Best Home Office Work Habits
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First things first. I feel very blessed I can work from my home and challenge myself to work smart. Working in my home office for the past 6 years has been remarkably rewarding and I’m in full control of my work environment, good or bad.
Through the years I’ve learnt tons on how to maneuver myself so I’m enjoying my work day, staying efficient and balancing work and play. Listed below are the essential rules I go by and so far has worked really well.
Create a Productive Workspace
I love my bed but I’m not going to work in it. No matter how small, designate a distraction-free area in your home just for working. Use it only as your home office, nothing else. You’re keeping your job and life separated and when you show up for work you’ll be focused on the tasks at hand and your brain will switch over to work mode.
There are so many options for small space office desks that will allow you to create an home office area without using the dining table. However if you don’t want an official office desk find a cute table – Ikea has tons. Remember we are keeping our work and our personal life separate.
Make sure it’s comfortable and helps you feel motivated.You don’t have to live there but you will be spending a vast amount of your working day in this space.
- Is there a door you can close to keep distractions away or keep noise out while on a sales call?
- Did you setup your home office under your stairs or did you leave a good amount of space for you to stand up – maybe even using a stand-up desk.
- Can you play music?
If you have the luxury of a door make sure it’s closed. This tells you to get to work and don’t be distracted and tells your family to keep out for now. My daughters frequently come barging in and though I love hearing many details of their life sometimes it can become frustrating. Trying to get back to the same level of focus you just were at takes way more time.
Set up your home office with a customized desk setup and keep it tidy. When everything is all over the place my mind can’t focus the same way as when it’s tidy.
I try to take the small things I do throughout my day to build an efficient work day. By keeping my office tidy, keeps me focused and makes me more productive.
Have a good office chair. This is one item you want to spend some money on. Your back and butt will thank you.
It’s also good to have paper and pen close by. I have a beautiful leather bound notebook given to me by one of my clients sitting on my desk. Any ideas that pop up into my head are quickly jotted down for future use. I flick through the book whenever I need to prompt my brain into ideas for blog posts, articles ect..
I have been “caught” a few times dressed down (okay it was my pj’s with a top bun but not even a cute one) and now have a personal commitment to dress for my job. It’s actually fun to dress for the home office since you’re the boss and don’t have to adhere to any dress code.
Although this might be stating the obvious have a shower, brush your teeth and put on some makeup if you normally wear it.
I also take this as an opportunity to try out different looks and get more confident with a few out of my comfort-zone styles.
The psychological benefit of dressing professionally puts you in that work vibe and you won’t shy away from video conferencing (in the past I’ve been known to block my camera). Skype calls, Zoom meetings or whatever your video platform is are all a breeze if your client or co-worker want a little face to face.
Also when we aren’t in a stay at home lock down mode you’ll be ready to meet for a last-minute coffee meeting or run a few errands during one of your breaks.
The other factor is your “legit work” status goes up. You will run into people you know and they will tend to think you are more competent and successful when they see you put together and know you work from your house. People can be a little judgy – it’s just the way we are.
The best way to be productive when working from home is to set regular hours and don’t let anything interfere with you sticking to the schedule.
Set times for the start and end of your day and keep to it. Of course you need to be flexible and there will be the occasional days you need to “stay late” or “duck out early”.
This is more for keeping you accountable and maximizing the time you have. Knowing technically when your work day starts and ends. We don’t want to create fuzzy lines between working and personal life and the next thing you know it’s late in the evening and you haven’t left your desk.
My preference is to start early. You may have been used to having your morning commute wake up your brain and get ready to hit the work day but now it’s just a stumble down the stairs.
My morning is the same as when I went to the office. Alarm clock goes off, put on the coffee, gets dressed and then stimulate the mind.
When you commute you can listen to music or talk radio and yell at the crappy drivers for cutting you off which can certainly wake up your brain. Now my mind gets activated by taking the dog out for an early morning walk. We are very fortunate to live by a forested park and can walk through the trails. It gets your mind ready for the day.
Learn what works for you in order to function efficiently in your home office.
Find the right way to communicate with your clients or team mates and invest in the technology. There are many ways to communicate like:
- Instant Message
- Phone Calls
- Video Conferencing
- Live Video
- G Suite Meet ups
You’ll have to figure which are the most practical for your circumstances and how to use the platform. Sometimes it’s better to jump on the phone than send an email and other times you want that email thread in order to document the finer points of the conversation.
Using the phone alot then sound cancelling headphones may be needed.
Depending on the preference of your clients you may be forced to use a system you’re not comfortable with. My advice – get over it.
