morning routine, you ensure that each day starts out in the right direction and it should make the rest of the day a lot easier to manage. It might also be a good idea to wear something comfortable and that you don’t have to think too hard about it.
Trying to choose clothing for the day, every day will really mess with your routine. Create yourself a "uniform" - maybe plan your outfits for the week, if you know certain days involve conference calls or Zoom meetings. Keeping it simple makes your morning routine a breeze.
Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones and live at home on your own with little to no distractions, you’ll probably need to set ground rules for your kids and pets (if you have any). Both kids and pets need to know that when you sit down to work, you’re not to be disturbed.
If you have a partner at home, this task is much easier as you can more easily shut the door to the room you’re working in. However, if this is not the case, then clear and concise ground rules need to be set.
If I’m being really honest, I’m guilty of this myself... Not taking breaks is really bad for your health, your posture, and your mental ability.
Even though there is no Schedule Police like at work, this doesn’t mean that you can’t adopt the same regime as you had at work.
Taking regular breaks is really important because it allows you a little downtime away from the computer or your desk. It also gives you time to get up, stretch your legs, get a little fresh air and bite to eat.
Take Breaks in Their Entirety
Most of us try to cheat the system (especially if we’re in the middle of something) and don’t take the whole break. If it helps, there are a couple of apps called TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows that allow you to lock youself out of your computer for a certain amount of time which then forces you to take all of your allotted break time.
This may seem a little extreme to most of us but there are some that simply don't take long enough breaks each day.
Inforgraphic: Thanks to Made Simple Group
If you are going to take a break and as long as it’s not raining, you might want to consider leaving the house and taking a short walk around your neighbourhood or even to a local park.
Now, at the time of writing this, it may not be possible because of the lockdown. However, we are allowed an hour of exercise away from home, so this would be your perfect excuse.
There’s nothing like a bit of fresh air in your lungs and time away from your traditional settings. The daylight should do you some good and it may even allow you to get some chores done, like grabbing something at the local store or even go to the Post Office.
Don't Hesitate to Ask for What You Need
If you are employed by a company and they have supported you working from home, please don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, if you need anything extra to carry out your work.
This could be anything from purchasing equipment you need to upgrading your home office chair to something more suitable for sitting long hours at your desk.
Keep a Dedicated Office/Work Space
This is not always easy and some people may not have space, however, where possible, try to have a dedicated space or even office in your home.
Even better, if you are able to close the door and shut yourself off while you work. This means there is a clear boundary between work and home life. It also makes it much easier to set boundaries and rules as we discussed earlier.
It might also be a good idea to have a separate computer for work and your home. This way, if there is sensitive material (your eyes only) on the work computer, you can either password-protect it or ensure it switches itself off automatically, if left unattended.
That way, if one of your kids needs to dash in to check something or if they have work to do on the home computer, it won’t disturb you or the work that you need to do.
Maintain a Separate Work Phone Number
With all of the technology available these days, you should be able to upload an app on your phone that separates your work calls from your personal ones. Most people think they need to have a separate physical phone, but you don’t anymore.
It’s so easy to download apps that allow you to use the same phone to make and receive calls with. A popular app is called Vonage, however, there are several more your company can use to help you take work calls separately.
Use a VPN
What’s a VPN, I hear you ask? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It means you are able to access secure files on a network set up by your company and also send them securely too.
Depending on how sensitive your work files are, you may want to request one of these so you’re not liable for any data breach or misuse of company data.
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