5 Helpful Things I’ve Learned Since Working from Home
posted on October 30, 2018 | by Heather Bien
As someone whose work is almost entirely online, it was only a matter of time before I became a remote worker. For years, you could have said I worked from home in the capacity that I run a side hustle – as a blogger and freelance writera – but it wasn’t until this past January that I began my work from home journey full-time. Over the past 11 months, I’ve gotten into a routine, nailed down the habits that work for me, and learned a bit about myself and how I work when there’s no one sitting at the desk next to me. If you also WFH, let me know if you’ve noticed the same things!
I work best with a schedule
You’ll hear this again and again from those of us that work from home, but you won’t realize how true it is until you’re actually home every single day. You may imagine that working from home will free you from the 9-5 schedule and allow you to stay in your pajamas all day but, in reality, people typically work a 9-5 schedule because it works.
I’m not saying I stick to those exact hours – often I prefer to start my day a little earlier so that I can allocate an hour midday for lunch. But, in order to feel like I’m working, I need to set a schedule, wake up at the same time every day, shower every morning, get dressed, and be at my computer ready to go by 9 AM at the latest.
And, on a similar note, yes, it’s super helpful to cut the commute from your day, but instead of sleeping in, I use that time to run errands, work on my side hustle, or just get a head start on clearing out emails before my in-office colleagues have logged on. Also, if I want to pick something up at the grocery store or squeeze in a workout at lunch, I schedule it. Because without a schedule, it’s too easy to start letting those life must-do’s seep into your workday.
Self-discipline is essential
Of course with all this scheduling, comes self-discipline. Working from home, I’ve learned to amp up the self discipline. While there are no longer the office distractions of a long lunch with coworkers or the morning chats around the Keurig, there are the distractions of laundry that needs to be folded or floors that need to be swept. Or, really, just anything that doesn’t involve sitting at a desk (speaking of, a desk is SO necessary – don’t work from the couch!).
Working from home will test the limits of your self-discipline. And, guess what? This is where you may find out it’s not for you. Can’t stop yourself from turning on Bravo every day? It might be time to get back in the office – and that’s totally fine.
A breath of fresh air refreshes productivity
We all know this, even if we work in an office, but it’s even more true when you work from home. Without a commute, I could easily get to 7 PM without ever leaving my apartment. There are days when that happens. Today was one of them! But, in an ideal world, I’ll take a break midday to walk around the neighborhood for 20 minutes or so taking in the sunshine and fresh air, listening to a podcast, and taking some time to recharge.
I return to my desk ready to start cranking again and I avoid the, “Where did the day go?!” feeling that happens when I look up, it’s dark outside, and I haven’t walked more than 10 feet from my desk at any point during the day.
And, if I’m feeling really in need of a productivity boost, I’ll not only get the fresh air, but I’ll walk to a coffee shop nearby to work the second half of the day.
I have to guard my off hours
When you work from home, it’s easy to let your work creep into all hours of the day and night. You may think it’s tough to ignore your email on your phone, but imagine if your work desk was transported into your living room. That’s the work from home life. It’s always there, begging to be opened.
So, you have to guard those off hours. I’ll schedule a workout class every evening at 6:45 PM or 7:15 PM so that I have to leave my work behind at that time. Yes, I’ll come home and work on my side hustle in the evening. But, I’ve created a time barrier that forces me to cut if off for a few hours while I work out, come home, make dinner, and just chill for a bit.
Communication and building relationships are key
In an office, there’s office gossip, there are office politics, there are those dynamics that you can avoid, for better or worse, when you work from home. That doesn’t mean you can live in a vacuum, however. If anything, building relationships is even more important when you work from home. You aren’t in front of your coworkers every single day, so you have to make an effort to get to know them, to let them know you appreciate their work, and to become a part of their professional social circle – particularly if they’re in the office without you.
In terms of professional relationships, working from home has actually made me a better communicator. While it’s easier to run over to someone’s desk with a question, I’ve learned to communicate more effectively and thoroughly while working from home. Whether I’m chatting all day via Slack or just firing back and forth questions on email, communicating everything I’m doing, thinking, and anticipating is a non-negotiable.
The bottom line here is that you need your coworkers to realize that even though you work from home, you’re available, you’re on it, and you’re ready to jump in on whatever project is headed your way.
To all the work from home and remote workers out there, what has working from home taught you about yourself? Do you have any tips to stay motivated and productive?
Oh Gosh! I struggle so much with working from home. I do remote research projects that have me in the office 2 days, and home for 3. I think its important to make adjustments to help productivity as soon as you notice a problem.
I moved my desk away from the window because I caught myself daydreaming for too long.
Set myself up with opportunities to leave the house and work a few hours in other locations (local library, coffee shop, coworking space…).
I am trying to make myself a weekly outline so that I know exactly when I will work and when I schedule free time, but it is difficult when you feel like you can trade hours here and there throughout the week to make a full timesheet!
Lauren Silva Says
I have been working from home steadily for a year now. I haven’t actually put into words what I’ve learned from the experience, so your article was a good read!!
YES to the schedule! I work 8:30-11 and then go to the gym from 12-1:30 and then come back to the desk astound 2:30 if there is still work to be done! I’ve noticed my phone and social media are my biggest distractions because half of my work is on my phone. Also, I’ve noticed I’m more of a hermit these days and don’t feel as comfortable talking to people when I’m out. So I’m working to combat this constantly.