The majority work the same way and with a little reading or jumping on YouTube you’ll find your way.
All this technology also keeps you feeling connected and not cut off from the other operations in the office or with your customers.
Move it or lose it. It’s really true. Don’t stay put in the same office chair all day long.
I tend to lock down on a task during my work session and not look up for hours. What is that doing for my circulation? It’s also not too good for your digestion or back.
No co-workers to go chat with makes you forget to stand up or walk around but taking a break is the key to productivity.
I build mini-breaks into my schedule by doing laundry. This is the one personal task I allow during my work time. I sort, put on a load, hang up or tumble dry throughout the day. At the end a personal task is done and I’ve walked away from my office for a few minutes every hour or so.
When I’m in my office most of my work is done through my computer as I have double screens for all the information I look at. What do I do with my phone? Put it in another room, which makes me have to get up if I want to check messages or calls. Bonus this keeps me from being distracted with my girlfriends messages as they usually go on a rant and 65 messages later I realize nothing has been done.
Another good idea is keep your snacks out of the office. Make yourself get up and go to them. The only exception is water. I used to bring it to my office in a glass but found I wasn’t drinking it. For some reason putting it in a nice looking black matte Swell water bottle with a few cubes in it makes me want to chug it down!
When it’s a nice day I just go out on my deck, do a big stretch and take in the sunshine for a few minutes. It’s amazing what that does to improve the quality of what you produce.
Super important. These breaks aren’t the same as moving around your office space which I described above. These are real breaks.
Get up and go to another room and relax – remember this is why you need to have a designated area just for your office.
Let your mind drift off, clear itself and offer a fresh perspective to your days tasks.
Sometimes we get so “work distracted” that we forget to take breaks altogether. Go for that much needed walk and get out of the house.
Don’t just scroll through your social feed while at your desk – that is not a break.
FInd your people and stay connected. Go to the gym, dog park or community club during your break consistently to build those outside relationships with like-minded people.
Stay Work Social
Staying work social is different from taking a break. Sometimes it’s important to meet your clients or fellow co-workers in person outside in the real world.
This is also why we need to dress appropriately!
Physical interaction is vital for your mental health and sometimes a video call won’t cut it. You are your own boss and most likely have a flexible schedule where you can plan lunch dates or pop in to the corporate office.
No one feels good when they’re lonely and most feel worse if the weather turns crappy. We instinctively hunker down unless we’re out for some groceries. Make sure to get out in the public daily. You’ll be happier, increase your productivity and live a better life balance.
Watch out for Distractions
Although you need to get out and socialize, don’t allow family, friends and social media distractions to get the best of you.
One of the first things I noticed working from home was that no one thought I was actually working. Somehow I was to get work done but have tea with my mother-in-law, go shopping with my girlfriend and attend day-drinking lunches with my other pals.
They would always say don’t worry you can do your work after lunch. Really? Have you ever had a glass of wine or two during lunch and wanted (or had the capacity) to “go back to work”.
For the most part my work day is just that and I don’t indulge in conversations with family or friends during it unless it’s important. You want to see or talk to me, you’ll just have to wait until after 5.
Keep off your social media accounts. Do not automatically be logged in. Make them only available on your phone and then move that to another room.
Sometimes my friends get a little put off that I don’t text them back or check out their social media status updates right away but that is the cost of doing business. A few minutes here and there on social media adds up to a lot of time taken away from the work day.
I love pop but also my full on rock and depending on what I’m listening to determines the way I work.
For article writing I’ll listen to binaural beats which are supposed to help with concentration & focus and seem to for me. I would discourage listening if you’re prone to seizures or epileptic as I’ve been told they can be dangerous.
When I want to get the heart pumping and my energy up for a project I go for the classic rock, maybe some Rival Sons or some “classic” Beyonce Lemonade. Who doesn’t want to listen to a woman tell her cheating husband off?
Whatever you listen to its good for the brain and touches our emotions.
Create playlists for your projects or tasks to help you enjoy the time your working. Try some classic as well as new artists.
Take Care of your eyes
Super painful is the only way I can describe it.
Dry eyes, headaches sometimes even my back hurts. All from staring at the computer screen.
The best advice is to stop looking at your screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds.
You can also purchase special eyewear to block the blue light emitted from computer monitors & digital screens. When you look at your screen too long the blue light irritates your eyes and can disrupt your sleep. The glasses can help with eye strain and blurry vision.
These suggestions are just that ‘suggestions”. Everybody works differently and you need to find what works best for you.
Commit to goals, keep your productivity up, enjoy the freedom of flexibility and create a rewarding office space and continued gratifying daily experiences.